Common Complaints


...hey! the chords don't line up where they should!

Check your browser settings to see what fonts you have set as default.

As part of the upgrade, I converted every single set of lyrics & chords from Comic Sans MS to Monaco, which is a fixed-width font. "Fixed-width" means that every letter and spaced has the same width. (By contrast, "Variable-width" means that the various letters and spaces are different widths. Take a song, drop it into a word processor and change the font from Monaco to, say, Comic Sans MS or Times New Roman and you will see how the chord spacing changes. I also took out all tabs on the cords and replaced them with spaces so the chords line up correctly.

Here are the fonts used on the pages:
Sand (variable-width) - for the titles and sub-titles
Comic Sans MS (variable-width) - for the comments
Monaco (fixed-width) - for the lyrics and chords
Courier (fixed-width) - for the tabs and chord information

...hey! [x] offends me!

Quick essay: From the beginning, I have broken this songbook into sections specifically to provide sections that are "kid-safe" for teachers, camp counselors and those who could be easily offended about lyrics. At first, it was easy. I just had sections for "Campfire" and "Big Kid" songs.

"Big Kid" songs are more adult in nature. They are either modern popular songs or the original versions of songs that have since been bowdlerized or they are songs that were always intended for a more mature audience. Why "Big Kids" and not "Adult" or "Grownup"? Well, "Adult" has its own connotations in today's society and, frankly, I don't believe that there is such a thing as a "Grownup". But, that is a rant for another day and another forum, so "Big Kids" it remains.

Also, I broke up the "Big Kids" sections years ago, moving stuff by Indie Artists and Metal, Hard Rock & Prog Rock Artists into their own sections. Then, I moved Blues & Standards into their own section. Finally, I culled out songs with Political, Social & Protest content into their own section. Why go through this considerable hassle? Well, partly because the "Big Kids" sections were groaning under their own weight. And partly because as the audience for this songbook grew and changed, I knew that some would find the lyrics to tunes in those new sections offensive. So, the work of this section break up was worth it.

And, now the songbook has grown. Here's a general "safe section" primer:
"Campfire [ballads or singalongs]", "Classic Kids, "Circle Games", "Call & Response", "Circle Games", "Gospel Tunes", "Lullabyes & Graces", "Part Songs & Rounds" and "Patriotic". The other sections are a crap shoot if you are easily offended. Yes, even the "U.S. Folk" and "Old Chestnuts" and "Blues & Standards" sections. I like finding the history of a song and the original version, if possible, and that version often is not like the bowdlerized version that you might know and love. So, caveat cantor ("singer beware").

Or you can download the Traditional Songbook (as in traditional, roots & children's songs) in .sit & .zip formats. This, too, has been split accordingly since the start of these pages to provide songs teachers can use without getting sandbagged by a nasty, inappropriate surprise.

As the songbook has grown, so has its audience. For everything that offends one, another is empowered or inspired by it. A good metaphor is Eve Ensler's famous play (look it up, kids!). The very title is highly offensive to some, the whole play is enabling and empowering to others to throw off a lifetime of crippling shame. But, this goes both ways, boys & girls. Some of the gospel tunes are beloved comfort tunes, sacred to some. To others, they are highly offensive and divisive in nature.

I am a big believer in learning from one another, if you wish to. Being queer and a practicing Pagan (Yup! It is a real religion! Sometimes identified by the name "Wiccan", which is one of Paganism's subset denominations), people say stuff all the time that is intended (or unintended) to be offensive one or both of those counts. I have never really understood the need of some people to put someone else down to feel better about themselves. Usually, it is fear - something else is "different" and that makes 'em uncomfortable. But, those who get to know me know that I am as far from either of the ugly -- and incorrect, I might add -- stereotypes as possible.

I disclose all this because I have moved a song per request. Because the correspondent was right in this respect: the original song is sacred in nature to a particular religion and was a "comfort food" type of song for her. One of the variations is not sacred in nature to the religion of its origin. So, I have moved it to another section that is more appropriate to its satiric nature.

But, here is what I asked of this correspondent: that she pay it forward by being considerate & respectful to someone whose religion differs from hers. That is one way we can all move forward. Enough with the past decade of divisiveness.

Okay. 'Nuf Ced. Essay done.

...hey! you got the chords wrong!

There are as many variations of some songs as there are singers. Just see "The Cat Came Back" or "Catfish Blues" just below it. Some evolve over the decades as fashions change, others are just plain new versions (i.e. Marvin Gaye's tremendous cover of "The Star-Spangled Banner"). If you have a great variant on a song. Please just send it to me (via "dink[at]media[dot]mit[dot]edu") so I can add it!

...hey! you got the title wrong!

Same as with the chords. Variations abound in oral tradition. Just look at Counting Song. Don't recognize the title? How about as "The Spanish Lady" or "Wheel Of Fortune" or "Dublin City". Better yet, be sure you know what the title is. For example, The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" is not now, nor has it ever been "Teenage Wasteland", even if those are the words of the song that are most memorable.

Other examples are: Peter, Paul & Mary's "One Kind Favor" is actually Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and Leadbelly's "In The Pines" became Nirvana's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" Got an alternate title or better history of the song for me? Send it in!

...hey! you got the words wrong!

Sensing a theme, here? Singing is, by nature, an oral tradition and things change with the singer, the times and the use of the song. Sea shanties and hobo songs for manly men become bowdlerized children's songs. Traditional and classical songs get appropriated for new popular hits. Again, let me know any legit variations and I'll post 'em if I can.

Thanks, y'all!

Back to the Songbook Index.

This page's content is copyrighted ©1977-2008 by Kristin C. Hall. Please drop me a line (via "dink (at) media (dot) mit (dot) edu") if you wish to use it or link to it or correct it! Please send comments, suggestions, fixes and general mischievious mayhem to the web diva via the above email address. (sorry, spambots have forced me to remove my automatic mail link.) Many thanks...and enjoy!

Note to lawyers and any other litigious-minded folk:
I am not trying to screw anyone out of royalties, etc. I have posted these only as a helpful resources for teachers, camp counselors and people who like to "sing along with Mitch", if you will. If you do not want your work posted to these pages, please just email me (via "dink (at) media (dot) mit (dot) edu") and I shall remove it.