"You Took Advantage of Me" Lead Sheet

• Aug 4, 2022 - 00:20

Does anyone have access to a lead sheet for the song "You Took Advantage of Me" Rodgers & Hart 1928, preferably in the key of F or G? I wrote parody lyrics. Do you know if the music is in public domain? Thanks, Susan


In reply to by elsewhere

Thanks so much. I transposed “You Took Advantage of Me” to the Key of G.

I don’t dare to criticize the great Richard Rodgers, and maybe there is something I missed.
But some of those chord placements on the first lead sheet seem strange.

For example, the second measure (“sap that’s all”)
puts the chord change on the third beat, which is often right.

But the melody note changes an 8th note before the chord on the word “all”, and the 8th notes is linked to the following half note. I attached a PDF. Should I try to attach a MuseScore file. (I'm not sure how)
Care to comment? Thanks, Susan

Attachment Size
You_Took_Advantage_Of_Me.pdf 52.09 KB

In reply to by Singingheart

You write: “But the melody note changes an 8th note before the chord on the word “all”, and the 8th notes is linked to the following half note”. This is the way the ‘swing’ aspect of the song is notated. To put the chord symbol over the eight note would only clutter things.
Also: beware that chord symbols in lead sheets are notoriously poor (usually put there by poorly payed first year students). I attach my ‘jazzy’ version…
You Took Advantage Of Me.mscz

In reply to by elsewhere

Thanks for explaining that this is how the "swing" aspect is notated.
I love your version of "You Took Advantage of Me" ! It plays perfectly!
I wrote my parody lyrics so they fit the music and reflect the saucy, jazzy spirit.

How would you feel about my using your jazzy version and transposing it to the Key of G?
Thanks, Susan

I can't speak for other countries, but in the US, anything written in 1926 or earlier is public domain; anything later is usually not unless someone messed up, or deliberately released it.

Next year, songs from 1927 will become public domain, and the year after that, songs from 1928, and so on. So if it was written in 1928, then it should be public domain "relatively" soon.

In reply to by Singingheart

As I said, songs written in 1926 are PD in the US today. A song written in 1927 becomes PD in there 2023, and a song written in 1928 becomes PD in 2024.

The ability to extend your own copyright was a one-time only thing; that already would have happened for this song. Any further extensions would need to happen by changing the law. And the only reason the copyright on this song has lasted as long as it has here is that it was already extended several times by law, mostly on account of Disney pushing for copyright law extensions to protect Mickey Mouse - another 1928 creation apparently.

But, the current feeling is, enough is enough, and there seems to be little support for extending the duration of copyright for these older works any further. So unless Disney pulls off with a legal miracle (which they've done before), Mickey Mouse and everything else created in 1928 goes PD in 2024, joining Winne the Pooh who became PD this year.

In reply to by Singingheart

What is copyrighted is the song itself in total - you don't have separate copyrights for its individual component. But, courts have generally ruled that while one song cannot borrow the melody or the lyrics from another, they can borrow the chords. This isn't set forth explicitly in law, but it's a well-established precedent.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for your knowledge and clarity! I'd rather compose music and write lyrics than pay lawyers. Here's my current solution. I already wrote the parody (most club musicians know the original music). I can borrow the chords (common practice) and write a new melody in the swing jazz style with saucy lyrics :) I may not be Richard Rodgers, but (as Mercutio said about his stab wound in "Romeo and Juliet") "'twill do!"

In reply to by Singingheart

FWIW, you don't even need a new melody if you aren't publishing your arrangement. You're free to perform copyrighted music as long as the club you are performing in pays its usual fees for this right (eg, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and other organization that collect and distribute these royalties. So, any club where it's legal to perform "You Took Advantage of Me" - which is basically any club that advertises live music - then you can legally perform your lyrics as well. The only thing you can't do with your copyrighted arrangement is post publish it or otherwise share it online - other than on websites like musescore.com that also collect fees (from ads, and from Pro accounts) and distribute those to the copyright owners.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You are right. I do sing standards and jazz in clubs, and I assume they pay the usual fees for copyrighted material (including the music for my parodies). It's not my business, and I don't ask. I also write original songs and musicals, which I share online and intend to publish. I believe that chord progressions are not copyrightable. Is that correct? If I'm wrong about the chords, I can change some. I like Richard Rodgers' chords, but there are other choices :)

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.