LOS ANGELES — Summer 2013 was blurry for Robin Thicke, according to what the “Blurred Lines” singer told lawyers in April.
“Every day I woke up, I would take a Vicodin to start the day and then I would fill up a water bottle with vodka and drink it before and during my interviews,” Thicke said in a deposition transcript made public Monday.
Being high and drunk appears to be Thicke’s defense in a high-stakes lawsuit filed by Marvin Gaye’s family against Thicke, producer Pharrell Williams and hip-hop artist “T.I.” Clifford Harris Jr.
The lawsuit filed last fall contends Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is an illegal rip-off of Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
“It is a musical impossibility,” he said in in the April 23, 2014 deposition. “They’re two complete different syncopations and note choices and different keys. One’s a minor key and one’s a major key.”
Fans, journalists and music experts immediately recognized similarities between Gaye’s 1977 hit and the 2013’s summertime smash, Gaye’s heirs contend.
New York Times writer Rob Hoerburger wrote that the “Blurred Lines” bass line “came right from” Gaye’s song.
Musicologist Judith Finell, an expert hired by the Gaye family lawyers, said she identified a “constellation of at least eight substantially similar compositional features between the two works. … The signature phrase, vocal hook, backup vocal hook, their variations, and the keyboard and bass lines” are substantially similar and they share “departures from convention such as the unusual cowbell instrumentation, omission of guitar and use of male falsetto,” she said.
If it was stolen, Thicke was too high and drunk to do it, his testimony suggested. “I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio,” Thicke said.
“I walked in and he [Pharrell Williams] started singing me some ideas he had and the song happened very quickly,” he said. “I jumped right into the booth and started singing whatever he said.”
Thicke does claim creation of the melody and four-part harmonies in the second verse, but otherwise Pharrell Williams “geniused the whole thing.”
Several print and video interviews Thicke gave last summer tell a different story of Thicke being thickly involved in creating writing and producing the hit.
“Pharrell and I were in the studio making a couple records, and then on the third day, I told him I wanted to do something kinda like Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up,’ that kind of feel ’cause it’s one of my favorite songs of all time,” Thicke told Billboard Magazine for a story published in July. “So he started messing with some drums and then he started going ‘hey, hey, hey’ and about an hour and a half later we had the whole record finished.”
Thicke now says he was lying to interviewers, partly blaming drugs and alcohol.
“With all due respect, I was high and drunk every time I did an interview last year,” he said in the deposition. “So there are some quotes I don’t remember saying, but I do generally remember trying to sell the public on the fact that ‘Blurred Lines’ was my idea in some way.”
His lies were elaborations he “thought it would help sell records,” he said.
“I thought that it being my song — my idea would make it more personal because my music has always been so personal, that this was the first time I had a song out that wasn’t personal and had nothing to do with me, and yet it was my biggest successful, which, you know, was very tough for me. And so I lied in my story so I could at least make it seem like, hey, I’m the guy who came up with this great idea.”
Thicke denied the lawsuit’s contention that he has a “Marvin Gaye fixation.”
“I’ve been called ‘the white Marvin Gaye’ since I got started,” he said. “So I think I’ve embraced that, consider it an honor.”
Thicke said that he was not drugged or drunk during the April deposition. In fact, he had been sober for the previous two months, he said.
“I’ve actually only been sober off the pills, off of Vicodin,” he later said. “I still drink.”
“When your wife leaves you, it gives you good reason to sober up,” he said. Thicke and his wife, Paula Patton, publicly announced that they had separated in February.
“Sorry,” he told the lawyer. “That’s why I’m starting to feel a little sad, because I had a tough year.”
People reports the deposition also included this: “Do you consider yourself an honest person?” a prosecutor asked Thicke, who responded, “No. That’s why I’m separated. I told my wife the truth. That’s why she left me.”
Thicke, who has a 20% writing credit for “Blurred Lines,” said he didn’t know how much money he’s made off the huge hit, since he let’s his business manager take care of his finances.
“Blurred Lines” stayed at the top of Billboard’s pop chart for a record 16 weeks this summer and sold more than 6 million copies, according to court documents.
Gaye’s heirs also accuse Thicke of stealing from their father’s 1976 hit “After the Dance” when he recorded “Love After War” in 2011. Those tunes “contain substantially similar compositional material in their choruses, including the melodies of their hooks,” the Gaye filing contends.