Genesis' 'Misunderstanding'/Zeppelin's 'Fool In The Rain'

OK. This just might be stretching the boundaries of ‘mundane’ and ‘pointless’ to the breaking point, but has anyone else beside me noticed the striking similarities between ‘Misunderstanding’ by Genesis and ‘Fool In The Rain’ by Led Zeppelin?

Consider the (almost) identical chord progressions in both songs. Hum the opening bars of ‘Misunderstanding’ at a little faster speed and see what I mean. Sure, ‘Fool In The Rain’ has an extra beat or two, but the chords are almost exactly the same.

Also, both songs are about the same subject: a guy waiting around for a girl after he’s been stood up. The Genesis tune even has a line ("…waiting in the rain for hours…") that almost seems like a tip of the hat to the Zeppelin song.

Has anyone from Genesis ever gone on record as stating that their song was, if not a remake, than at least an homage to the earlier Zeppelin classic?

Not that it’s keeping me up at night, but…

I’m afraid I don’t quite agree.

Fool in the Rain is one of my favourite songs of all time, and I’ve just downloaded this “Misunderstanding” of yours, and it doesn’t bear much of a resemblance.

I’m afraid I must disagree.

You have it backward. Fool in the Rain came out in 1979, on the In Through The Out Door. Genesis’s “Misunderstanding” came out in 1977 or 78.


Thanks for pointing out when the songs came out. I never bothered to check…I just assumed that ‘Misunderstanding’ was an 80s song.


I’m not implying that they’re the SAME song by any means…just that the chord progression is almost identical (check out the sheet music for each song), and that the two share a similar theme. I thought that maybe one was ‘borrowing’ from the other.

Yes, you are correct, the two musical motif’s are very similar. In fact, they are the same chords. They are both simple ascending progressions. The Zep tune goes C, Dm, Em, F, Am, G. The Genesis tune uses the same chords, except it starts on the Dm, omitting the C, giving it a five interval pattern, rather than a six, and thereby a different feel.

The Genesis tune also uses a very different drum pattern, almost a shuffle, giving it a bit of a Toto feel to it.

Fool was released in '79, Misunderstanding in '80. Misunderstanding was, however, recorded in '79. Genesis most likely took longer recording their album, as Zeppelin is known to work very quickly, while Genesis is known for spending time on a record, perfecting each section.

So, it is possible the one borrowed from the other, though it could go either way. Robert Plant and Phil Collins where chums (Phil played drums on Plants first two solo albums after Zeppelin folded a year later) so they may have even bounced ideas off of each other, then one subconsciously used it in a jam session with their band. I would be included to believe that Collins came up with the motif and lyrics, since they are very similar to other stuff he was writing at the time and the lyrics do reflect the relationship problems he was having. Going off of things the other Genesis members said at the time, Phil had just started writing songs and was playing his demos for people to get their opinions on his first compositions.

You are replying to a thread that is more than 12 years old. We call old threads like this that were brought back to life zombies, so expect a lot of braaaiiinnsss type jokes.

They’re actually both shuffles. The drum pattern in “Fool in the Rain,” in fact, is often called “the Bonham Shuffle.”

Despite it being a zombie thread, I do find this pretty interesting. I never made the connection between the two songs, but now I’ll never be able to hear “Misunderstanding” without thinking of “Fool in the Rain.” They are, indeed, quite similar in certain ways.

I knew I’d be vindicated if I waited long enough!

I should clarify one thing: both drum patters are shuffles, but “Fool in the Rain” is a half-time shuffle (snare on 3), and “Misunderstanding” is a regular shuffle with snare on 2 & 4.

The rhythm and bass line of “Misunderstanding” were actually nicked from Sly & the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime.”

Wow. Never noticed that before but it’s very similar.

I don’t really hear it, myself…oh, wait, I hear it now. About 30 seconds into the song. Hell, you could say “Fool in the Rain” nicked that, too (although “Misunderstanding” is more of a direct quote.) Interesting connection between the three songs.

Realize this is a zombie, but feel the need to correct this. The guy in Fool in the Rain hasn’t been stood up. He’s been waiting in the wrong place.

