Article from "Sunday Times" Newspaper - Sri Lanka

Mirror Magazine


A journey back to the past

By Marisa de Silva

see Peggy's name

Say you want to com- pile a little booklet of your favourite oldies, sing along with the radio or just have an evening singsong with some friends? Now your frantic search for lyrics can come to an end at www.commsoft.lk/doyouknowlyrics.html launched by Carlo Fernando. Fernando has up to date invited over 15 other web partners around the world to join forces with him to make this website one of the most comprehensive sites for oldies lyrics on the net.
Carlo originally started the song index www.commsoft.lk/oldsongs.html towards the end of 1998, which listed all the old songs he had. He had painstakingly typed in the lyrics over several years. Gradually, the web page got indexed in some major search engines and the number of visitors increased. They e-mailed him and requested lyrics of songs that were listed in the index.
Come '99, a visitor requested a song that was not listed in the index and was desperate to find the lyrics. This was the beginning of the Do You Know Lyrics? page.
"I was thinking hard to find a way to help this visitor, when it occurred to me that I could start a new page for this kind of requests (if any), and invite those who knew the requested lyrics, to e-mail me the lyrics," he said. The response had been unprecedented and it started growing rapidly, so much so, that the page became too big and took a long time to download.
In the meantime, Carlo noticed that there were a few visitors who sent in lyrics regularly, and in 2001, he invited them to become Virtual Web Partners of the web site. In May 2001, Katy Malcolm of New Zealand joined up as the first Web Partner. Web partners of the site come from all parts of the world, including USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. They share their thoughts on the site with us.
"I enjoy our site tremendously," said one. Not only did a web partner help him get the lyrics to a song he was looking for, but he has also enjoyed getting to know some of the other web partners. It's interesting seeing the kind of esoteric things people are looking for and he enjoys the challenge of trying to find them. That we are truly an international group reflects the international language of music, he says.
Cafene Kohler, another partner says that many of the old songs that his father sang were just snatches of tunes, a single line or two. In looking for the words to these old songs sometimes he would search for hours without success, simply because he couldn't remember the key words of the song. "This site is a blessing because it allows us to connect with old people who can still remember the songs that our parents sang to us as children," he says.
Most of the visitors who benefit from this web site are those who love to sing oldies their parents and grandparents have sung to them when they were small, but cannot remember all the words. If you go through the website you will see how they send requests giving the little they remember. "Please find the lyrics to a song that goes... Two little playmates, a boy and a girl, were playing one day on the sand, they built them a house of pretty sea shells no tools but their little, white hands... I don't know the rest. My Mama, who died a number of years ago, used to sing this to me," was one of the requests made for a song.
Most cannot remember the title, singer or composer etc., but the web partners make a valiant attempt to find these lyrics and keep their visitors happy. If they don't know the words, they look it up in songbooks or the web itself and send the lyrics.
Katy Malcolm, also a partner had found Carlo's site whilst searching for some hard-to-find lyrics a few years back and managed to find some that others were requesting. Eventually Carlo started e-mailing requests directly to her and they have enjoyed a friendship that continues today. "I believe that this site fills a need, as the majority of sites consist of current music lyrics rather than specialising in oldies. "While a few of my fellow web partners are musicians, I myself am not. We share a common love of music and that's what has bought us together. Great company to be in!" she says emphatically.
Carlo has also started sending out a monthly newsletter to the partners. Now on his tenth letter, it mainly contains contributions from the web partners themselves. Usually, it introduces new partners and lists special events or features, web partner's personalised writing, a chuckle for today and cute pictures.
Yet another reason why Peggy Barry, a partner enjoys working for this site is for the satisfaction in finding a song that holds a special and tender meaning for someone, she says. "Therefore by finding specific lyrics for someone, we've helped someone, somewhere in the world, find a special kind of happiness," she adds.
"I have also very much enjoyed hearing about the other web partners through Carlo's newsletter. Some of us have shared pictures, stories and jokes, which puts a 'face' to the otherwise faceless partners! So, all in all, being a web partner has been very fulfilling and I am so very grateful to be part of this group," she says.
"I enjoy sharing my knowledge of old music with newcomers to the web and I also like to get the words to songs I can't quite remember," says Alfred French, a partner.
Carlo has also started a chat room (http://groups.msn.com/GoldenOldiesWebPartners), exclusively for the use of the web partners and others recommended by the partners. Any others who want access to this room have to first get his approval. Carlo wants to ensure that it is not just another chat room, but a clean and decent one where people generally over 50 can enter without the fear of encountering offensive material, he says.
As for bringing the world closer and uniting continents to work towards one common goal, this website could be seen as quite the success story. So the next time you want the lyrics to one of your old favourites, visit this site! For more details contact Carlo at commsoft@slt.lk