Sunday, December 14, 2008
As someone who owns the complete back catalogue of both Joe Satriani and Coldplay, I was aghast at reports that the guitarist is suing the band. Satch's claim: "Viva La Vida" uses "substantial" portions of his song, "If I Could Fly." This is the second instance of someone claiming that the song is a ripoff of another tune. An obscure band called Creaky Boards created a similar fuss and even accused Chris Martin of attending of their shows. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Toumani Diabate asserted he'd written "Viva La Vida" first.
But, I gotta admit that the bald guitarist -- renowned for having fingers a stenographer would envy -- seems to have a viable case. This side-by-side comparison, followed by a mashup of the two pieces, reveals an uncanny similarity.
But Coldplay may have a viable alibi. Can you imagine the Brit soft rockers ever listening to a Joe Satriani record? Guitarist Jonny Buckland, who I interviewed years back, seems more likely to have been influenced by The Edge. Moreover, when Coldplay knicked a riff from Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" for its "Talk," they made sure to get permission from the Germany's Max Headroom gang first. Coldplay seem like honest types. I've also interviewed Satriani and he's a standup guy not prone to pulling publicity stunts and, hell, if Satriani called this musicologist to the witness stand it might be akin to the gotcha moment in a Perry Mason episode.