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Blues lyrics archive

GUEST,Alex W 06 May 15 - 06:12 AM
GUEST 06 May 15 - 12:25 PM
Joe Offer 06 May 15 - 05:53 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 15 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Alex W 08 May 15 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Alex W 08 May 15 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 08 May 15 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,Alex W 09 May 15 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 09 May 15 - 01:04 PM
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Subject: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Alex W
Date: 06 May 15 - 06:12 AM

I seem to recall that there used to be a huge archive of old blues lyrics somewhere on the net. I've been trying to google, but I can't find it. Any ideas?

I'm particularly interested for copyright reasons. I want to be able to show that some blues and similar songs that are familiar from recordings made in the mid-20th century onwards, credited to artists who are either still alive or have been dead for less than 70 years, have roots that go back further. That means that related songs performed now are free of copyright claims.


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 15 - 12:25 PM

http://www.dylan61.se/concordance_meny.html

then choose Michael Taft's Blues Lyrics, then choose Michael Taft's Blues Lyrics Web Concordance


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 15 - 05:53 PM

Boy, Alex, you're opening a can of worms there. So many of the classic blues songs came from recordings done in the 1920s and 1930s - but only those from 1923 and earlier are clearly in the public domain. Those songs ought to belong to somebody, and it shouldn't be to corporate executives with white skin. But tracking down ownership of the rights to such songs is a herculean task.

We did the best we could to get proper licenses for the songs we used in the Blues chapter of the upcoming Rise Again songbook; but in the end, I sure wasn't satisfied that the money we were paying was going to the right people.

But the alternative is to neglect all these impossible-to-license songs and buy stuff that the corporations want to sell.

In the process of doing research for the songbook, I had an interesting correspondence with Michael Taft, the former director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. You might enjoy this thread (click) about his Talkin' to Myself collection of blues lyrics.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 15 - 01:49 PM

"from 1923 and earlier" I think you mean 1922 and earlier. Which is before the likes of Sylvester Weaver, Ed Andrews, and Lemon Jefferson recorded anything.


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Alex W
Date: 08 May 15 - 09:56 AM

Thanks, guest - I found it and will work on it. Thanks also Joe for your thoughts.
My problem is that I'm living in Italy, and the "music police" (SIAE) here, the copyright collecting organization, make the "equivalents" in most other countries look like tame mice. Somebody gets out their banjo and plays a handful of songs at a birthday party in a community hall - that will be 150 Euros, please. No matter that it was a private party where nobody paid and nobody got paid. The worst of it is that, with the songs being unattributable (who wrote the Young Sailor Cut Down, or for that matter the House of the Rising Sun) the money mostly goes to the organization's pockets, and a bit of it goes to their favourites - TV cabaret singers and the like.
So essentially I'm looking to be able to say: these are part of the creative commons. We are not copying any one particular prior recording, but drawing on a broad, old, mix of ideas and traditions. Therefore we do not need to pay.
Yes, it's a can of worms.


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Alex W
Date: 08 May 15 - 11:41 AM

I should perhaps add that this is not just a "let's wriggle out of paying copyright" thing. Proportionate fees that go where they should (at least mostly) would be a good thing. It's rather that this whole country is set up to serve the bureaucratic classes - small businesses, freelance workers, innovators etc. are generally not what it's about. Composers (including very much classical composers) resent the SIAE as much as amateur guitar bashers.

I'll get off my high horse mow before I start describing the way the SIAE operates!


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 08 May 15 - 01:57 PM

If the expiration is simply 70 years after the death of the author in Italy, then (depending on what they think "publishing" a tune is in Italy) would stuff from these folks be seen as legit?

Blind Lemon Jefferson d. 1929
Barbecue Bob d. 1931
Jimmie Rodgers d. 1933
Eddie Anthony d. 1934
Blind Blake d. 1934
Charlie Patton d. 1934
Leroy Carr d. 1935
Clara Smith d. 1935
Bessie Smith d. 1937
Ma Rainey d. 1939
Blind Boy Fuller d. 1941
Peetie Wheatstraw d. 1941
etc.

Dorothy Scarborough died in 1935, so does that mean you can sing material from her 1925 book?


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Alex W
Date: 09 May 15 - 05:09 AM

It's complicated, and can be shorter in some cases, but 70 years after the death of the author is pretty safe. But the interesting aspects come in with, as you say, what publishing means, but also, and interesting to me: what does "composing" mean.

Take House of the Rising Sun as an example that pretty well everyone will have heard. The average person on the street will think it is an Animals song. (I know, I heard their arrangement on a karaoke machine just a week ago!) They got it from Bob D, who got it from Dave van Ronk (who seems to have input the jazzy descending-in-semitones base line), and he got it from... I don't know who, but its roots go a long, long way back.

So there are lots of artists who have *recordings* of HOTRS that are subject to copyright. But if someone sings a version with their own take on the words/melody/accompaniment, they would, I hope, not claim to be the composer. I submit that, as with a lot of musical genres, it simply makes no sense to say that there is or was such a person.


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Subject: RE: Blues lyrics archive
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 09 May 15 - 01:04 PM

Well, just those twelve people could give you a whole lot to work with. E.g. you could take Jimmie Rodgers blues stanzas and arrange them in a different order and perform them a la Furry Lewis (and Jimmie and Furry apparently had similar influences there).

The lyrics to "The Rising Sun Dance Hall" (which is "House Of The Rising Sun") were published by Robert Gordon in 1925 in _Adventure_ magazine, and Clarence Ashley said he learned the melody of his "Rising Sun Blues" (which is "House Of The Rising Sun") from his grandfather Enoch Ashley, who died in 1923. So stick those together?


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