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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Love Is A Wonderful Thing

Okay, here we are.  The week of Valentine's Day.

With Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday this year, I imagine that most people will be making extra special plans to treat their guys or gals to a night on the town complete with dinner, dancing, and a whole lot of love making.

Myself?  I think it's pointless to devote one day of the year to treating your significant other like gold when you should be doing it all year round.  And I think it's sort of disrespectful to have a day of celebration named after a man who was locked in a tower, pelted with rocks, and beheaded.  But hey, that's just me, I guess.

The point is...I've been very much a dissenter of all things Valentine's Day.  I wanted the boxes of heart-shaped chocolates to be filled with hot pepper.  I wanted the dancing dogs and cats to sing inappropriate songs.  I wanted the heart shaped balloons to pop all at once.

(Well, just make sure the balloons are popped away from me.  I hate that sound.)

But at the same time, things are actually starting to get much better.  I'm starting to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm beginning to discover who I am now as a result of it.

So, I've decided that I would try to put a positive spin on Valentine's Day week by doing a few entries that tackle the subject of love.  I'm going to see how well that goes, and who knows?  Maybe by the time the fourteenth rolls around, I may change my opinion on the day.

Or, at the very least, not complain about it as much while I bite the wings off of chocolate Cupids.

I'm also bringing back the former theme days that I used to do for one week only, just to make this Valentine's Day week more pop culture themed, which would make today the Sunday Jukebox.

And admittedly, I've chosen a song that I'm quite surprised I like.

It's a cheesy love song that was released approximately twenty-four years ago, and the singer is one that was mocked a lot in the media.  In particular with his appearance. 

Now, take it from me.  I think making fun of someone based on physical looks is a cheap shot and disrespectful.  But, I have to admit that when I was a kid, I always wondered how this singer managed to have long hair and be balding at the same time.  It was always a bit of a puzzle to me.

But I don't think that Michael Bolton really cared about any of that.  From 1988 to 1997, he was definitely one of the biggest selling soft rock artists in the world, and I do remember quite a few of his songs being played on the radio.  Let's see...there was "Said I Loved You, But I Lied", "Time, Love & Tenderness", "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You", and "Can I Touch You...There?"

(Yes, that last one actually was a song title by Bolton.  Released in late 1995.)

But I decided that I would choose this song instead.  It's a song about love.  It's a song that admittedly has a cheesy music video that surprisingly works with the song itself.  And, it was also the subject of a copyright infringement controversy!

Okay, let's hear it!

ARTIST:  Michael Bolton
SONG:  Love Is a Wonderful Thing
ALBUM:  Time, Love & Tenderness
DATE RELEASED:  April 19, 1991

Yes, for those of us who are lucky enough to have found love, love, I've been told, is a wonderful thing.  But even for those of us who are single, love can be a wonderful thing that one day we hope to have happen.

And, of course, it's not all about romantic love either.  Love can also be displayed towards family members, friends, or even complete strangers too.  Love truly is a wonderful thing.

And it certainly proved to be a wonderful thing for Michael Bolton - well, at least from a musical perspective anyway.  The song peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1991, and it was a #1 adult contemporary hit on two separate occasions between May 1991 and June 1991.

As far as his real love life went, well...he and his wife Maureen McGuire ended up getting divorced, and he had an on-off relationship with "Desperate Housewives" actress Nicollette Sheridan which is currently off.  But hey, I'm sure that while he was in those relationships, he thought that love was a wonderful, wonderful thing.  He probably still thinks that today, even though there's no record of him being in a relationship that I can find.

You hear that ladies?  He's single!

But you know what wasn't a wonderful thing?  Charges of copyright infringement.

You see, a little over two and a half decades before "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" was first released by Michael Bolton, a group that called themselves "The Isley Brothers" released a song themselves which was also entitled "Love Is a Wonderful Thing".  Have a listen to their version below.

Now, this version by The Isley Brothers didn't nearly do as well on the charts as Michael Bolton's version.  The Isley Brothers version reached #10 on the Billboard "Bubbling Under" charts in 1966.  Now that might seem like it did well until you consider that when a song bubbles under, it means that it charts below the Billboard Hot 100.  So, essentially, that meant that this version peaked at #110.  Ouch.

But listen to both this version and Michael Bolton's version of this song.  They are both different songs with different arrangements.  The only similarity in either song lies within the chorus, as the line "love is a wonderful thing" seems to be sung exactly the same way.  But surely that couldn't be enough to launch a copyright infringement lawsuit against Bolton, could it?

Well, actually, could.

Shortly after Bolton's version was released, a lawsuit was launched against Bolton and his songwriting partner Andrew Goldmark charging both with copyright infringement, claiming that they had sampled enough of The Isley Brothers version of the song without asking for permission.  Bolton and Goldmark would argue that they did no such thing.  However, in 1994, a jury found both Bolton and Goldmark, and Sony Music Entertainment, liable of all charges, and they were ordered to pay the Isleys all profits earned by the single plus an additional 28% of the profits generated by Michael Bolton's "Time, Love & Tenderness" album, plus any other album the song appears on.

Ouch.  This could explain why it is almost impossible to find a Michael Bolton greatest hits album with "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" as one of the songs.

So, how much did The Isley Brothers end up receiving as a result of this decision?  A cool five million dollars!  Can you say Cha-Ching?

To his credit, Michael Bolton did attempt to make an appeal, stating that while he was a fan of The Isley Brothers and liked their music, he insisted that he was not guilty of copyright infringement as he had claimed to have not even heard the other version prior to releasing his own.  Alas, his appeal in January 2001 was not heard by the Supreme Court, and the original verdict issued in 1994 remained.

So, "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" turned out not to be such a wonderful thing for Bolton.  However, it became an extremely wonderful thing for The Isley Brothers.  Still, no matter what the decision was, it doesn't take away from the fact that Michael Bolton's version was still considered well-loved by his fans, and I am sure that this song gets played at a lot of weddings all over the world some twenty-four years later.

After all, both songs state the obvious.  Love is a wonderful thing.

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