Ron the Drummer, a veteran of many pre-Internet bands, has recounted how tough it was to cover songs back in the day. If you wanted accurate lyrics, you had to buy the album. If the lyrics didn't come with the album, you had to transcribe them yourself, which meant listening over and over again until you got them right—hopefully.
I was reminded of this tonight when I attempted to look up the lyrics to "Of Thee I Sing" by Leon Russell.
I love this song. It is joyful and exuberant and catchy and always makes me want to sing along. Except I can't, because the vast majority of the words are unintelligible. So tonight, I finally got around to tracking them down. I fired up Google, entered "of thee i sing" lyrics leon russell, and found ...
Well, not exactly nothing. I did come across abridged lyrics on a message board, but I have no way of knowing whether the guy who posted got them right. Maybe he has inside knowledge. Maybe he's just guessing.
Hell, the one line I thought I could understand was "Middle of the night" at the beginning of the chorus, and according to the poster, it's "Beauty like a knife." Listening again, I still can't tell which one of us is right.
I feel oddly betrayed. I've become used to the ability to find this stuff whenever I want, and I've developed a sense of entitlement about it. Where are my lyrics? Give me my lyrics!