13
Nov
09

Switchfoot does Black Sabbath

Okay so I just had to post this cause it is bugging me. The new song “Free” on Switchfoot’s latest album “Hello Hurricane” (released just a few days ago) has exactly the same melody line in the verse as “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. This is not a stretch to hear. I personally have no, and have never had, any interest in Black Sabbath (not the least of reasons is that the motivation for the band’s music was based in attempting to create the musical equivalent of horror films). But that’s not the point. The point is, “War Pigs” is a very popular song, and Jon Foreman lifted the melody line from it. It may be an error, but that’s not really the point either. As a songwriter myself I experienced a time where we were literally one day away from sending a CD off to be manufactured and we discovered that the melody in our chorus was exactly the same as another popular worship tune. This was an honest mistake and I recall the day I wrote that melody line and know it was original…for me. There are only so many notes, and I have heard so much music in my life, somehow that melody line made it into the tune and we didn’t catch it. But fact is, we did catch it before the CD was made so we did a quick re-write, re-recorded the vocals same day, remastered the CD and sent it off. I just have to wonder how this got missed in the grand scheme of releasing Switchfoot’s latest album. Those guys most certainly have heard the song “War Pigs” being students of the rock genre. And if they didn’t catch it, wouldn’t the producer(s) know? Or how about an agent, or a friend, or their mom, or someone, somewhere at Atlantic records? Recently there was some brouhaha and a lawsuit brought (and recently settled) to mega-band Coldplay by guitarist extraordinaire Joe Satriani who said the band had lifted one of his songs. Fact is, “lack of originality” happens all the time in music. But in the case of “Free” I really wonder who was listening to this song (besides the band) and if someone heard the similarity, why didn’t they say anything? Final possibility: sometimes artists pay homage to other artists and influences in their songs intentionally, and I think that’s cool. I’ve done it myself. Now if *that* is the case it leaves me asking Jon Foreman: why Black Sabbath?

“War Pigs” at 1:04 and “Free” at 0:32 for reference.

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5 Responses to “Switchfoot does Black Sabbath”


  1. 1 metrobobby
    November 14, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Dude, I can totally hear it! Crazy.

  2. 2 Julian
    November 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Capital LAME. Somehow I feel ripped off…

  3. November 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Hm. I’m not hearing it. I’m not familiar with either songs, so I searched on iTunes. “Free” seems to be in 4/4, and “War Pigs” seems to be in 6/8. The chorus of “Free” seems kind of nondescript, to my ear. Maybe I didn’t get around to hearing the chorus of “War Pigs.”

    On a different note, is it me, or does Black Sabbath sound like Jack Black in “School of Rock”?

  4. November 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Hey Ted you gotta listen at the times indicated above. By the way, I guess this made a bit of a stir and there are now a lot of posts on this subject out in internetland.

    BTW, 6/8 is where it starts and it switches…

    Jack Black lol

    The new Switchfoot album is really good. I am liking it!

  5. 5 jdcaliff man
    October 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I think JF did it on purpose and I think it’s awesome


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