Prince appeared last week on George Lopez and created a stir when he stated that other artists should not be able to record his songs.
After saying he didn’t mind when his songs were covered live, he told Lopez “My problem is when the industry covers the music. There’s this thing called compulsory licensing law that allows artists through the record companies to take your music at will without your permission. And that doesn’t exist in any other art form, be it books, movies — There’s only one version of Law & Order. There’s several versions of Kiss and Purple Rain.”
He also said “See, covering music means that your version doesn’t exist anymore. A lot of times people think that I’m doing Sinead O’Connor’s song and Chaka Khan’s song when in fact I wrote those songs.”
Here’s the problem. While the laws may not be as stringent as needed, his statements just don’t ring true. Nobody forgot the Beatles did Got to Get You Into My Life just because Earth Wind and Fire covered it and, really, when you think of the song Kiss, do you think of Tom Jones or the original by Prince?
From the other angle, did Prince get permission from Tommy James & the Shondells to record Crimson in Clover (on the album Lotusflow3r) or the Stylistics for Betcha By Golly Wow (Emancipation) or Joan Osbourne for One of Us (Emancipation)?
There appears to be a bit of hypocrisy in Prince’s latest war with the rest of the world.