As I begin typing this, I'm sitting in the dark, with headphones on, listening to Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.
I used to listen to music in the dark a lot in high school and through college. In fact, I first heard Pink Floyd while falling asleep to WDAI (or was it WKQX?) out of Chicago on my new Pioneer SX-750 receiver hooked up to my equally new Epicure 10 speakers (a combo I bought with the first $700 I ever made that, as I recall, made my dad quite upset with me). I discovered FM radio every night (both waking and sleeping) with that setup.
Anyway, I was recently thinking about some things for work while listening to the Floyd's Animals. Something that has always stood out to me since my very first listen to that album is how some of the opening vocal lines of a verse on Sheep seamlessly transition into a sustained musical note. That struck me as both unique and cool, at the time. I would wonder, "Am I the only one who notices this?" "Am I even hearing what I think I'm hearing?" I had no internet to consult in the late 70s. Now, I can read ... a held note from the vocalist (Waters) being crossfaded into the same note on a synthesizer ... and know I am not alone.
Listening now, I have a tremendous amount of personal listening history from which involuntary connections can be made. What I remembered was that Frank Sinatra does something that sounds kind of similar in Moonlight In Vermont. He sings the end of a verse "...so hypnotized by the lovely..." in way that phonetically transitions perfectly with the start of the beginning of the next verse "...evening summer breeze... ."
Listen to it on Come Fly With Me.
It is not as pronounced the first time it happens but it seems clear on the second that he must be trying for this effect. Compare what he sings at 1:23 with 2:35. Although I was much older than when I first heard Pink Floyd, when I first heard this I also thought it was both unique and cool. And later, as I listened to more and more Sinatra, I came across a live recording of this song at the Sands in Las Vegas.
At 2:17, in a way that is typical Sinatra, you can hear how he plainly calls attention to the fact that this transition is not only his intent but also the intent of the songwriters.
Hearing this, I did not immediately make a connection to Pink Floyd. But later, during my recent listen to Animals, it struck me that these were so similar that just maybe the Floyd was influenced by Sinatra. Wouldn't that be cool? But I have no idea. Let me know if you know of a connection between them.
Even if there is no actual connection, it reminds me of how often we come across something that seems unique only to eventually discover that some prior art existed. For me, it is a check to be humble with ideas I have and search out where other similar ideas have happened before. Beyond the humility aspect, how someone fleshed out an idea might help you see things in your similar idea that you did not see yourself. Tapping into past work doesn't have to stifle originality.
"Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another."