There is music or tinnitus in my head, sprightly, rich and fluting – the Flame Trees of Thika.
Other songs in my head (changing every so often) are: Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (female singer); Nothing Lasts Forever (by Roxy Music); Sitting Down Music and Jesus Save Me (both by Gallagher and Lyle).
At the moment Raindrops and the Flame Trees of Thika are both uppermost. I can hardly hear myself think.
(Pause for 20 minutes of web-searching…)
I like to know what the lyrics are. Other folk grow up knowing the more common ones and will roar them out in pubs, coaches or at parties – at least you hear of them doing so. And I haven’t grown up knowing what they were. “Everybody knows the lyrics of ‘Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!’” someone chortles, and I realize that I don’t and never did, though I’ve known it every bit as long as other people, if not longer.
If I loved a song, I wanted to know what it was about. Sometimes I asked a friend, who would put on a vinyl record or tape cassette and crouch down with pen and paper, scribbling wildly. Every so often he/she would sit up sharply and stop the tape and rewind, or put the record back. Then I would get my lyrics, with the occasional gap… “sorry, I couldn’t make that bit out.”
I have a mixed collection of lyrics in the handwriting of various different friends, including boyfriends (mine and other girls’!) A few verses scrawled down by my mother, and possibly one by my grandfather, who gave me Flower of Scotland. He hardly needed to listen to the record, he already knew it so well. There were also cuttings from Smash Hits, which I subscribed to for a while.
I didn’t beg people for lyrics too often though, as you don’t want them to get fed up with you asking. Once a frazzled older family member told me I was wasting my time and it wasn’t important what the lyrics were – there were better things to be getting on with.
My best friend at university took to this project like a duck to water – she started writing out the lyrics for songs she knew I liked, and copied them into an attractive notebook with a ‘tears of a clown’ cover. Not that I liked clowns, especially teary ones. But it was a nice thought. She wanted them to come all together in a nice neat presentation. She showed it to me a few times when I particularly wanted to know about a particular song, and then said she had to have it back so she could add the other songs as they came along… and I let it go a little reluctantly, as I wanted to know the lyrics now, not later. But I never got it – she went home with it in her suitcase. Well, best-laid plans…
Then the internet came along, with song lyrics provided by some very helpful people. I’ve been a pig in clover ever since – just about anything I wondered about, I could look it up. I’ve almost forgotten what it was to wonder without knowing how to find it. It could be that the golden days are nearly over, though. Increasingly, I’ve been finding blank web pages with the shrivelling words: “the artist has decided not to disclose the lyrics for this song.”
What’s that all about? Am I wrong to want to know?
Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):
1. Jo (kitschkitten) wrote at Apr 18, 2007 at 11:02: I am a lyrics freak too. And gods bless the internets for the abundance they bestow upon us. Especially when I use the iPod oracle – I need to know that they are all about.Yeah – the blank web pages – what *is* that all about? Why on earth would an artist object to sharing their lyrics?
2. Pacian wrote at Apr 18, 2007 at 15:40: I don’t put much stock in lyrics sites. I once tried to look for the lyrics for a song I could never work out the words to, and found out that not only did I know the words better than any of the lyrics sites, but they all had exactly the same mistake (complete with question marks next to it).This may be why some lyrics sites attract legal attention. The format allows shady characters to just copy and paste a load of text into a website to give it ‘real content’ when in fact it is doing something else, like pushing up another site’s Google Rank or trying to force spyware on your (hopefully too smart to fall for it) browser.
3. Diddums wrote at Apr 18, 2007 at 18:24: I noticed that – lyrics sites having the same mistake. I tend to ‘shop around’ to see what the differences are (there are some). Probably chancing the spyware, though I tend to pick and choose, trying to aim for the more solid looking sites. Question is – will the artists provide the lyrics instead, or are they just going to stop them being on the internet at all? Will I be back to that state of never knowing unless they happen to put (legible) lyrics on the CD sleeve? (I remember a couple of CDs which had the words included, but you really couldn’t read them because they were too small and too pale…)
4. Geosomin wrote at Apr 19, 2007 at 17:17: I know what you mean…and yet sometimes I wonder if it’s better to know or if they lyrics *I* hear are the more important ones. There’s occasions like my sister in law actually thinking the chorus to Peggy Sue was “Peggy Sue! Peggy Sue! Wakka wakka wakka wakka Peggy Sue!” – I think that’s hilarious and not really any worse than the real thing. I’ve had some lyrics mean a lot to me only to find out they’re slightly different and being disapointed…and some be equally confusing. There’s a Prodigy song where the lyrics “I’ve got the poison, I’ve got the remedy” were in my mind “I’ve got the poison, it’s in the lemonade”…makes little sense to me either way.Then there’s the fun of hearing a song and not quite being able to make out what’s being said, or liking the beat and rhythm of a song and not really caring what the words are because you feel the need to dance like a monkey…because some lyrics don’t make sense. Artists like Beck put together words to sound nice and flow like poetry, but they not necessarily make sense. Then there are groups like Electric Skyshurch who purposely sing syllables and sounds but not words, as they want people to feel whatever they like from their music and not let the lyrics interfere with the listening experience.
It’s a neat idea, but yet sometimes I still just need to know and look them up.
5. Diddums wrote at Apr 20, 2007 at 15:34: I’ve found that too – sometimes the lyrics are not as beautiful as they sound. But if the ‘wrong’ lyrics are already well engrained in my memory, it can be difficult to shake them out again. I can’t think of any examples right now. Sometimes I find a song makes sense but there is a line or two that never does make sense – it’s just odd. But nobody can offer anything better. Perhaps the song-writer has given up in despair. There are songs that do make me want to dance and feel happy even though the lyrics are repetitive and don’t take you anywhere – like ‘Saturday Night’ by Whigfield. Whigfield gets laughed at a lot, but she (or is it the name of a group?) is the only one I liked from that genre.