"Let It Be" Songbooks of the 80s & The Lyrics of Lost Times

I had a conversation the other week (with fellow geekaloid Si Ling at rehab), about the lack of "lyrics-appreciation" (or sumach banality) in songs and the scene these days.

I remember in the mid-to-late-80s, where there existed song lyrics collected and printed in entire telephone-book thick tomes of books. Sing titles ranged around song-titles from then-pop titles to old school classics like the Beatles' "Let It Be" - which I suspected were for guitarists or musicians, who needed to refer to song-lyrics in their performances, or practices (Milli Vanilli might have missed out on this book). And we gathered groups to sing from it!

Like a practicing "band", we would sing along to the lyrics in the book - and while we were hardly what-you-would-call a true-blue bebop or harmony-band (aka we suck lol), it felt as if we were truly part of a band, like the ones we listened to on the radio and on cassettes! Mind you, this was a decade or so before "boy-bands" entered the music-vocabulary, and singing together was more Duran Duran or Depeche Mode (which meant a single singer anyways bwahahahaha)

The existence of song lyrics was very prevalent in culture, with differing books printed and even the weekend newspaper (the earlier incarnation of "New Paper") printed lyrics of a song or a few, per weekend read! And yes, I was one of the folks that cut and kept them in a scrapbook (hence being able to write a full-article about this in a post LOL).

As well, cassette tapes were prolific and within their inner folded sleeves were printed lyrics as well (and even before that, long-playing / vinyl LP records too). Bare in mind, all this were before the eventual advent of karaokes (which the action of lyrics-reader pathing the way to eventual acceptance of karaoke), when it's concept gobbled up a whole chunk of a generation, and never did spit them out properly. I was one of those that still dwelled in the 90s glamor of post-band-dreams.

Not too later, compact discs took over the audio shop, but it was cool, as their bigger fold-out inner sleeves could contain lyrics with (slightly) larger fonts! Alas by then, karaoke was a taboo recreation meant only for the aimless masses, and the lyric-books I mentioned earlier? Became as useless as a yellowbox phonebook.

By the time mpegs and virtual downloads griped the globe, the concept of "lyrics" has but morphed into a totally different manifestation. You can google any non-obscure song on the net and find song-lyrics (along with ringtone downloads). Folks sang under their breaths listening to their own iPods and earphones became the wall to stop folks from singing their songs out loud. Hell, with the obvious advent of dance music these days, the lyrics don't mean much beyond catchy catch-phrases to be uttered repeatedly and electronically-altered.

But can you find lyrics printed out, with your downloads? Some might ask; "Is there a need to?" Want to sing a song with lyrics? Go visit a local karaoke with your mates, or search on youtube for videos with karaoke-lyrics (remember the time KJ / Karaoke-Jockeys spinned LDs / Laser-Discs with built-in fade-in fancy lyrics?).

And while I dare claim I can mouth a whole bunch of songs from the 80s (not so much the 90s hahaha), the early-2000s were a lost cause with technoelectro.

Of course I am referring to the straightup pop-songs of the mainstream. Other pockets of lyric-fueled songs (ironically now deemed "folk") existed still, and thrived on their own. Am sure rap made their own impact, but this is not about that. Lyrical-singing seems a fade memory from the past these days, likened ti be unearthed for novelty purposes like blog-posts like this.

But perhaps the era of lyrics and sing-along is indeed a concept of the past, and we no longer partake of the song, as it has out lives. Now, we bop our heads, chat along and groove our booties to tunes that all sound the same, or ironically, a remix of olden songs - together with the lyrics in tow.

It's no wonder that a cheese-filled show like GLEE held so much allure for me - as it showed folks singing along to songs from my era (sans show-tunes and Lady GaGa-highjinks) and they are not portrayed as natural born performers (think "Fame") and they are as fictional, as the rehash of reality-shows which sucked the attention span of many a viewers in the early part of the decade.

I was suggesting a Glee-marathon, with singalongs to specific songs in the show - lyric-sheet in hand -with the folks in the marathon, to a distinct grimace of abject horror and immediate apprehension (a home-spun parallel to Rock Horror picture Show, but without the glamor and costumes lol). And I am not offended in the least bit, but for the sheer sadness than such a sense of group-play is indeed taboo for the current crowd, regardless their ages.

I was contemplating comparing an older song's words to a current top ten song's, but realize it would be a moot point, as different eras feed different agendas and requirements, and this current generation's, does not fit mine.



Mandy said…
Hi! I just wanted to say that I really like your blog. I am following now. I hope to read more soon!
toysrevil said…
aw much thanks Mandy! you're the first one in so many years! lol :)