News > Queen's ‘Break Free’ used on CBS's Sunday Morning piece.

Added on 26-Feb-2006

Bill Flanagan, the Sunday magazine show popular music correspondent, comments on rock music in commercials.The commentary piece uses Queen's "I Want To Break Free" as used in the Coke C2 commercial. Queen and the song is not mentioned by name in the piece--as is U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, and others--but Queenspotters got their money's worth: the song appears in the teaser at the top of the show, the "stay tuned" bit before commercial, and is the lead-in bit as Flanagan begins his piece.

A link to a slightly different text version is below:

Aw heck, I'll just paste it in:

Selling Records Or Selling Out?

Feb. 26, 2006(CBS) When people list the great moral debates of our time, the chart toppers tend to be capital punishment, abortion, privacy. And the war with cult favorites, like stem cell research and animal rights, runs a little further down the survey.

But there is one moral debate that has been raging fiercely in certain quarters of this country for 40 years. Billions of dollars have been spent and many, many millions of dollars have been refused because of the seriousness with which those involved treat this issue.

The issue is: is it ethical for a rock musician to let his songs be used in TV commercials?

OK, I'll admit, it's not exactly on a par with emancipation vs. state's rights, but for many rock fans and musicians, this has been a hot topic for years, reports CBS Sunday Morning contributor Bill Flanagan.

Ever since the baby boomers grew up, rock 'n' roll has been the music of movie soundtracks and TV commercials. There's a generation of people for whom "Heard it Through the Grapevine" is about dancing raisins. Some artists are happy for the money and exposure. Some are appalled.

The Beatles don't control their music publishing, but they have sued to stop advertisers from licensing their songs. John was already dead by the time this became a big issue, but Paul, George and Ringo felt they had to preserve the group's legacy by not allowing the music to be cheapened by association with, say, running shoes.

A lot of boomer musicians feel the same way. Tom Petty, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello have refused all kinds of huge offers to license their songs to commercials. Neil Young even wrote a song called "This Note's for You" that mocked musicians who sold out.

Tom Waits goes even further: he has successfully sued to stop ad agencies from hiring Tom Waits sound-alikes. He's made a lot of money in settlements and set some new case law by being so dogged. Waits takes his work very seriously.

Not everyone does. Two of the surviving Doors sued the third, drummer John Densmore, for blocking their attempts to sell Doors songs to commercials. Densmore said it was counter to everything the band had stood for, and added that if Jim Morrison were really dead he'd turn over in his grave. Well, actually I made up that last part but you get the idea. Densmore believes the Doors stood for something bigger than making the most bucks off the old songs, and they should preserve their dignity.

Other rock stars of the sixties and seventies used to feel that way, but now seem unsure. Led Zeppelin refused for years to license their songs not only to commercials, but to movies and TV shows. That changed a few years ago, when "Rock and Roll" became the theme of Cadillac. Led Zeppelin's explanation was that since radio had gotten so rotten and was no longer playing their songs, they wanted to keep their music in front of a big audience and TV commercials offered a way to do that and get paid for it.

And here a new wrinkle came into the debate.

As long as classic rock radio kept cranking out the hits of the sixties and seventies, a lot of older rock stars took the high ground against licensing their songs to advertisements. But in the last 10 years or so, radio has gotten more and more restricted. You no longer hear "Maggie May" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" every time you turn the dial, and so some musicians have

Submitted by: Daniel Nester

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