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Lyrics on the Bandstand

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by rockycreeker, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. studebaker hawk

    studebaker hawk Tele-Holic

    Jan 30, 2006
    Now that's some good shi... ah, stuff. We all need to post that on the wall of our rehearsal space!

    Of course the best moments on stage are when you completely forget it and... it's there!

    So if having the music stand helps you get "goner" it's OK. If not, re-evaluation is in order.
  2. rockycreeker

    rockycreeker Tele-Meister

    Mar 25, 2003
    Well - in alll my years of being on the TDPRI, most threads I started didn't last very long, so I guess I struck a nerve with some folks - but it's been very interesting getting a bunch of different opinions. It's kind of made me feel bad :oops:cause the truth is I have gotten lazy over the years as far as learning lyrics and I guess I've blamed part of it on getting older but it's probably more likely caused by practicing less. I do have a friend who is a professional bass player and works with tons of different people all the time that relies on the number system for tunes he's not familiar with, but that is a different thing than lyrics to songs that I perform with my band. Maybe my new years resolution needs to be learn lyrics instead of noodling on my guitar when I have time to practice. Thanks for all the comments.
  3. cbtd

    cbtd Tele-Meister

    Dec 23, 2009
    I like having a music stand on stage nearby, but with all the beer, picks and slides on it I wouldn't know where to put any lyrics.
  4. Telesavalis

    Telesavalis Friend of Leo's

    Apr 28, 2009
    Deep in the Heart O Texas
    I went to see George Jones last year...he had a lyric promptor in front of him. It wasn't a flat screen but a big, old school, cathode ray tube tv type monitor. I thought; how could George Jones not remember the words to his own songs? Then I realized he's written a ton of songs and he's running pretty low on memory cells. Jon Anderson of Yes was using a black Hamilton music stand with a binder full of lyrics at the last Yes concert I attended three yrs ago. Steve Winwood had a flat screen on the floor on each side of his B3.
    Even McCartney and crew have lyric monitors.
  5. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 6, 2005
    to fight blackouts i have written a couple of words behind the tunes on the setlist. that helps a bit. other that that, i try to remember the lyrics during the rehearsals. it´s good braintraining i guess.
    i really hate the look of stands in a "rock and roll"-context. loks very un-rock and roll to me....
    my two cents, ymmv a lot.
  6. tjalla

    tjalla Friend of Leo's

    Mar 25, 2003
    Perth, Western Australia
    There's the other side of music, where:

    1) You've attained success to the point where your audience knows all your lyrics - and you'd better sing them right at concert, hence tele prompters. McCartney etc could probably do without the prompts, but they are there as a failsafe. You don't want to spoil your show, and
    2) You done got old, and have forgotten more songs that most people have penned - if George Jones needs help, fair enough.

    Yea, lyrics in rock n roll, and IMO blues or any music that comes from the heart, just looks wrong. I couldn't care less if someone was singing "Barbie girl" from a lyric book.
  7. peaveycaster

    peaveycaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 5, 2010
    Georgetown TX
    I've got one of those little Raxxess clamp-on music holders. It's the small one that is barely big enough for a 3x5 index card. I have my set list on it and use it to hold the napkins with requests written on them. Occasionally, if I'm not feeling warm & fuzzy about a new song, I might have line cues (usually the first word or two of a line that's giving me trouble) but that's extremely rare. Mostly, it just holds my picks and slide.

    I played in a "wedding singer" band for a good part of a decade. We had a list of over 300 songs, including polkas and waltzes in Czech and German and lots of stuff in Spanish (in Texas, they're a staple). I still know the lyrics to every one of them. My drummer, no the other hand, has a laptop on a stand by his high hat that has cheatsheets on it, as well as some of our fill-in tracks (percussion stuff, horn parts, stuff like that). It's a crutch, but it's buried in all his drum stuff, so I don't mind it so much. Fake books center stage? Not for me!

