Monday, November 07, 2011

Copying Pop Lyrics With Pen And Paper: 50s Way

During the 50s or earlier:
FL, who comments frequently on my blog, tells of teenagers buying exercise books to copy popular lyrics. There were no computers nor lyric websites to download from. So they bought notebooks to copy their favourite songs.
Remember the trademark? It had a Light House Brand and produced by a firm called Goy Liang Book-Making Company. Remember the back cover with its set of multiplication tables? I think these notebooks still exist today. Or do they?
Usually, the enthusiastic pop song collector would listen to a particular song from the record, radio or Rediffusion and copy the lyrics onto a sheet of paper. The trick is to copy the salient words and rewrite the whole song later. Like a stenographer (what's this?), but writing in words rather than using shorthand.
Most times enthusiasts bought exercise books with hard covers to document their precious lyrics but these books cost more than the ordinary ones which cost 20 cents a copy. I managed to find two copies from my cupboard (image 1).
The more enthusiastic followers would cut images from newspapers and magazines and paste them on the pages of their treasure trove and be showing off their collection. Those with money to spare would buy glossy black and white photographs to paste.
Later years:
Songbooks were printed and sold with guitar chords. Images 2 and 3 illustrate the smaller version. You can still find them in the shops today but the thicker ones that contain 400+ songs may cost as much as S$60 each.
There are still adults today who collect pictures, photographs and newspaper cuttings of their favourite pop bands and singers? Do you have any recollection of copying songs using scraps and pencils? Sketching pictures of your favourite stars perhaps? Tell us.
Images/original articles: Andy Lim Collection.


Anonymous said...

From email:

Thanks to Youtube and to links
given by Dicko and Chun See and TC and others, I can now listen to songs from my childhood and
adolescence and/or even watch them perform by my favourite performers.

And when I listen to the song,I'll try to place them in the stage of my life when I first heard the
song, to bring back the memories of my experience at that time and place.

Count me in, Andy: this one's for you: 'Gerry n The Pacemakers with 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
James Kwok.

Andy Young* said...

Thank you again James for your immediate response and for the song. Strange, it's one of my favourites from G n The P.

I appreciate your support.

FL said...

Hi, Andy. It's true that I copied many popular songs on textbooks with a pen. I started this very young during my early teen, and my own compiled song books are still with me till today! Well, too bad, during our years we didn't have a computer like today. Yes, you said it correctly, I'd would cut out pictures of pop stars or groups and pasted on my own songbooks. The pictures were from the former "Radio Weekly" which was sold for 30 cents a copy in the early sixties. Thanks Andy for your wonderful blogs.

Andy Young* said...

Thank you FL for confirming what I posted.

I remember collecting pop lyrics into a hard-cover book too and pasting cut-outs of singers and bands during my teenage years.
The book is lost now.

Is it possible for us to meet up for coffee? I would also love to take photographs of your song book?

Please write to me again on my blog and leave me your email address so I can contact you?
I promise not to publish or divulge the information.

Again many thanks for visiting FL. I appreciate it very much.

Irene Yap said...

Facebook Connection from Irene Yap:

Thanks to Andy Lim, who managed to track my old record label 'White Cloud Records'.

I am so happy to reconnect with Mr Heng Ser Piah who discovered me when I was 11. Juz had a long chat with him on the ph.

It was so nice to talk to him n hear his voice after all these yrs. :)))

Andy Young* said...

From Facebook Connection:

1. You are welcome Irene. What I try to do with my blog is positive, re-connect music people from the 50s, 60s and 70s and make younger Singaporeans realise we had many golden years of pop music by our own local artistes.

2. Do help to spread the sincere message of my blog. I am glad you got your connection.

You must also thank Randy Lee, former rhythm guitarist of The Stylers for getting you the connection.

He has been a great help by connecting my readers to singers and musicians of the past.

Irene Yap said...

From Facebook:

Yes, thank you again for getting Randy to contact me. I hv sent him a personal email to thank him.:))

Anonymous said...

From Facebook:

wow wow wow... superstar...!!

Rob Collins.

peter said...

How about the Chinese song books or song-sheet found in Chinese fashion/movie magazines? The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 above the Chinese character.

Andy Young* said...

Yes Peter,
They were certainly popular those days and easy to follow too with the do-re-mi and number equivalent.

I think they still sell them in the shops don't they? Thanks for the memories.

Lam Chun See said...

I do not remember copying songs into exercise books, but I certainly remember buying song books with guitar chords. But I shd clarify that I was not very a serious into this hobby.

Andy Young* said...

Thanks Chun See for your comment.

It's true actually. Many of us were not too serious about it as it was only a hobby for us.

Those who got really deep into it must have become musicians then...

Lam Chun See said...

Some of us not so musically inclined. without proper guidance; can't get far. For example, my children all rec'd piano lessons, but only 1 went all the way to grade 7.

Andy Young* said...

Wow, that's something. Maybe you could play us pieces then Chun See. So glad you read and play.

Why didn't you complete your LRSM?
You must be an expert with classical music.

Lam Chun See said...

Ah ... Andy. You misunderstood me. What I meant was people like me, not musically inclined. Without proper guidance never got anywhere with the guitar and gave up soon.

Piano; even worse. Never got to touch one until adult. But my children of course more fortunate. Had piano at home and given music lessons. But yet they progressed differently.

Eh ... what is LRSM?

Andy Young* said...

My apologies Chun See. I mistook the number one (1) for the letter "I", so I thought your sentence read: "I went all the way to grade 7, when it should have meant, "one went all..."

*Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music (LRSM) which is Grade 8. You can teach afterwards.