BEHIND THE SONGS – BLOG 13

BITTER SWEET SYMPHONY – THE VERVE

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” is one of the definitive British singles of the 1990’s. A moody, existential anthem driven by a distinctive string motif. These four seconds of strings were sampled from an orchestral recording of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time”, but the rights were not fully cleared before the song was released.

Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein argued that the Verve had used a larger portion of the sample than agreed and following a lawsuit forced song writer Richard Ashcroft to relinguish the song’s royalties and create a new songwriting credit : Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft. Following the decision Ashcroft remarked sarcastically “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”.

However, Jagger and Richards have finally ended one of the most acrimonious copyright disputes in the history of British pop music by granting Ashcroft all future royalties from his 1997 hit song. In a statement Ashcroft said: “This remarkable and life – affirming turn of events was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith”. It would appear the feud is finally over.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” reached # 2 in the UK and # 12 in the USA, where it was also nominated for a Grammy for best rock song.

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