Last week, after the tragic, alcohol-fueled passing of Jackass hero Ryan Dunn, Rocks Off at Taco Cabana wearing a promotional shirt for The Hangover II that we
stole borrowed from the office here at the Press. As we were loading our hands with condiment containers, a guy came up to us and said "It's a shame that boy died."
In an instant, we realized this guy had mistaken Hangover star Zach Galifinakis for Dunn. The beards, the roundness, the twinkling eyes, the same comical manner? It all makes sense, and we weren't about to get into a debate at a TC off 290 about who is, who was, or who is not Ryan Dunn.
And besides, our Cabana Bowl was ready. Of course we got the mixed fajita one with plenty of sour cream.
Anyhow, this got us to thinking about other, less sad, forms of mistaken identity. It happens a lot in music, when someone credits a song to another with a similar musical style. There are people walking around who think that the Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles, and The Who all recorded one big catalog that is easily (read: stupidly) attributed to each other.
It makes the blood of music nerds boil under their skin. We grew up with a guy who thought The Clash was the Sex Pistols, and we almost pulled out our liberty spikes in 1999 when he said that out loud. Still love you, Robert.
It gets worse when you think about boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, who sounded quite the same in their day. You just know that someone paid a few hundred bucks to see "Justin Timberlake" last weekend at the Toyota Center.
In the days when Napster ruled the Internet and you could still find gigabytes of tunes every hour, we remember seeing file names that were hilariously wrong. According to file sharers, Bob Marley recorded every single even vaguely reggae song, Metallica was the only metal band ever (well...), and Alanis Morrisette was responsible for every angry female rock song from 1994 until 1999. Let's not forget the vast amounts of music recorded by Hank Williams Sr., who in fact wrote every racist country song known to man, along with most every other Johnny Cash ballad.
America, "A Horse With No Name" Mistaken For: Neil Young
Neil Young is the commonly attributed artist on most people's lists. We get it, it makes sense.
Mott The Hoople, "All The Young Dudes" Mistaken For: David Bowie
Yes, "Dudes" was written by Bowie and recorded by the Motts in 1972, but its author didn't record it himself until the sessions for Aladdin Sane in 1973.
Stealers Wheel, "Stuck In The Middle With You" Mistaken For: Various rootsy, shaggy rockers
Bob Dylan and Tom Petty get the blame for this song, made popular again in the '90s by the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack and a bloody ear.
The Hollies, "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)" Mistaken For: Creedence Clearwater Revival
CCR is not the artist, though with the menacing guitar opening and witchy lyrics it can fool novices. Alas, it was the Hollies, not Fogerty and folk.
Thin Lizzy, "The Boys Are Back In Town" Mistaken For: Bachman Turner Overdrive
We've never understood people mixing this one up for a Bachman-Turner Overdrive composition, but then again we can see the resemblance between Thin Lizzy's ragged glory, and say BTO's "Takin' Care of Business."
The Romantics, "What I Like About You" Mistaken For: Ramones
The Ramones could write a helluva pop song, but this confection is not their baby. On a related note, we used to think that this was a Cheap Trick song.
Meredith Brooks, "Bitch" Mistaken For: Alanis Morissette
Not going to lie, in 8th grade, we called 102.9 The Planet and requested that new Alanis Morisette song, and the guy on the other end laughed at us until we hung up. Or maybe it was because our changing voice squeaked really bad.
Rockwell, "Somebody's Watching Me" Mistaken For: Michael Jackson
Yes, MJ does sing the chorus on this - as a favor to Motown Records founder, then-president and still Rockwell's father, Berry Gordy Jr. - but it's not his song. The senior Gordy also sired Redfoo of electro-rappers LMFAO.
Billy Swan, "I Can Help" Mistaken For: Roy Orbison
Swan's Roy Orbison-biting song is a little-known pop gem we discovered amongst a few 45s back in the '90s.
The Gourds, "Gin & Juice" Mistaken For: Phish
Phish does perform very interesting covers in concert, but they never did this one.
Terry Stafford, "Suspicion" Mistaken For: Elvis Presley
Beyond people getting "Suspicion" mixed up with "Suspicious Minds" because of their similar titles, Elvis Presley usually gets the credit for both, and he deserves it... sort of. The real story is even more interesting.
Legendary songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote the song, which Elvis recorded for his 1962 Pot Luck With Elvis album. However, "Suspicion" was passed over as a single in favor of "She's Not You" (No. 5), "(Such an) Easy Question" and "I'm Yours" (both No. 11)" and "Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello" (No. 55). Stafford, meanwhile, heard Elvis' version and recorded his own, then watched it rise to No. 3 in 1964 as his first and only real hit as a performer.
As Stafford's "Suspicion" was climbing the charts, RCA realized its mistake and belatedly released Elvis' version as a single, but it failed to even scrape the Hot 100. Wondering what else Terry Stafford did? Later in life, he wrote and recorded an ode to his adopted Panhandle hometown. As a B-side, Stafford's own version of "Amarillo by Morning" never charted... but George Strait's sure as hell did.
Badfinger, "Come And Get It" Mistaken For: The Beatles
The Beatles' didn't record this song, but Paul McCartney did write it and recorded it solo during the Abbey Road sessions. He gave it to Badfinger, who were touted as a Beatles Jr. in the late '60s and early '70s. You can hear Macca's version on Anthology 3 and numerous bootlegs.
Animotion, "Obsession" Mistaken For: Various '80s New Wave bands
The Human League didn't record this song, and Depeche Mode and New Order are not the same band. Every New Wave band gets a bad rap for sounding alike, when true believers can tell the difference between ABC and A Flock Of Seagulls.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Modern English, "I Melt With You" Mistaken For: The Cure
Blame the jangling guitars and the mopey vocals for lame-brains thinking this was written by The Cure. When the song was featured on a Burger King commercial years ago it was actually credited as "The Burger King Song" on a few sites.