Johnny continues to reach new Deppths. On Thursday, August 4, a story in Rolling Stone suggested that Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck may have plagiarized the late folk-poet Slim Wilson on their song “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” by using lyrics without crediting them to him. Wilson recited the original poem “Hobo Ben” on the 1976 album of toasts, Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me, compiled by folklorist Bruce Jackson. Toasts are a traditionally Black form of oratorical narrative poetry, making this lyric-lift extra egregious. They allegedly didn’t just cop a few lines, either. Jackson told Rolling Stone, “The only two lines I could find in the whole piece that [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Big time motherfucker’ and ‘Bust it down to my level.’” The rest of the lyrics on “Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” are lifted from a printed version of the Wilson poem. The song is featured on Depp and Beck’s album, 18, because of course Depp has music-side-projects-for-his-music-side-projects.
Today, a spokesperson for the album released a statement saying that they are “reviewing the inquiry relating to the song ‘Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade.’ If appropriate, additional copyright credits will be added to all forms of the album.” But it may be too late. The Depp stans are probably already making memes on TikTok declaring a poor dead folk-poet their Enemy No. 1.