“Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” appears to take several lines from a poem and song by Hob Ben, Slim Wilson, a self-proclaimed con man and pimp who did time for murder and armed robbery.
In 1964, while in a Missouri state penitentiary, Wilson met folklorist Bruce Jackson, who documented his poetry and toasts—a comic form of black folk poetry similar to the hobo ballad—in his 1974 for a book on the latter art form, Get Your Ass in. The Water and Swim Like Me, followed two years later with an album of the same name, featuring Slim performing his own compositions.
In a toast, a hobo named Hobo Ben asks the hosts of the party:
Ladies of such refined culture and beauty, is there any among you who would give me wine?
I know I’m shabby, but I don’t smell
And God bless the lady who buys me a drink.
Heavy-haired Hattie turned to Nadine with a laugh
And said, “That’s what that funny mommy really needs, kid, is a bath.”
Several of the song’s lines sound like Depp and Beck’s Sad Mother Parade, including the title: “I’m devastated, I know, but I ain’t got no smell,” “God bless the lady who’ll buy me a drink,” and “That’s what this funny mommy really needs, boy.” , it’s a bath.”
“The only two lines I could find in the whole piece [Depp and Beck] “Big time faker” and “But it down it my level” contributed, Jackson, a professor at the University of Buffalo, told Rolling Stone.
“Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book. I have never come across anything like this. I’ve been posting stuff for 50 years and this is the first time someone has ripped something off and put their name on it.
The album’s liner notes credit Beck and Depp as sole songwriters. The Guardian has contacted the duo’s representatives for comment.
However, it may be impossible to trace the original authorship, as well as copyright ownership, of Hobo Ben, a work transmitted through a competing oral tradition.
Jackson’s son, Michael Lee Jackson, said they are exploring possible legal options. “They do not represent the true authorship of those lyrics,” he said. “I think it’s just unbelievable Johnny Depp or someone else could have sat down and created those lyrics without taking them almost entirely from some version of my father’s record and/or book in which they appeared.
As the author of Get Your Ass in the Water, Jackson owns the copyright to the transcriptions of the toasts, making him an author under US law, attorney Kevin J Greene told Rolling Stone, adding that it may be more of an ethical issue. not subject to US copyright law – nor legal.
About the album, 18 told Rolling Stone, “I don’t know if this record sells. I’ve seen some reviews that I’d be embarrassed to get if they were my album. But if it sells, Johnny Depp makes a lot of money. Should it go to him or to some place that helps the people who created this culture?