For some reason, none of my friends seem to publish their lyrics on Bandcamp. I’ve always done this, since I started releasing music there in (gulp) 2010. Bandcamp offers arguments in favor: people will google your lyrics, they suggest, and you want those googlers to end up here, where they can buy your album, and where the lyrics will be correct: “If you haven’t added lyrics on Bandcamp, those fans are likely ending up on lyriczzzbay.com instead, who’s showing them ads for Applebee’s.”
Ben has the best counter-argument. They’re lyrics, he has told me, not poetry. They’re meant to be heard, not read. I suppose there is valuable mystery in this. The words are supposed to be music, and like music maybe they should fly past you and disappear. Maybe if you sing a word ambiguously and people can’t understand it, maybe that’s part of the experience; mondegreens are a tradition unto themselves.
Me, I just can’t resist carefully telling everyone how I like my lyrics punctuated, where the line breaks are. I like precise capitalization—it’s one of my preferred methods of resisting the current presidential administration. I like revealing the spelling of fictional place and character-names. I like specifying that I’m using “O” rather than “Oh,” in the sense of Shakespearean ecphonesis. I like supplying quotation marks where a quotation is taking place. Looking back, I see that the only exceptions are Crazy Cloud in Dream World (probably because I didn’t write all of the lyrics), Captivity Songs (probably because I was depressed), and the song “Red (for Sam Amidon)” from On Blue Trails (probably because I was quoting, and because I wanted it to be mysterious).
I think I’ll keep doing it. If nothing else, it’s nice to have them all archived in one place. Did you know that Bob Dylan’s official website has a complete listing of all the songs he’s released, with lyrics, discography, the first time he played it live, the most recent time he’s played it live, and the total number of times he’s played it live?
• Gone Walkabout
• Music as Drama
• Crossroads II
• 10 Best of 2014
• January: Wyoming and the Open
• February: New Mexico and the Holes
• Coming Up
• Notes on The Accounts
• Crossroad Blues