    It can be done, but it takes practice. Thankfully, I've always had a good memory for music.
  8. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    I never understood the orchestra thing.
    Why would some of the most highly-trained musicians on earth need a sheet?
    OTOH...many of them are incapable of improvising, so they're probably just products/victims of their training and can't shake the cheat sheet.
    The soloist wouldn't use a sheet.
    I wonder what some of the proponents of music stands onstage would think if they went to a Broadway play and the players were holding scripts.
  9. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    In transit
    Is this really a mystery? They play a completely different set every week, and the pieces they play tend to range from fairly long to very long without very much repetition.
  10. Al Watsky

    Al Watsky Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 5, 2007
    New Jersey
    Lyrics are OK on General Business gigs.
    Though I worked for leaders who thought it was corny.
    It is corny.
    If you have to use them get all the tunes on to file cards and stand mount the lyrics.
    Its less noticeable that way.
    If your doing clubs, its just lame.
    The whole professional/non professional thing is just silly.
    An orchestra needs music, thats music not lyrics.
    When you see an opera are the singers reading the lyrics ?
    No they are not.
    Are the musicians using music ?
    Yes they are.
    Why ?
    Because the singers , though highly trained , are the entertainers, they are the talent.
    The musicians are technicians.
    If your job is to entertain,not read ,memorize your lyrics.
  11. dwlb

    dwlb Tele-Holic

    Aug 18, 2010
    I try not to use lyric sheets, but if I do it's generally because the song is new to the set and I'm not quite confident with it. Like others here I've sung 3-4 set nights for years and have a head full of lyrics. I tend to prefer to just put the sheet on the floor next to my set list so it's not visible to the audience, and sometimes I'll just put key phrases in large type as a reminder, rather than every single word.

    Of course, I'm playing a Bob Dylan tribute show in 3 weeks and I will probably need a substantial crib sheet for that!

    In general I don't have an issue with people using stands or prompters (if I'm paying $250 to see Paul McCartney he'd better get the words right!). The one time I did have a problem with it was with a recent bandmate who seemed more interested in spending a bunch of money for some sort of teleprompter than in simply learning the lyrics to the 10 songs he sang. But that was the tip of a complex iceberg.
  12. Del Pickup

    Del Pickup Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 24, 2008
    New Zealand
    Having a perfect memory for the lyrics of over 100 songs (for 3 different bands) isn't the easiest thing in the world to some people - myself included.

    I bought one of these 'solid' music stands which can be folded down to look like a small table. I put my various harps, slide and capo on there along with a glass of water and for the few songs which I just cannot seem to remember the lyrics to the cheat sheet goes on there too - in the set list order.

    I hate cheat sheets but there are some songs that I just do not seem to be able to remember - I only need to see the first line of a verse and I'm away but that first line can be the killer.

    I've seen a lot of big names - Tom Petty, and CSN&Y are 2 that come to mind immediately - using teleprompters. So it's not just us 'unprofessional amateurs' that need a bit of help sometimes.

    Whether it's right or wrong, is another matter.........
  13. jonzer

    jonzer Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 23, 2005
    This is an opinion since I have no way of being sure about this. When big bands, Petty, CSN&Y, U2, whoever else, uses monitors for lyrics...I don't think it's because of their memory. They've done these songs a gazillion times so they should know them. I think they use them out of laziness and lack of rehearsal. I imagine with all the promoting and media requirements on a tour that you have very little time to rehearse...so you have that monitor as a crib sheet. I doubt they read every line on it. I'm sure it's there just in case.

    I think if you're doing a gig where you're sitting down then a music stand is fine. If rocker Cobain can get away with it then you can.

    If you're doing the club or bar gig where you're standing up, then you're hurting yourself. Be confident, feel confident, look confident. That stand takes it away. It makes it look like a task and not fun to be on stage. It's in the way of the audience looking at you, and you looking at the audience.

