#21 – The Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony” – (1997)

This song is glorious – it’s just a shame that it turned into a lesson about the dark side of the music industry. It reminds me of a Hunter S. Thompson quote: “The music industry is a cruel and shallow money-trench. A long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.” So The Rolling Stones wrote a song called “The Last Time” in 1965. The Andrew Oldham Orchestra did an instrumental version of that song. The Verve “stole” that orchestral version and used it as the background strings in this song. The Rolling Stones (or whoever owns their catalog) sued The Verve and somehow arranged a 50/50 split of the royalties. Then, the song became a giant hit and they called back and said they were taking 100% of the royalties or they were going to pull the record from stores. So the band pretty much lost the rights to their own song and every cent they made from it went to people already super-rich, like Mick Jagger. Then the song was shopped out to commercials against the will of the band. Then, to top it off, Andrew Loog Oldham sued the band as well.

All of this is a shame, of course, because it is an absolutely beautiful song. The album is called Urban Hymns and I find it appropriate because this song is quite hymn-like. It also appears at the end of the movie Cruel Intentions, which was one of the biggest “young people” movies at the end of the decade. And no, this is not the same band that sang “The Freshmen.”