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Since the topic is particularly pertinent for me at the moment, I thought I'd write a post on the importance of preserving valuable data—in this case rare lyrics.

Back in 2005, a band I really liked released their second album. The band was called Last Rites (some of you may know the brothers Wright from their more prominent past in Fields of the Nephilim.) Crucial to the story is that their experience with labels had not been great, and the bloom of digital communication made them see the opportunity for internet-based self-distribution.

So far, so good. They produced the album themselves, launched a website with a store and got to hawking the fruit of their labours. I don't know how many albums they sold—I suspect they did not reach the wider audience they deserved, or I would have heard more mention of them. A shame no doubt, but at least I managed to get myself a copy.

Here's the crux: the physical album—while pretty and well made—did not come with lyrics in the liner notes. There were, however, lyrics available on the website (or so I seem to remember. I may be wrong though, which would make this a moot example, but the point stands.)

You can probably see where this is going. Some time around three or four years ago, someone (probably one or several of the members) erased the band's entire deliberate presence on the internet. No site. No MySpace. No Facebook. No e-mail. All lines of communication dropped.

No lyrics.

It took me about an hour to copy the lyrics from the liner notes of Last Rites' first album, "Guided by Light". I have spent quite a few hours transcribing the lyrics for "The Many Forms" and I still have work to do in figuring out the more indistinct words and phrases. The mix is heavy and complex, making it laborious and repetitive work. More than once, I have shed my headphones with a strained grimace clinging to my face, my eardrums feeling paper-thin. Still I work at it, because even though the result will inevitably be flawed and inaccurate, it's better than nothing. Also, I really want to be able to sing along properly to one of my favourite albums of all time.

I really, really wish I—or someone else—had copied those lyrics down when they were available from the original source.

I really, really do.

Lesson learned—I'm sharing my transcript.

Thanks for reading—and for being part of the efforts to preserve lyrics openly and freely (and minimize the strain on our collective hearing apparatus.) Be seeing you in the page history entries!

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