Derrick May recorded Strings Of Life at 90bpm – or did he?

The story of exactly how Derrick May produced his 1987 song “Strings Of Life” is something which has changed over time. Indeed, the story has now been altered so many times that even May himself is struggling to recall which version he previously divulged.

Back on Tuesday, Ears To The House shared an exchange on Facebook which Derrick May briefly contributed to. May was asked by a seemingly innocent bystander how he made the song – to which he responded by sharing a video from a documentary. He points out he sampled the chord progression from a longer work by his then friend Michael James.

This doesn’t tally up with a comment that May left on a video on Music Production Tutorials – a YouTube channel ran by Danny J Lewis. In June 2013, Lewis attempted to work out the chords in the song’s piano riff – which led to Derrick May himself commenting “Haha, nice try” and that “I recorded it at 90bpm”.

There was just one problem with this – he didn’t. As Michael James was more than happy to point out in the same comments section…

Derrick May has had many years – at least nine and almost certainly more – to prove he can play the “Strings Of Life” chord progression. It’s now the summer of 2022 – some 35 years after the song was created – and he still hasn’t done so. Make of that what you will…

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