Song of the Day: The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

This song turned 20 years old on June 10, and it seems like it began heading towards timelessness long before then. It’s the band’s biggest hit, but of course the royalties from the song went elsewhere. The song uses a sample from an orchestral version of “The Last Time” by The Rolling Stones, performed by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The Verve got permission to use the sample from Decca Records, who owned the orchestral version, but not from Stones manager Allen Klein, who through his ABKCO Music held publishing rights to “The Last Time.” Klein insisted that Ashcroft sold the rights to the song to ABKCO in order for the song to get released, which eventually was agreed to. Ashcroft received $1,000, while ABKCO has been able to make a killing from owning the rights to the song. The song is now credited to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft, who once remarked that the song was “the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years.” Andrew Oldham also eventually sued for royalties, but his winnings paled in comparison to what the Stones won from the song. In related news, The Verve recently announced a special anniversary release of the album this song is from, Urban Hymns. A six-disc version will be available; I’m a fan of Urban Hymns, but a six-disc set seems a bit much.

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