Last night, episode seven of Yellowstoneseason five premiered.
Towards the end of the episode, John, Rip, Beth, Carter and the rest of the ranch crew made went to the local county fair, and fans of the show were treated to surprise appearance from Zach Bryan and his band, who were booked to perform.
Throughout the country fair scene, Zach and company performed a number of songs off his Summertime Blues EP, including “Quittin’ Time,” “Summer Time Blues,” “Motorcycle Drive By.”
Taylor Sheridan has appeared to make it a priority to feature live appearances more often from big time artists this season, as we’ve seen Shane Smith & the Saints, Isaac Hoskins, Lainey Wilson, Ryan Bingham, and now Bryan play in the first seven episodes.
But speaking of Bryan’s performance of “Motorcycle Drive By,” one artist is claiming that the main riff to the song is nearly exactly like his own, and it’s no other than Texas country artist, Rich O’Toole.
He made the claim in a Twitter post, saying the opening line is identical to his 2014 song “Take My Heart:”
“I’m a giant fan of Yellowstone but tonight I heard one of my songs on the program by Zach Bryan. The lead line is identical to mine so I would love some answers. Love Zach but thank you.”
Bryan proceeded to respond with multiple tweets, saying that it’s the kind of thing that is relatively common in music:
“Wait until you hear the similarities in ‘Let You Down’ and ‘Should’ve Said No’ by T Swift or ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘Cover Me Up’ had no idea you and Bach invented bar chords and melodies ol’ son.”
Wait until you hear the similarities in Let You Down and Should’ve Said No by T Swift or Norwegian Wood and Cover Me Up had no idea you and Bach invented bar chords and melodys ol son https://t.co/wk4ZcBV4Zg
And once the backlash from Zach’s loyal and rabid fanbase came to his defense, O’Toole also made an effort to clear the air, responding back:
“Yo Zach Bryan. No need to have your fans just destroy me on the internet lol. This is getting really ugly. I sent you a DM with my number. Give me a ring. Just curious about the song.
As songwriters we look out for each other so I was just curious about the melody line.”
Yo @zachlanebryan. No need to have your fans just destroy me on the internet lol. This is getting really ugly. I sent you a DM with my number. Give me a ring. Just curious about the song. As songwriters we look out for each other so I was just curious about the melody line.
Needless to say, it’s fairly common to have similarities in music, just by the sheer volume of music that is created every day. I mean, quick music theory lesson here, but there’s only 12 notes (A through G and a handful of sharps/flats), and in any key, you’re generally only using a handful of them that “fit.”
We’ve all seen the well-known Axis Of Awesome video that explains how the same 4-chord progression covers a whole mess of iconic pop and rock songs.
And granted, that’s just a chord progression (one that some of those famous songs don’t even use), but you get the point?
John Mayer does a great job explaining his thought process on the song “Heartbreak Warfare,” which sounds an awful lot like U2’s bad.
The point is, that there are countless examples of similar melodies, and sometimes even very similar melodies and riffs in music, whether it was done intentionally or not.
Did Zach hear this obscure Rich O’Toole song from 2014 and decide to rip the guitar riff for his song? Of course not…
Can you understand Rich’s frustration hearing similar guitar riff from one of the biggest stars in music, on the biggest show on television? Sure… I suppose.
Is it a conversation that’s best had offline? Definitely.