Friday, December 10, 2004


The song writer's nightmare: you think you've written a song when all you've done is remember it. Plagiarism is usually inadvertent, but embarassing none the less.

I few weeks ago, Peggy Sullivan, the female lead in Smoke Creek, said she was working on a song about the Grim Reaper and challenged me to write a song on the same topic. In a couple of weeks, I came up with these lyrics and was working on a melody:

Door Number Three
copyright 2004 by Mike Murray

I dreamed a cosmic quiz show with loads of precious gear
On the stage behind the floodlights three doors, windows clear
The MC shouted "Choose one", I calmly took a look
Door One a pile of money, Door Two a stack of books


A choice of wealth or wisdom, well, I knew which way to go
I'd sung all the old songs about a fool and his dough
"Money can't buy happiness", Oh, that line's so true
I rushed up on the platform to Door Number Two


That's when I had this problem I didn't understand
The door wouldn't open, the knob twirled in my hand
At last I read the notice and it caused my heart to freeze
The sign said "Out of Order -- use Door Number Three".

CHORUS (twice)

I was feeling pretty good about these lyrics and the idea behind them, and I e-mailed a copy to my brother. He shot back,

“Looks good. You can use the melody from Jimmy Buffet's "Door Number Three".

Well, I wasn’t aware of Buffet’s hit song, of the same title, which was co-written by Buffet and Steve Goodman:



Oh I took a wrong turn, it was the right turn
My turn to have me a ball
Boys at the shop told me just where to stop
If I wanted to play for it all
I didn't know I'd find her on daytime TV
My whole world lies waiting behind door number three

I chose my apparel, wore a beer barrel
And they rolled me to the very first row
I held a big sign that said "Kiss me I'm a baker,
and Monty I sure need the dough!"
Then I grabbed that sucker by the throat
Until he called on me
Cause my whole world lies waiting behind door number three

And I don't want what Jay's got on his table
Or the box Carol Merrill points to on the floor
No, I'll hold out just as long as I am able
Until I can unlock that lucky door
Well, she's no big deal to most folks
But she's everything to me
Cause my whole world lies waiting behind door number three

Oh Monty, Monty, Monty, I am walking down your hall
God be, I lost my seat but I'm not a man to crawl
No I didn't get rich you son of a bitch
I'll be back just wait and see
Cause my whole world lies waiting behind door number three

Yes my whole world lies waiting behind door number three


So, his song’s got the same lyrical hook, essentially the same plot (the protagonist is looking for love instead of wisdom, Door Number Three is what he's choosing rather than Two, but it’s close enough for discomfort).

Now, is there anything I can do to save my lyrics? I could call it “Door Three Revisited”, I could rewrite it as “Door Number Four”, but, no matter what, it will appear that I stole Buffet & Goodman’s idea.

Seems my only chance is to make my song a commentary on theirs.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Band Names

I've played with several bands over the years. My bands are fundamentally amateur, although we do play for money. It's nice when your hobby at least breaks even.

Band Names have always been an issue. You want something descriptive, catchy and unique. My main band is called "Smoke Creek". We picked that name because my brother (who plays guitar and sings in it) and I were raised on a farm/ranch in Eastern Montana where a creek of that name ran through our pasture.

We play what we call "Traditional Acoustic" music. It's somewhere in the space between old-time, folk, bluegrass, country-western and singer-songwriter. In other words, we do what we like, but our stuff is relatively simple.

We've been performing as "Smoke Creek" since 1992.

Over the years, a couple of other bands popped up using the same name as ours. One, located in North Carolina, seems to be defunct since the mid 1990s. Another, in Montana, seems to play out around Billings. I find this irritating, since a casual web search would have revealed to these folks that our band, in the same region of the country, was already using the name. But, there's not much one can do about it this sort of name poaching. Trying to trademark a name is too expensive to even consider.

You'd think they'd try for a unique name for their band, so if someone does a web search, it wouldn't come up with beau coupe references to us, but...

We've produced a CD, which we sell at Gigs and through CD Baby. It got good reviews, but there are a lot of CDs with good reviews out there. If any of the johnny-come-lately bands try to market a CD using our name, I guess we'll have to try to do something about it.

Why This Blog ?

I'm going to discuss my musical prejudices here, and talk about songs I have written. At least, that's my current plan. Mostly, I just want to get the Blog established.