Final verse:

I’ll run in the rain till I’m breathless
When I’m breathless I’ll run till I drop, hey
The thoughts of a fool’s kind of careless
I’m just a fool waiting on the wrong block, oh yeah
Light of the love that I found…

Fool in the Rain is my favorite Led Zepplin song. My son and I were discussing it the other and he pointed out this would never happen today since, he would just call her and say, “Hey…I’m here. Where are you?” and she would say, “You idiot, I said meet on 5th not 6th.” Or something to that effect.

the zombie sighs heavily, not again…
So, it’s 2016 now, and here I am. Driving down the Expressway in Sunnyvale, CA on my way to work, 45 minutes into my commute jammin’ with the radio, I’m suddenly struck by the oddly obvious similarity “Misunderstanding” has with “Fool in the Rain”… Stunned, I text my brother, and my sister at the red light the news alert: "Morning commute revelation… Genesis song “misunderstanding” is a complete ripoff of Led Zeppelin “fool in the rain”
“Huh- really… I’ll have to go check that out” from my brother
“Apparently sussudio is a ripoff from Prince” from my sister
They were not helpful in corroborating the Misunderstanding at all, so I googled and whabam, there’s your thread with all questions and answers. thank you thank you for bantering, one and all.
found my tribe.
Stephen: vindication? Yes.

I will keep the zombie alive. pulykamell you and I have discussed the Purdie Shuffle a few times on this board, with FitR being a wonderful example of it. I hadn’t realized folks referred to this as the Bonham Shuffle. It’s him doing Purdie, and doing a truly amazing job of it. Bonham - man he was technical when he grooved.

Edited to add: oh, and welcome to the Straight Dope, canary - yes, there are a few music geeks here…

This is one of those comparisons that when I read it, I think “oh, nonsense.” And then when I go listen to the songs, I think “holy crap!” Now I cannot unhear the similarity and I wonder how I ever missed it.

My default assumption in any situation like this would be that Led Zeppelin is the thief, but I don’t know if the timing works out for this song.

Yep, Bonham’s version of the half-time shuffle is sometimes/often called (at least in my circles) the Bonham shuffle, just like Jeff Porcaro’s spin on it in “Rosanna” is named either after him or the song title. They’re all variants of the basic half-time shuffle aka Purdie shuffle. Porcaro for instance, takes the Purdue shuffle and throws a Bo Diddley accent pattern in the kick drum. If you watch the video here, at about 40 seconds he starts showing how he took Purdie, Bonhan, and Diddley and mashed them up to get his Rosanna shuffle.

My assumption would be just coincidence. The “Fool in the Rain” progression is just a series of triads going up the major scale from I-ii-iii-IV. No big deal there, common enough. Then instead of going straight to the V to get back to the I, it goes vi-V, which seems like a normal and logical enough way to keep the line from being a completely static series of ascending chords. (I mean, listen to the piano on “Lean on Me.” It’s I-ii-iii-IV, and a little bVII-IV flourish–similar type of movement to “Fool in the Rain.”)
To me, it feels like a cross between a I-IV-vi-V progression (think the chorus of “She Drives me Crazy.”) with the scale ascending triads thrown in between the I and IV.

The Genesis song is slightly different, although similar ideas involved, in that it is in a minor key, so the progression is i-ii-III-v-IV in that case instead of I-ii-iii-IV-vi-V. Same type of movement, missing a note and with different harmonic contexts.

Harmonic analysis aside, like I said above, whenever I hear “Misunderstanding” now, I can’t help but think “Fool in the Rain.” But I think it’s very likely coincidence they share those similarities or, even if one were subconsciously influenced by the other, the musical ideas there are so basic that I wouldn’t call it a ripoff either way.

Fascinating video. I rarely watch drum instruction videos. Porcaro is obviously an amazing drummer and hearing him build the groove is fun. I would never have picked out the Bo Diddley kick drum.

But - man is he kinda flat in his delivery. Also, I woudl argue that the bit he plays to represent Bernard Purdie sells Purdie a bit short.

Look at Purdie himself:

First of all, what a charming instructor! And he builds the pieces of the groove in a clear way, so I, a non-drummer could follow. Then around 3:50 he starts to play the Purdie Shuffle and it grooves so much more…Purdie-like vs. Porcaro’s groove. Fun to hear the differences.

Yeah, Purdie’s a fun guy to watch and oozes groove and soul and personality (I’ve watched pretty much all the videos I can of his playing on Youtube.) Porcaro is more, well, he makes it swing in his own way, but it’s different. I wouldn’t call it mechanical–I think it has great groove–but it’s almost too perfect and clean. It’s exactly the kind of groove you might expect for a polished, soft rock, fusionish band of session musicians like Toto. And then you’ve got Bonham’s powerful bombastic bluesy swagger of a groove.