The Ripoff Jukebox

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mayer vs. Winwood (vs. Petty)

John Mayer, "Say"
Steve Winwood, "Back in the High Life Again"
Tom Petty, "Free Fallin'"

I think I should preface this post by saying, I like musical ripoffs. I like when you can follow the melody, rhythm, spirit of a song from one artist's rendering to the next. I believe imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. Of course, if you imitate only yourself (yes, I'm talking about you, Third Eye Blind) that's another story.

Today's ripoff comes to us from "Say," John Mayer's contribution to The Bucket List soundtrack. It sounds remarkably like Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life Again." As was the case with the Matchbox 20 ripoff, there's a symmetry between the messages of each song. The Modern English song whispered hopefully, "I've seen the future, and it's getting better all the time," while Rob Thomas bemoaned, "I believe the world is coming to an end." In this pair, Steve Winwood is the voice of hope promising that "all the doors I closed one time will open up again." John Mayer counters with the warning to "say what you need to say," while there is still time to say it.

I like both messages. I like the idea of reclaiming a broken past and enjoying life to the fullest. But I also appreciate the warning not to take any days for granted. It's good to be hopeful for tomorrow. And it's good to express your feelings as if tomorrow might not happen.

And now I just can't get around adding this one.


  1. I had justed typed "john mayer say back in the high life" into my google bar to see if anybody else had this thought, and found your site. I've noticed this a lot with John Mayer and U2 specifically.
    "Bigger Than My Body" vs. "The Fly"
    "Waiting on the World to Change" vs. "Stuck In A Moment"

  2. thank goodness someone else noticed! ugh! first time i heard mayer's song i rolled my eyes b/c it's totally back in the highlife. also, what about the new maroon 5 "wont go home without you" and sting's "every breath you take"...what a rip. and of course kid rock's new tune vs. "werewolves of london". really fellas!


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