    I have taped paper to the floor with a line or two on it (we used to play 7 Nation Army and there's just one verse I couldn't remember). I kept it next to the set list.
    I think the monitor idea is a good one. Hell, at some clubs you could put it on a table up front where you have your people sitting. Just use big red text.
  14. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Up North
    I work for a living.
    I don't have the time I had 30+ years ago to practice for hours every day...... Like I used to.

    Used a stand last night with a friend for a dinner gig.
    Nobody cared.

    He works too, we both have families, the time we get to practice together isn't what we wish it could be.
    In our defense, we don't suck. We're good at what we do.
    Both of us are 'money' players. We do our best work when thrown in to the fire of playing in front of an audience.

    We used to play together in a band. In that band, we never used music stands. But one of the differences is, that band had a completely different song list. We decided we would stretch-out, do new material and, not drag-up all our old stuff.

    Our goal is to get our duo to that level.
  15. Rhomco

    Rhomco Friend of Leo's

    Oct 8, 2004
    DFW, Texas
    All I have to say is

    The Freehand set me free. I have been using it for six years or so and it set me free to sing and play. I have always been a player but memorizing lyrics too hard for me. The freehand is backlit and no very conspicuous on stage.
    Love it,
  16. raf

    raf Tele-Afflicted

    May 8, 2007
    If you use a crutch, you will always need it...time memorizing is the way to go & you'll still blow it sometimes...shoot, that is what makes live music fun :D
  17. gatimberframer

    gatimberframer Tele-Meister

    Feb 15, 2010
    Jakedog, it sounds like you have a rare gift. Be grateful.

    Personally, if I use a lyric sheet I never learn the lyrics. It's that simple. So I made a rule to never use them. That way I learn the lyrics.

    When I'm an audience member, I will usually only notice the music stand if it's not a good show.
  18. weezy109

    weezy109 Tele-Holic

    Aug 28, 2010
    The calls of unprofessional is hillarious considering how many "real" proffessionals use them. I don't but i see the need. You know what is unproffessional? watching bands mangle songs because its "proffesional" to go without lyric sheets. I have never seen a small time band get all the lyrics right to every song...never. Funny thing is alot of you railing people on here for using lyric sheets would get an education as to the actual lyrics of the songs you sing if you actually glanced at one.
  19. plroad21

    plroad21 Tele-Meister

    Jul 1, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    Springsteen's been doing Jungleland for 40 years and still uses a teleprompter.

    i don't use cheat sheets with my own band (original music), and neither do my band members. however, if i'm doing a 3 hour "all covers" gig, you bet i have a notebook of songs with me. it's not my main gig, and i don't spend as much time as i used to learning other peoples' tunes.

    also, when i sit in on guitar or bass with my buddy's cover band, i bring cheat sheets for the songs and put them on a music stand (as low and out of the way as possible). sure, i'd rather not use them, but considering i only play with him once or twice a month at the most, it's easy to forget parts, and i figure he'd rather me use the sheets and play well, than to sound unprofessional for the sake of not having a stand on stage...
  20. Ward

    Ward Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    San Diego
    I would venture to say that lyric sheet create the possibility of unprofessionalism rather than are de facto un-professional.

    I once worked with a singer who used them and it was a disaster. Every song (1) he's looking at the lyrics and chords rather than at the audience; (2) he never really learns the songs because he relies on the charts in lieu of practice; and (3) the songs on which he really relies on the lyric chart are sung out of tune because he's focused on the chart rather than the performance. Not Professional

    On the other hand, I have a buddy who leads a band around town. Amazing singer and a gifted performer. He and his band have a gigantic repertoire and take a ton of audience requests. He keeps his book in alphabetical order on a stand next to him and will bust it out if they do a random song he hasn't done in awhile. Professional

    There's a big difference between the scenarios above, and as long as you're in the later camp I don't see a problem.

    I personally don't use one, but my band's songlist is only about 100 deep. I may have to go with the option in the preceding paragraph in a couple of years when we're playing 400 plus songs (hopefully not on the same night).
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