Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"You Showed Me": Byrds> Turtles> De La Soul> Salt-n-Pepa> U2



Or, 'How A Rare Song Changed The Music Industry'.


"You showed me how to say exactly what you say/ in that very special way." THE BYRDS said the say and everyone's been resaying it ever since!

The song was written by Jim "Roger" McGuinn and Gene Clarke in the folk days before the band. Recorded a few times, it became a loose song kind of lost in the margins. Here's the original with its upbeat early Beatles influence.

THE BYRDS -"You Showed Me" (rec. 1964; rel. 1969)



THE TURTLES first heard it when their producer played it for them on a broken harmonium which forced him to slow down his pace. They loved the eerie waltz quality of that and recorded this radically different and pivotal version with sleepy keys and bleary strings.

THE TURTLES -"You Showed Me" (1969)



As an interlude in their debut concept album, DE LA SOUL sampled those memorable strings and accidentally changed the record industry.

Sampling had progressed from short riffs to entire passages from songs by the late 80's, and artists who weren't getting credited or paid for their originals were getting furious. When The Turtles took De La Soul to court over the lack of permission to use their recording, it set the legal precedent for royalty payment and crediting of all artists going forward.

DE LA SOUL -"Transmitting Live From Mars (Interlude)" (1989)



People drew battle lines at the time -artist vs. theft, rock vs. hiphop- but culture ultimately doesn't care. While one side (Thesis) does something different than another side (Antithesis), everyone else tends to just combine the best elements of either (Synthesis). Ta da, culture! Going forward the influence of both The Turtles and De La Soul would mutate the song on along.

So, spurred by the De La song, SALT-n-PEPA extended it further into the HipHop world.

SALT-n-PEPA -"You Showed Me" (1990)



When THE LIGHTNING SEEDS covered it, it retained The Turtles' elegant wooze along with the club beats of the HipHop versions. (As an aside, the band got their name by mis-hearing the Prince lyric, "Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees." Rather appropriate, in this relay context.)

THE LIGHTNING SEEDS -"You Showed Me" (1997)



U2 did essentially what De La had done but now through legal channels. They sample those ever-influential strings in this pointed barb at the shallowness of popular culture.

U2 -"The Playboy Mansion" (1997)



Continuing this game of 'Telephone', here's LUTRICIA McNEAL retaining The Turtles tempo and strings with the pumping HipHop beats.

LUTRICIA McNEAL -"You Showed Me" (2002)






I say 'Telephone' because I have to wonder sometimes how many of the folks in the relay even remember the original Byrds version, or maybe even The Turtles. But that's a lot of how the spreading of ideas works. You put your work out there and then its up to every person's reaction.

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