Music Articles

Liberated Lyrics, Yours For The Taking

The remix has taken on nearly every imaginable form, and its evolution has led to popularity in most genres, as bits of songs are peeled into separate identities like string cheese flung to the masses for whatever use they choose. (Has anyone ever counted up how many iterations have resulted from Phoenix's free-for-all dissections of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix?)

Karl Blau. i
Karl Blau/Courtesy of K Records
Karl Blau.
Karl Blau/Courtesy of K Records

Now, Karl Blau is offering his lyrics to anyone interested. The Anacortes, Wash.-based wordsmith and music maker has posted 30 sets of lyrics — all of various lengths, made up with different case and font usage on his website. He calls the giveaway "My Words Are Yours," and last week marks the project's first anniversary. His instructions are easy enough:

Dear Person,

Please enjoy these words and think of them as building blocks for your own songs or even finished homes where you may go inside and make a fire (don't forget to send me the recording if it gets that warm there).

Writing glimpses of witnessing the world and in a swirl of a butterfly net words forming instances and environments are swooped up and arranged (thanks Denise! you gave me this imagery) gives me pleasure, it's a way I've found to be present and comfortably tangent. I wrote these words — sometimes right into the keyboard from my brain; and they are free and happy to be morphed/mixed — mangled even.

Thinking of lyric writing always as work in progress or practice allows my brain, chemically, to match rhizomes of other lyric fragments and they will at times chain up to create a living, breathing song. Is there a match here for something you're thinking about? Go with it! Also feel free to mine phrases, passages, or entire songs that I've previously written, they are there for you.

vibrationally yours,

Karl Blau

No mention of credit. No mention of forwarding along compensation. Nothing. No real demands at all.

The lo-fi artist launched a similar movement — but with more complete, concrete, stanza-based lyrics — at his label's former site, This time, at the new digital locale, he says his words are more "free-floating and ready for a new life."

Blau says he just wants to help catalyze creativity.

"I'm doing this as a way to offset all the B.S. involving people laying claims to silly things like melody and words," Blau says. "Life is way too short, people. My attitude is: Let's share what we have and see what happens. ... [The project's] object is to help spark new words for the practicing songwriter, or at least have some melody blown into them so they may float up out of the website."

Musicians have taken him up on his offer. Blau says that at least a dozen different artists have sent MP3s to his inbox. Among them is Vancouver musician Adrian Teacher. Teacher cranked out a 15-track full-length sprung from Blau's work called (you ready?) My Words Are Yours. And, from Blau's first run at posting lyrics, Laura Veirs caught inspiration for "Shadow Blues," a song later found on Carbon Glacier.

"The humpback whales that learn new calls don't have to pay royalties on them," Blau says. "I'm an advocate for getting rid of the attitude that anyone has any original ideas. I say this, but I'm definitely mining for something unique with music and lyrics."

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"Shadow Blues" by Laura Veirs

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"Blue As My Name" by Adrian Teacher

What if more artists were open to contributing basic bits and pieces of work into the void of the web for all to use? A drum fill, maybe, or even just the beginning of a narrative to finish. Think of the infinite volumes of results and previously unfathomable partnerships. It's an idea destined to make the arts world that much smaller.



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