Two for Tuesday: “Love Is A Wonderful Thing”

A slightly different take on Two for Tuesday this week: instead of two songs by the same artist, the same song (maybe) by two different artists.

This week, let’s talk about the “maybe.” It concerns two songs named “Love is a Wonderful Thing.” The Isley Brothers recorded their version in 1966 on the Veep label. It peaked at #110 on the US Billboard chart.

In 1991, Michael Bolton recorded the second version of the song for his album, Time, Love, And Tenderness. It reached #4 on the Hot 100 and was used in the movie MacGruber.

In 1994, the Isleys sued Bolton, co-author Andrew Goldmark, and Sony Music Entertainment (parent company of Columbia Records, Bolton’s label) for copyright infringement, claiming that there were more similarities to their song than the title. Bolton claimed that he had never even heard the Isley Brothers’ version and created his version independently. A jury found in favor of the Isleys and ordered all involved to pay them all of the profit from sales of the single, plus 28% of the profit from the sale of the album, an amount exceeding $5 million. The verdict was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that decision.

My opinion? The Isley Brothers are (or should be) Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers, while Bolton has a pleasant voice that some people like. But these are two different songs. They share a number of similarities, but so do a lot of songs. Bolton says he never heard the Isleys’ version, and my guess is that neither did a lot of people.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide. I’d love to know what you think. Give the songs a listen and tell me what you think.

“Love is a Wonderful Thing,” your Two for Tuesday, May 6, 2014.