patent
 
Skip Navigation LinksCopyright Website > Audio > George Harrison login

Free Account
 
Sponsors
 
Source Material

Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 420 F.Supp. 177 (1976)

George Harrison,
"My Sweet Lord" from the album
"All Things Must Pass"
Amazon

The Chiffons,
"He's So Fine", from the album
"One Fine Day"
Amazon

 
 

The Fine Lord

George Harrison was sued for his song My Sweet Lord for allegedly infringing the copyright on the song He's So Fine composed by Ronald Mack and performed by The Chiffons. The copyright was assigned to Bright Tunes Music Corp. He's So Fine was a top hit in 1963, along with Louie, Louie, The Wanderer and Surf City.

Harrison's song My Sweet Lord was released in 1970 on the album All Things Must Pass and subsequently re-released on Best of George Harrison . Harrison claimed that he did not knowingly appropriate the melody of the the Chiffon's song.

Did Harrison infringe on the Chiffon's hit? You be the judge.

Subconscious
Appropriation

The court in Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 420 F.Supp. 177 (1976), concluded that George Harrison had indeed infringed upon the copyright of He's So Fine . The decision was unique in that the court acknowledged that Harrison may have unconsciously copied the tune. The court stated:

"His subconscious knew it already had worked in a song his conscious did not remember... That is, under the law, infringement of copyright, and is no less so even though subconsciously accomplished."

Smoking Motifs

Motif A
Motif A

Motif B
Motif B

Motif C
Motif C

 

In making its determination, the court looked at the structure of the two songs in question. He's So Fine consists of four repetitions of a short musical phrase - Motif A, followed by four repetitions of Motif B. The second use of the Motif B series includes a unique grace note, illustrated in Motif C.

My Sweet Lord has a very similar structure in that it consists of four repetitions of Motif A , followed by three repetitions of Motif B. Particularly telling, however, is that the fourth repetition of Motif B includes the grace note illustrated in Motif C. It is possible that this grace note is what pushed the court over the edge in determining infringement.

In the course of its opinion, the court seems to imply that the infringement was really Billy Preston's fault. Apparently, George and Billy were jamming in Copenhagen when they started to riff off of Motif A. However, when they were recording the song back in London, Billy was the the principal musician while George was engineering the sessions. In the process of polishing the riffs into a song at this session, the Motif B and Motif C combinations came to be added to the original Motif A.

Lyrics

"My Sweet Lord" -
by George Harrison

My sweet lord
Hm, my lord
Hm, my lord

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you lord
But it takes so long, my lord

My sweet lord
Hm, my lord
Hm, my lord

I really want to know you
Really want to go with you
Really want to show you lord
That it won't take long, my lord (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)
Hm, my lord (hallelujah)
My sweet lord (hallelujah)

I really want to see you
Really want to see you
Really want to see you, lord
Really want to see you, lord
But it takes so long, my lord (hallelujah)

My sweet lord (hallelujah)
Hm, my lord (hallelujah)
My, my, my lord (hallelujah)

I really want to know you (hallelujah)
Really want to go with you (hallelujah)
Really want to show you lord (aaah)
That it won't take long, my lord (hallelujah)

Hmm (hallelujah)
My sweet lord (hallelujah)
My, my, lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hare krishna)
My, my, my lord (hare krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet lord (krishna, krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (hare hare)

Now, I really want to see you (hare rama)
Really want to be with you (hare rama)
Really want to see you lord (aaah)
But it takes so long, my lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my lord (hallelujah)
My, my, my lord (hare krishna)
My sweet lord (hare krishna)
My sweet lord (krishna krishna)
My lord (hare hare)
Hm, hm (Gurur Brahma)
Hm, hm (Gurur Vishnu)
Hm, hm (Gurur Devo)
Hm, hm (Maheshwara)
My sweet lord (Gurur Sakshaat)
My sweet lord (Parabrahma)
My, my, my lord (Tasmayi Shree)
My, my, my, my lord (Guruve Namah)
My sweet lord (Hare Rama)

[fade:]

(hare krishna)
My sweet lord (hare krishna)
My sweet lord (krishna krishna)
My lord (hare hare)

"He's So Fine" -
by The Chiffons

He's so fine
Wish he were mine
That handsome boy over there
The one with the wavy hair

I don't know how I'm gonna do it
But I'm gonna make him mine
Be the envy of all the girls
It's just a matter of time

He's a soft-spoken guy Also seems kind of shy Makes me wonder if I Should even give him a try

But then again he can't shy
He can't shy away forever
And I'm Gonna make him mine
If it takes me forever

He's so fine
Gotta be mine
Sooner or later
I hope it's not later We've got to get together
The sooner the better

I just can't wait
I just can't wait
To be held in his arms If I were a Queen
And he asked me to leave my throne
I'd do anything that he asked
Anything to make him my own

For he's so fine
So fine
So fine