Did you know the Alphabet song has the same tune as Baa Baa Black Sheep, which also has the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

The poem Twinkle Twinkle was first published in 1806 in a collection of poems by Jane Taylor and her sister Ann and is sung to the tune of the French melody “Ah! Vous diraj-je, Maman.”, which was composed and published in 1761 by Mozart.

Has the question ever been raised as to who should take ownership for probably the most famous nursery rhyme in the world? And springing from that question, who then takes ownership for the 2 other songs inspired by the melody.  Taylor or Mozart? And do you think the family of the ‘real’ owner of the song should be paid revenue every single time Twinkle Twinkle is sung or recorded?

Most of you probably answered no. You don’t care, it’s a nursery rhyme, and I’m pretty sure the Taylor and Mozart family have moved on and made peace with the fact that every single child in the world is singing their great-great grandmothers poem and great-great-great grandfathers lullaby without them receiving compensation every time those 6 simple lines of music are played.

 

However recently a similar story that involves a 70-year-old song and its writer has caused a great deal of controversy around the world. Everybody knows the song In the Jungle, and recently, most of the music world has become aware that this song was supposedly ‘stolen’ from South African artist Solomon Linda who after the song was recorded and re-recorded received absolutely no compensation for his work and died in poverty. Until musician/writer Rian Malan wrote his article, ‘In the Jungle’ and proved to the world that Linda deserved compensation and recognition for his of world-renowned song, which he has now gotten, in the form of a small sum of money sent to his family…after millions of dollars spent in law suits. Quite a loss really…

 

But the blame game has been going on for too long, and too much opinion and personal investment has already gone into the matter for me to comment on it. But what boggles my mind, and stumps me every time is why has this song been one of the world’s favourites for 70 years… it’s not that great.

 

Now before I’m stoned for denouncing one of the worlds most loved songs, let me explain. The song is catchy and enjoyable and once you’ve heard it, it will sit in your mind for 5 days until it almost drives you insane.  But the millions of dollars this song has earned in revenue and the lawsuits that came with the profits- One has to ask oneself is it worth it??

 

There are exactly 5 lines to the commercialised version of the song: In the Jungle, The mighty Jungle, The lion sleeps tonight. Aweeeeeeeee weeeeeiieeeee awimbowe. That’s it. The song has no beginning and no end, the musician simply decides when to end the song, so why for 70 years has this song been one of the most famous songs of all time and the cause for such controversy.

 

The song is about a lion, sleeping in the jungle. That’s it, and may it please be noted that South Africa does not have a jungle…. We have the bush, the veld. But yet this factually incorrect song has sold more records and had more artist do covers of it than Beatles songs- even the French did a cover of it!

Then after appearing in Walt Disney’s most beloved movie, The Lion King, the song once again became a global sensation- all because a Meer cat and a warthog sang it for 30 seconds in a 1.5 hour movie.

 

Minus the screeches in the background that could represent someone being tortured, In the Jungle could be no different to an old school nursery rhyme.  Yet the world celebrates the it and gives way to much attention to a song that was originally labelled as ‘trash’ before being sent to Seeger.

 

But the song still plays and plays and gets stuck in your head until you want to scream in pain just to get it out.  The more the song is played and ‘revised’ the worse it gets.  Linda’s version of the song is actually bearable, and almost enjoyable but recently a new version of a Hippo and a dog singing the song was released.  It’s even worse than listening to Seeger sing it as the hippo and dog (?) screech and whine about a mighty lion that is sleeping. Then they add a new verse about the lion sleeping in the village, which is even more absurd than the first verse. This has attracted over 3 million hits on youtube… makes you question where society is heading…

 

Opinions aside this short and sweet melody somehow made it to the top of the charts numerous times, and Solomon Linda didn’t earn a darn dime. Now this is sad, and its fantastic that justice prevailed all that common jazz but I must ask- if Solomon Linda realised everybody in the world had fallen in love with his song would he demand money or would he rejoice that his music was out there putting smiles on everyone’s faces as we all celebrate the sleeping lion.

And did the lawsuit really bring about a world of good for the Linda family, who lost their father and sister and then spent years fighting a case that they barely won? But according to the lawyers and many musical suitors all is now well that Solomon Linda’s body could finally rest in peace under a real tombstone that the family could now afford thanks to all this hype.

 

How much longer can this song be played for? After 70 years of listening to the same song isn’t the world getting bored of it?  In my opinion the song really should be put to rest next to the lion in the non-existent jungle in South Africa…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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