October 3, 2006
From Fox News.com
John Legend Gets Lifetime 'Buddy'
Newish pop star John Legend has a new permanent lifetime buddy, a man with whom he will now be linked in perpetuity.
That's because on his forthcoming album, "Once Again," Legend re-recorded a hit song from the '60s with new lyrics, but the exact same music.
If you're over a certain age, you will certainly recall the hits "Stormy," "Spooky" and "Traces of Love" by Dennis Yost & the Classics IV.
Well, an Alabama songwriter named Buddy Buie wrote those songs with James B. Cobb Jr. Buie also co-authored the Atlanta Rhythm Section hit "So Into You."
But what Buddy wasn't into so much was John Legend (real name John Stephens) creating a new song from the memorable "Stormy" and renaming it "Save Room" for his album — unless he was paying Buie.
And now he is.
Buie and Cobb, in fact, are getting 50 percent of the publishing on "Save Room." Not just now, but forever.
"We wouldn't have accepted the deal otherwise," Buie told me last night from his Alabama home.
The other 50 percent will go to Legend and two collaborators — the Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am, aka Will Adams, and newcomer Jessyca Wilson, who allegedly helped Legend think up the new lyrics (and yes, they are far inferior to Buie and Cobb's refrain of "bring back that sunny day").
Now, don't get us wrong, Buddy Buie is very happy with John Legend.
"I'd like him to sample some of my songs!" he roared with laughter. "Bring 'em all back!"
Buie notes that he's been sampled before, but without permission.
"This time it was very easy," he said. "No lawyers were required."
Of course, it's the first time Buddy Buie has written a song "with" someone he's never met or spoken to.
"That is a little odd," he says.
Legend, despite appropriating "Stormy," hasn't bothered to call the veteran songwriter. But that's OK.
"I think he did a pretty good job with it," Buie says, "but I think the original is better."
By the way, Legend says in the press release accompanying "Once Again" that he'd never heard of "Stormy."
That might seem a little implausible, considering that Buie's hits have been mainstays of pop radio for 40 years. But, you know, maybe he was living under a rock.
"I didn't even know the original." Legend writes. "I just knew it was a nice organ sound and wanted to write it."
And yet, he didn't write it. Someone else did.
In the past, when that happened, songwriters said "Whoops!" and went on to new material.
But not in this generation, where, to paraphrase, "imitation is the sincerest form of income."
So what's going on here?
John Legend, I'd say, is getting bad advice. He's a gifted musician and songwriter, but too much of "Once Again" sounds like it's the same sort of prepackaged pop-soul that's on Justin Timberlake's new album.
CHECK OUT JOHN LEGEND'S