When asked why R.E.M. never printed their lyrics on their liner notes, Michael Stipe explained that a song is not just the words. It’s the music. And the way the song fits between the song before it and the song after it. And the ambiance and mood of the entire album. I guess also, in the case of Stipe, the sense of mystery about the actual words is emphasised, since he sings like he’s got marbles in his mouth. So I can understand why the question would have been asked.
There’s a similar idea behind why I don’t like reading blogs via RSS feeds. The removal from the overall context means – for me anyway – some of the point is lost. If that weren’t the case, why would so many of us care about the template we use, about the colours and the overall presentation of our sites? The way the words we write fit within the overall page is part of the whole package. It matters.
Maybe that’s why I feel uneasy to find today that someone has been using my words here in lectures recently as part of a university course.