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At last, I saw my long-time favorite rock band the Pixies in Berkeley this weekend. That doesn’t have much to do with Creative Commons — not yet anyway. Except that this band is the reason for my first picking up a guitar 13 years ago (and, I might argue, for my improving little since). Which means that they’re also the reason for my wondering, for the first time, “Who owns a song?” and “How do songwriting credits work?” I clearly remember wondering, “Why does Black Francis get all the songwriting credits if the band plays together, and when Kim Deal sings so well?” O, those naive early days, when the information-law obsession was only in its infancy . . .

So the concert brought things home for me in a couple of ways at the close of a great week. (Neeru came to the show, too, so it was a kind of Creative Commons milestone celebration.) And despite the intensely nerdy back-story, I was able to enjoy some of my favorite music without thinking about copyright.

Not *too* much anyway: On the subject of covers, the Pixies did two: (1) “Winterlong,” by Neil Young, which Black Francis once said was the best thing the Pixies ever recorded, and (2) a crazy re-arrangement of an already crazy song, “In Heaven,” written by David Lynch and Peter Ivers for the movie Eraserhead.

The songs a band covers says a lot about them, and David Lynch plus Neil Young captures the Pixies awfully well.


Posted 29 September 2004