Paul McCartney was not above the occasional example of plagiarism while a member of The Beatles. The Fab Four were frequently accused of copying early rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry. But, after years of waiting, McCartney finally got a taste of what it was like to be on the other side.
If you ask any McCartney fan, they’ll tell you that McCartney II is a classic. The album is undeniably one of his best, with ‘Waterfalls’ standing out as a standout track. Despite the fact that the song was never released as a single, it is an aural joy that deserves more attention. That is, according to Paul McCartney, who feels the song should be one of his most popular.
McCartney made this comment in a 2007 interview with The AV Club when asked about songs he feels should be greater successes. He responded:
“There’s quite a few, actually. I like… There’s one called ‘Daytime Nighttime Suffering,’ which I think’s really cool. One called ‘Waterfalls,’ I think is nice.”
Macca then subtly introduced TLC into the mix, saying:
“In fact, somebody had a hit, a few years ago, using the first line [of my song], ‘Don’t go jumping waterfalls / Please stick to the lake…’ And then they go off into another song. It’s like, ‘Excuse me?’”
McCartney would have a good case if he decided to charge TLC with plagiarism. Although there are unmistakable similarities in the lyrics and melodies of the two renditions of “Waterfalls,” Macca is not inclined to devote his time to a pointless legal battle. On the other hand, McCartney would have appreciated some appreciation for his efforts.
Even though it might just be a coincidence, Paul McCartney is regarded as one of the best artists in the world. Since no one on the songwriting and production team or at their label had heard McCartney’s original, it would be astounding.
The song’s significance was once explained by McCartney (according to BeatlesBible):
“‘Waterfalls’ is basically saying don’t go doing a load of dangerous stuff, ’cause I need you. And that’s a kind of more mature thought for me than I would have been able to have done 20 years ago, ’cause I just didn’t realise that it’s not all gonna be here for ever. That’s the kind of thing you realise when you pass 30.”
TLC had a tremendous hit with “Waterfalls,” which went to number one in the US twice. The fact that this song is still frequently played nearly 30 years later is a testament to how brilliant it was. Paul McCartney should receive some of the credit for the R&B classic, though.
Listen to both songs below: