Bands that share songwriting credit

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    Bands that share songwriting credit

    There are two high-profile bands that I know of that consistently shared / still share song-writing credits over the years.   This means an entire album is defined as a full collaboration, even if one or two members of the band are the (known or presumed) primary songwriters -- all members get equal credit.  

    What bands that you know of have shared songwriting credit all, or least some of the time?   How about bands that have done an occasional album with fully shared songwriting credit?  

    Also, do you prefer credits that inform you in more detail?   Do you like knowing more specifically who writes the songs?    In theory, I like shared credits; it's a very non-egocentric way of doing business.    No doubt, it's also nice to know, and give credit to, specific musical artists that have the songwriting heart, soul and talent.   Both ways of dealing with credit for songwriting have merit, so if the band is in agreement, so am I. 

    Any thoughts?

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    I prefer accuracy in credits. That being said, if the entire band contributes to the overall creation and construction of the song, I think they deserve credit even if the main, original idea for the song came mainly from one or two members. It all depends on how they work as a band. If there is one leader who pretty much writes the songs and orchestrates everything, they deserve most of the credit. This may appear egotistical, but if it is accurate I have no problem with that.

    Songwriting credit can be tricky, and sometimes credit is given more as a sign of ownership than actual creative input. I prefer it to be strictly about creative input. Each musician in a band brings their own distinct contribution to the sound of the songs, but that is not quite the same as the creation and shaping of a song.

    Now can you flip over the cards and let me know the bands that give equal credit to all members? Right now I can't come up with any.





    "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change."

    -Elvis Presley

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    Hi DD,

    Thanks.  I'm going to yoga in a few minutes (isn't that where I always seem to be headed ...  and a beautiful day for it, too), but thought I'd check in for a minute before I leave.

    I'll be back later -- but the bands  that I know of that have done shared credits are (and were) U2 and REM.    Also, apparently the Doors did it (not sure how consistently); if I am not correct on the Doors, and anyone wants to refute this, please do.  

    There are others, too.   Let's see if anyone on the forum knows of other bands or albums. 

    I like your opinion, and agree with much of what you said, too.  It's tricky.  Later.  

    I never make the same mistake twice.  I make it five or six times, just to be sure.  

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    It's a huge issue for bands, and is often a reason for conflict/breakup.  It's mainly about money, but there are artistic/legacy issues too.  There are many examples of joint songwriting credits (Beatles, Stones).  There are bands that share songwriting jointly, but it's not very common and is becoming less common all the time.

    The Ramones were an interesting case.  Joey and Dee Dee were the main songwriters....Johnny wrote very little.  Marky wrote a bit.  For years the credits were joint. Not really fair, but they were mates so.....

    By the early/mid 80s Dee Dee had become the main songwriter and, appropriately IMO, said he wanted each songwriter to get individual credits.  Absolutely right and fair.  But Johnny was such a baby the credits on the LPs/CDs remained "Ramones" but they were all officially registered in the name of the actual composer.

     

    BTW, I have two friends that were expecting a child recently. They chose not to know the gender, but chose the baby's name regardless of it's gender:  Her name is Dee Dee!

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit


    Songwriting credits are a huge issue for bands, it's one of those things that breaks up a lot of bands too.

    Same with "B" sides of those things called vinyl 45's. The "A" side was the hit and the "B" side was usually just another track to give the listener/fan. On a rare occassion you would get a "AA" single. The issue? If it was two differant songwriters they "both" shared in the profits of that hit single!

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to SonicsMonksLyresVicars' comment:

    It's a huge issue for bands, and is often a reason for conflict/breakup.  It's mainly about money, but there are artistic/legacy issues too.  There are many examples of joint songwriting credits (Beatles, Stones).  There are bands that share songwriting jointly, but it's not very common and is becoming less common all the time.

    The Ramones were an interesting case.  Joey and Dee Dee were the main songwriters....Johnny wrote very little.  Marky wrote a bit.  For years the credits were joint. Not really fair, but they were mates so.....

    By the early/mid 80s Dee Dee had become the main songwriter and, appropriately IMO, said he wanted each songwriter to get individual credits.  Absolutely right and fair.  But Johnny was such a baby the credits on the LPs/CDs remained "Ramones" but they were all officially registered in the name of the actual composer.

     

    BTW, I have two friends that were expecting a child recently. They chose not to know the gender, but chose the baby's name regardless of it's gender:  Her name is Dee Dee!

     



    Yes, Dee Dee was the primary songwriter, so it was generous to share credits with the entire band early on.  It is dicey, but from what I saw, some groups can agree to split the money equally if they decide to go with a joint group credit for song writing.

    Also, there might be a diff between copyright and giving credits on an album, so the money rightfully goes to the actual songwriter(s).   Either way, I can see why it's not a popular way of doing business.  :)

    Dee Dee (as well as "DD") is a lovely unisex name -- I like it lots -- it works for either gender wonderfully.   An eye catcher for a resume (far off in the future) some day!  

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to devildavid's comment:

    I prefer accuracy in credits. That being said, if the entire band contributes to the overall creation and construction of the song, I think they deserve credit even if the main, original idea for the song came mainly from one or two members. It all depends on how they work as a band. If there is one leader who pretty much writes the songs and orchestrates everything, they deserve most of the credit. This may appear egotistical, but if it is accurate I have no problem with that.

    Songwriting credit can be tricky, and sometimes credit is given more as a sign of ownership than actual creative input. I prefer it to be strictly about creative input. Each musician in a band brings their own distinct contribution to the sound of the songs, but that is not quite the same as the creation and shaping of a song.

    Now can you flip over the cards and let me know the bands that give equal credit to all members? Right now I can't come up with any.





    "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change."

    -Elvis Presley



    Actually, I don't think it's egotistical to assign credit where it is due in the case of song writing.  It's a talent and a skill -- that deserves to be given to the people who are gifted in that realm.   You could say the producer or the recording engineers are also part of the creative input regarding the ultimate way a song is recorded and arranged, but the song writing is entirely separate, and in most cases, not really shared among a group.   

    So do you want us to call you "Dee Dee" from now on?!   You know, I have a few friends that call me Yoga these days ... it's not that far fetched for a screen name to take hold. 

    Oh, and Coldplay is another band that is known for doing band songwriting credits on their albums. 

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to russgriswold's comment:

     

    In response to yogafriend's comment:

     

    In response to devildavid's comment:

     

     

    I prefer accuracy in credits. That being said, if the entire band contributes to the overall creation and construction of the song, I think they deserve credit even if the main, original idea for the song came mainly from one or two members. It all depends on how they work as a band. If there is one leader who pretty much writes the songs and orchestrates everything, they deserve most of the credit. This may appear egotistical, but if it is accurate I have no problem with that.

    Songwriting credit can be tricky, and sometimes credit is given more as a sign of ownership than actual creative input. I prefer it to be strictly about creative input. Each musician in a band brings their own distinct contribution to the sound of the songs, but that is not quite the same as the creation and shaping of a song.

    Now can you flip over the cards and let me know the bands that give equal credit to all members? Right now I can't come up with any.





    "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change."

    -Elvis Presley

     

     



    Actually, I don't think it's egotistical to assign credit where it is due in the case of song writing.  It's a talent and a skill -- that deserves to be given to the people who are gifted in that realm.   You could say the producer or the recording engineers are also part of the creative input regarding the ultimate way a song is recorded and arranged, but the song writing is entirely separate, and in most cases, not really shared among a group.   

     

     

    So do you want us to call you "Dee Dee" from now on?!   You know, I have a few friends that call me Yoga these days ... it's not that far fetched for a screen name to take hold. 

    Oh, and Coldplay is another band that is known for doing band songwriting credits on their albums. 



    I think Coldplay is boring with all songs sounding the same, but they should get credit for doing that part right.

     

    Here's my thing:

    Outside of the rhythm section, not that it's not vital, how can a two guitar band or a one guitar band with keyboards, not includes those instruments with the credits, especially if the people playing those instruments have key parts in the melody?  

    It makes no sense. If you have 2 key pieces of the melody that make the song, whoever wrote it, should get credit.

    Like, for example, the Dead had two writers of the music. Jerry wrote 90% of the material and he worked with a lyricist, Robert Hunter. 

    THen, Bob Weir, not as talented, wrote stuff with a guy named John Barlow. So, the main people who wrote the melodies and lyrics were those people.

    Look at John Paul Jones from Zeppelin. Totally robbed on many compositions.  He was a huge presence on keys for them and wrote and produced a lot of the stuff on their last album in 1979.

    When you have multiple talents all over the band, you're better off conceding credits. It'd be different if the band mates you hired never contributed parts to the songs, but that is usually not the case with bands.  

    The Band had a major issue with Robbie Robertson and their legal issues, where he claimed to be the chief songwriter, etc. Traffic is another band that had egos clash between members, too.

    The Eagles had issues. Don Felder wrote the music for Hotel California and never got a credit.   That's weak.   That song was the backdrop of their biggest album by far and made them millionaires.

     

     

     

    Good post, but you may be confusing songwriting, with song arranging. For a lot of bands, it's the folks who actually sit down and write the melody, or lyrics, that get the songwriting credit. When a flute, drum, guitar, etc, is part/solo is added, its is usually considered part of the arrangment and not part of the songwritng process. It's a fine line.  The songwriter, who pens the song, is not about to surrender those roylaties even if another band member introduces a fantastic guitar solo which becomes the song's signature.. Fair or not, it is standard practice in the music business, along with intellectual property copywriting . There are a few noteable exceptions, some already discussed above, bands who put their differences aside, and consider the whole song writng process to include everything from sitting down at the laptop, and piano alone, to studio work, rehersal, etc..and take everyone's contribution's and dole out songwriting credits after it is recorded. U2 is a great example of that. With them you often see not only band members given credit, but the record producer as well.

     

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    polar,

    I agree with your post. I was thinking along the same line. Not being in a band, I wouldn't know how I feel about it. If one member wrote a basic melody and another wrote the lyrics, that's easy to credit them. But in recording, if the bass player and drummer add a lot to the rhthym section and the lead guitarist -- let's say it's someone different than whoever wrote the melody -- adds a lot with his guitar solos, at what point do they deserve credit too.

    With Led Zep, Page often came up with the basic sound for the song from which Plant would add lyrics. Then in recording, Page would add guitar solos. That's a large part of the final song and easy to credit the two of them for the song. But at what level does Jones need to contribute to be included in the songwriting.

    I know there are songs where he -- and all of them -- share credit. To be honest, I don't know the answer. In the best case scenario, you would hope that the band members would automatically know how much of the collaberation during recording was important to the final sound.

    On the other hand, even if there was a lot of collaberation in recording, is it fair to give the other band members equal share in the credit when one or two of the members spent a lot of time before going into the studio coming up with the basis for 10 songs or so that becomes the album they're making? Without those 10 demos, there would be nothing for the others to collaberate on.

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    I said taking writing credit could appear egotistical. This is becasue most of us fans don't really know what is going on internally with bands. The rock press then prints rumors and innuendo and it could be easy to conclude that dominant personalities in a band take the lion's share of the credit, whether they deserve it or not. For example, I have read of a disagreement between Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson over Robertson taking most of the songwriting credits for The Band. My gut feeling is that all the member of The Band probably made significant contributions to song creation. But did Robertson actually write the songs all by himself? I guess it depends on how you define writing a song. I'm not sure there is much formal rock music writing but more of a working it out alone or with others while playing musical instruments.





    "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change."

    -Elvis Presley

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to devildavid's comment:

    I said taking writing credit could appear egotistical. This is becasue most of us fans don't really know what is going on internally with bands. The rock press then prints rumors and innuendo and it could be easy to conclude that dominant personalities in a band take the lion's share of the credit, whether they deserve it or not. For example, I have read of a disagreement between Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson over Robertson taking most of the songwriting credits for The Band. My gut feeling is that all the member of The Band probably made significant contributions to song creation. But did Robertson actually write the songs all by himself? I guess it depends on how you define writing a song. I'm not sure there is much formal rock music writing but more of a working it out alone or with others while playing musical instruments.





    "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change."

    -Elvis Presley



    Define songwriting?  If someone is not in the room while the song is being written, then they could not have been a co-writer.   Editors are not writers.   If the song gets edited, that's one thing.   If it gets entirely re-worked and changed by a band mate later, and the re-worked version gets used rather than the original, then change the intended credits.   Otherwise, it's clear who did the writing. 

    You may be underestimating songwriting that's quite a bit more than "working it out while playing musical instruments"  (jamming?)  as opposed to lyrics and music that have been written.   Just look at your collection of music, check the liner notes, and decide if there was a serious songwriting process for yourself.   Nick Lowe?   Elvis Costello?   What they did and still do isn't skillful songwriting?  

    Arranging, recording, decisions around all of the details are not songwriting.    Bands cover songs all the time, and even "re-brand" songs that way, but they didn't write them.   Very similar to what a playwright or script-writer does.   They write the text --- but it doesn't come to life until you get the actors / director / etc.   As you say, it can get very blurry when the people are actually in the process, no doubt. 

    From an article I saw in The Guardian:

    "Do you think Lennon and McCartney would have written half the classics they did if they'd spent their time arguing about who wrote what, and trying to get more songs than the other onto each album?

    To avoid these kinds of disagreements, many frontmen of bands choose to give their fellow members a share. Chris Martin splits the publishing between all the band members, even though he writes the songs. Bono claims the lyric credits but splits the music credits equally between himself and the band members. Then again, the Stereophonics' Kelly Jones keeps it all for himself."

    BTW, the article states as the bottom line to avoid problems:  Put the agreement in writing and sign off on it legally if possible.   Decide ahead of time how the songwriting credits will be documented.   That's the best (and possibly only) way of remaining issue-free.   :)

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to royf19's comment:

     If one member wrote a basic melody and another wrote the lyrics, it's easy to credit them.  In recording, if the bass player and drummer add a lot to the rhthym section and the lead guitarist -- let's say it's someone different than whoever wrote the melody -- adds a lot with his guitar solos, at what point do they deserve credit too.

    On the other hand, even if there was a lot of collaberation in recording, is it fair to give the other band members equal share in the credit when one or two of the members spent a lot of time before going into the studio coming up with the basis for 10 songs or so that becomes the album they're making? Without those 10 demos, there would be nothing for the others to collaberate on.

    @Roy:

    Without the song, there's nothing.   Songwriting is the core.   Recording studio engineers and producers (if hired) are responsible for a great deal of the end result of the sound, feel, emotion and all resulting aspects of the recording.   Can make or break the actual song, in fact.  

    Otherwise, IMO, what you're talking about are aspects of being a musician.   That's their job.   Good musicians do prepare before a session, they do make demos, they do come up with ideas.    That's their JOB.    It's part of the fabric.  

    I wanted to see if the group here had examples, and get opinions as to how they felt about sharing credit for songwriting with the entire band, again, such as in the case of U2, Coldplay, and other bands.   

    Teams win games.   Yet, every athlete has their own stats, their own achievements, their own legacy, apart from the teams they've been part of.    There's never even a second thought that a member of a major league team would sacrifice their own stats because of the fact that they play on a team.  

    The more I think about taking song-writing and sharing the credit for it, when it is clearly, predominantly the domain of particular band mates, and seeing that there have been bands that have been able to do this and remain intact, well, all power to them, you know?

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    BTW, this is a comment I saw, following the article I read, re: Deep Purple (I'm assuming this is accurate):

    "On the subject of shared credits, my first ever album purchase was "Machine Head" by Deep Purple; even as a 10-year old, I was struck by the democracy and teamwork evidenced by the credits on each song: Blackmore / Gillan / Glover / Lord / Paice."

     

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to yogafriend's comment:

    Define songwriting?  If someone is not in the room while the song is being written, then they could not have been a co-writer.   Editors are not writers.   If the song gets edited, that's one thing.   If it gets entirely re-worked and changed by a band mate later, and the re-worked version gets used rather than the original, then change the intended credits.   Otherwise, it's clear who did the writing. 

    You may be underestimating songwriting that's quite a bit more than "working it out while playing musical instruments"  (jamming?)  as opposed to lyrics and music that have been written.   Just look at your collection of music, check the liner notes, and decide if there was a serious songwriting process for yourself.   Nick Lowe?   Elvis Costello?   What they did and still do isn't skillful songwriting?  

    Arranging, recording, decisions around all of the details are not songwriting.    Bands cover songs all the time, and even "re-brand" songs that way, but they didn't write them.   Very similar to what a playwright or script-writer does.   They write the text --- but it doesn't come to life until you get the actors / director / etc.   As you say, it can get very blurry when the people are actually in the process, no doubt. 

    From an article I saw in The Guardian:

    "Do you think Lennon and McCartney would have written half the classics they did if they'd spent their time arguing about who wrote what, and trying to get more songs than the other onto each album?

    To avoid these kinds of disagreements, many frontmen of bands choose to give their fellow members a share. Chris Martin splits the publishing between all the band members, even though he writes the songs. Bono claims the lyric credits but splits the music credits equally between himself and the band members. Then again, the Stereophonics' Kelly Jones keeps it all for himself."

    BTW, the article states as the bottom line to avoid problems:  Put the agreement in writing and sign off on it legally if possible.   Decide ahead of time how the songwriting credits will be documented.   That's the best (and possibly only) way of remaining issue-free.   :)



    I can't always assume I know what the songwriting process was. Remember, this is a thread about bands sharing credit. Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and others like them are known more as individual performers than members of a band. We assume they wrote the songs because they usually perform them under their own stage name. That's why I used the example of Robbie Robertson and The Band. I don't know for certain that Robertson sat alone in a room 'writing" songs and then presented them to the rest of the band. Maybe some songs can be "written" as a group all sitting in the same room working it out on their respective musical instruments. I don't have any experience in songwriting or being in a band so I really don't know the process of songwriting. I imagine it can be done in many different ways. But I think many rock songwriters "write" their songs on a tape recorder.

    Another method was used by Led Zeppelin. They would take a song someone else recorded and put their names on it and voila, they wrote a song. (Sorry, couldn't resist that jab).

     

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to devildavid's comment:



    I can't always assume I know what the songwriting process was. Remember, this is a thread about bands sharing credit. Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and others like them are known more as individual performers than members of a band. We assume they wrote the songs because they usually perform them under their own stage name. That's why I used the example of Robbie Robertson and The Band. I don't know for certain that Robertson sat alone in a room 'writing" songs and then presented them to the rest of the band. Maybe some songs can be "written" as a group all sitting in the same room working it out on their respective musical instruments. I don't have any experience in songwriting or being in a band so I really don't know the process of songwriting. I imagine it can be done in many different ways. But I think many rock songwriters "write" their songs on a tape recorder.

    Another method was used by Led Zeppelin. They would take a song someone else recorded and put their names on it and voila, they wrote a song. (Sorry, couldn't resist that jab).

     



    I was wondering how long it would take for Led Zeppelin to get a mention, and I must say, you used a great deal of self-restraint to have waited until now.  Laughing

    (BTW, the thread where we discussed the controversy over LZ was one of our best discussions, IMO.   Since then, I now notice comments re: their "legacy of songwriting" (to be polite) in many articles / discussions / comments that I read, and I don't feel as torn about it as I have in the past.   In any event,  food for thought is never a bad thing).  

    Like everything else, there's no "one way" to write anything, I suppose.   Some hammer out a tune on a piano, some a guitar, some ... who knows?    All I can say in summary is that it's a skill, and a talent that everyone in a band does not possess.   Unless it's the style of the band to sit and hammer out songs together regularly, the writing usually falls on the same member(s), and this is why you will normally see those names repeatedly given credit for the songs.  

    It's a staggering thought to realize that some bands / artists have written hundreds of songs, and have so many hits, they can fill an entire full-length concert just with hits, and still not have time to perform all of them.  

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to yogafriend's comment:



    I was wondering how long it would take for Led Zeppelin to get a mention, and I must say, you used a great deal of self-restraint to have waited until now.  Laughing

     

    (BTW, the thread where we discussed the controversy over LZ was one of our best discussions, IMO.   Since then, I now notice comments re: their "legacy of songwriting" (to be polite) in many articles / discussions / comments that I read, and I don't feel as torn about it as I have in the past.   In any event,  food for thought is never a bad thing).  

    Like everything else, there's no "one way" to write anything, I suppose.   Some hammer out a tune on a piano, some a guitar, some ... who knows?    All I can say in summary is that it's a skill, and a talent that everyone in a band does not possess.   Unless it's the style of the band to sit and hammer out songs together regularly, the writing usually falls on the same member(s), and this is why you will normally see those names repeatedly given credit for the songs.  

    It's a staggering thought to realize that some bands / artists have written hundreds of songs, and have so many hits, they can fill an entire full-length concert just with hits, and still not have time to perform all of them.  



    I can't say for sure that every band only has certain members capable of writing a song. It may seem this is true, but it may not be absolutely true. Even if it is rare, I don't rule out the possibility of group songwriting. Many creative people (other than Led Zeppelin) often poach ideas, knowingly or not, from other creative people. Sometimes the songwriter may actually be the one with the biggest ego, whether or not full credit was deserved.

     
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    Re: Bands that share songwriting credit

    In response to devildavid's comment:

    In response to yogafriend's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     



    I was wondering how long it would take for Led Zeppelin to get a mention, and I must say, you used a great deal of self-restraint to have waited until now.  Laughing

     

    (BTW, the thread where we discussed the controversy over LZ was one of our best discussions, IMO.   Since then, I now notice comments re: their "legacy of songwriting" (to be polite) in many articles / discussions / comments that I read, and I don't feel as torn about it as I have in the past.   In any event,  food for thought is never a bad thing).  

    Like everything else, there's no "one way" to write anything, I suppose.   Some hammer out a tune on a piano, some a guitar, some ... who knows?    All I can say in summary is that it's a skill, and a talent that everyone in a band does not possess.   Unless it's the style of the band to sit and hammer out songs together regularly, the writing usually falls on the same member(s), and this is why you will normally see those names repeatedly given credit for the songs.  

    It's a staggering thought to realize that some bands / artists have written hundreds of songs, and have so many hits, they can fill an entire full-length concert just with hits, and still not have time to perform all of them.  

     



    I can't say for sure that every band only has certain members capable of writing a song. It may seem this is true, but it may not be absolutely true. Even if it is rare, I don't rule out the possibility of group songwriting. Many creative people (other than Led Zeppelin) often poach ideas, knowingly or not, from other creative people. Sometimes the songwriter may actually be the one with the biggest ego, whether or not full credit was deserved.

     

    [/QUOTE]

    I know a lot of bands intimately, and while quite a few credit songs to the band I can't think of any right now where more than two members contribute significantly to a song's creation.  

     

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