How to Contribute

This website is hosted for free by GitHub. The site is not fully developed and a lot of the lyrics are not even up yet, but I hope to change that soon. Because the site is hosted on GitHub, that means that the source code and all of the lyrics files are open source, i.e., available for free and without much restriction. The "repository" for the site can be found here. Also due to the fact that the site is hosted on GitHub, anybody who wants to contribute -- whether it's by adding lyrics or changing some aspect of the site or fixing errors -- can do so by submitting requests to me, the author of the page, for approval. It is true that using the version control system called "git" (which is where GitHub gets its name) can be difficult for the unintiated. However, I plan to put together a very comprehensive guide to submitting requests for adding to/changing the website. I want the website to be a collaborative process. Any changes will result in authorship credit. Stay tuned for the guide!

What is this site?

This project is an offshoot of a project I did in my final year in college. The basic idea of was to conduct writing "experiments" on the lyrics of Bob Dylan. For example, one simple experiment I did was collecting all of the questions in Dylan's lyrics and forming them into one piece. But, the collecting of the questions led to many issues:

  • In what order would I put the questions?
  • How would I even decide what was and was not a question? (Keep in mind, there are no question marks in the songs themselves!)
  • How would I conduct experiments with faulty, unpunctuated, and inaccurate lyrics?

As a result, I decided that I would have to take it upon myself to transcribe the lyrics since I could find no authoritative versions of the songs (even the "official" Bob Dylan lyrics book is woefully inadequate). But this idea of an authoritative version of a given song led to an interesting question: how could one indeed create an accurate transcription of any given song, given that songs are dynamic, different from performance to performance? There are no "official" lyrics for a song, there only exist "official" lyrics for a specific performance of a song. So, I decided to transcribe not merely all of the songs, but all of the different versions too. If you're a Bob Dylan fan, then you know that one of the things that makes Dylan's art distinctive is his ability to adapt, change, add to, subtract from, and rearrange his lyrics, as well as the way in which the words are uttered and the musical accompaniment. Dylan is known for experimenting with his songs and, whether these experiments work or not, it's fascinating to study them and try to understand them.

So, the aim of this website is to provide the lyrics of all of the official versions of Bob Dylan's songs as I've transcribed them (by official, I mean, officially released, either on album or video). I have not transcribed every single song - this is an ongoing process, but I will continue to transcribe songs as my schedule allows and I will be posting them to this website. Any help would be greatly appreciated. That includes transcriptions of not-yet-included songs as well as edits of existing content. I will put together a comprehensive guide to submitting a request to add to/edit the site so that anybody can contribute. Please email me if you have any comments or suggestions. I'd love to hear from you!

About the Author

My name is Matt Mulholland and I work at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ as a research engineer in the natural language processing/speech group. Please check out my personal page as well as my GitHub page to learn about other projects I have been working on.