Decoding in the modern age
In my fantasy brain, which has become incredibly active during the last year, nothing exciting happens. The pinnacle of my fantasy life is the Before Times, when we could go to clubs and be better than drunkenly asking other drunk people what song is playing, when we could travel whenever we could afford to, or even in the before Before Times when we could go and sample other music on physical media (you’re coming with me, run with it.)
But we’re not in the Before Times anymore. We’re probably not in the After Times either, we just hang here in suspended animation waiting for time to restart and make sense again.
I’m not trying to be bleak, I promise.
The point is: these days are times of recollection. It’s easy to go back to old mixtapes and CD collections and remember all the music that we forgot we even listened to, like, a lot. Music streaming and the incredible record that it keeps of your personal history is pretty recent, after all. I can tell you what I kept on loop with an incredible level of detail five years ago, but at age 16? God, I wouldn’t remember if I didn’t have CDs.
But what of the disjointed poetry in your Twitter feed (or the very retro handwritten journals, even if the 80s is over and done)? Some may be your own, a coded, misunderstood teenager message to your future better-adjusted self, but some are probably song lyrics. You know how to tell the difference? The song lyrics are probably better. Doesn’t matter though if past-you had a fondness for writing things that makes present-you try to figure out, exactly, what it is you meant.
An online search doesn’t always help, especially if the lyrics are weirdly short or seemingly common phrases anyway: “Please don’t take me home,” or “You’re my girl and you don’t even know it,” or “But now I’m hungover.”
Try it. What songs are these lines from? I guarantee the track you find won’t be the right one.
(A moment of silence for the strange teenage choices in lyrics to identify with, this was before my brain fully developed.)
Find songs even by partial lyrics
This is not a test: Deezer just came out with a lyrics search function that can give you a good idea of what song you were probably referencing, the way it helped me, or that weird tail end of a verse you caught as the taxi sped by the club. It needs a minimum of four words to work, and as with most searches, will give you better results the more words you actually write down. The beauty of it is that you can play the track immediately as the search results come in so you can test it rather than constantly switch between windows or apps to figure out which of your search results was the song in question.
This is a gift that will keep giving, of course. The After Times are approaching; I feel it in my bones. There will always be a time to wonder what song was in your head when you couldn’t even cobble together a full line. There will always be a moment to wonder whether the oddly poetic text you received was a song but couldn’t verify through normal search. There will always be embarrassing past-you material to excavate and try to make sense of, only to realize it was probably a song you forgot about.
You can try to search with lyrics when you log into deezer.com
A game: some parts of this are song lyrics. Try to find what songs they belong to.