Soundless Songs?

I have to say that I’ve been surprised but delighted to find that this website consistently gets hundreds of hits each month, often as many as a thousand. So I guess I’ve done something of interest to a large number of people! Yay me!

But I’m intrigued that a site about music gets as many hits as this one does despite the fact that it is all but silent. Although I have provided links to recordings of songs whenever possible — often links to youtube but sometimes to band pages or other sites — I have avoided uploading recordings to the site. This has largely to do with copyright law. Commercial recordings can have upwards of four copyright holders: the lyrics, the music, the arrangement, and the recording (not to mention the album art). Copyright in Canada remains in place for 50 years after the death of the copyright holder. Although a number of the songs in this collection are in the “public domain” (not copyrighted) because they have been around for so long — including their lyrics and melodies — specific arrangements and recordings of them are still copyrighted. And so rather than get in trouble, I avoid the whole problem by choosing not to upload sound files.

(Yes, I am technically breaking copyright law by providing song lyrics, but there are many song lyrics sites online. It seems that artists and record labels are generally unconcerned about song lyrics being freely available, probably because songs just aren’t songs without the music. If anyone asks me to remove a particular set of lyrics, I will.)

But the question I then have is: what is the value of disaster songs without music to the thousands of visitors who visit this site every year? I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Are the lyrics of primary interest to you, more like poems than songs? Is it important that you know that these lyrics are set to music, even if you do not know what that music sounds like? Do you use this site to identify recordings that you then listen to and/or purchase? Or perhaps there is another way that you use the site and think about the lyrics?

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