Searching For That Lost Song

Posted by | on December 11, 2008

You’re all alone, no song title, no artist, just this damn catchy song stuck in your head. What do you do ?

Everybody’s got a lost song…. You, me, everybody.

You heard it during a commercial, you listened to it on the radio during some stunningly bright afternoon drive when you were young and buzzing, or maybe your favourite live band played a cover of it at that concert you only kind-of remember. Whatever the circumstances of you’re first brief love-affair with the song, one thing that unites us in the love of these lost pieces of music is the simple fact that even though we all remember how amazing they are… We’ll probably never hear ‘em again.

Maybe it was a remix, a one hit wonder, or worse, a radio demo designed to be difficult to research. You never caught the name of the song, hell you never even caught the name of the band, the style of music is hard to define, and everybody else on earth seems to have blotted the time period it was released from their memories. Every time you try to explain the song to someone by humming, or blushingly singing the words you only half-remember, they just nod and flash you that coddling smile reserved only for the drunk or mentally unstable… So it’s just you, all alone, with this damn catchy song stuck in your head.

This was me for eight years.

It’s been so long I don’t even remember when I first heard the song. I knew it was on the radio in the early 90s, I knew it wasn’t on for very long, and I knew it was by a band with a really obscure “arthouse” name. It had some dude half-mumbling quirky lyrics, and a sample of a blues singer howling: “I’ve been down… I’ve been down… something, something“. It was a breezy song like Bran Van 3000′s Drinking In LA, but a little more intimate. That’s all I had to go on… That and love.

The miracle of the internet is of course the best option for us starstruck lunatics to finally re-unite with our lost eardrum epiphanies. There are a couple different avenues I tried, and would suggest trying for anyone else out there hopelessly searching with nothing but a melody and a prayer:

Option 1 – Yahoo Answers

Yahoo may not be the reigning search engine anymore, but their Question and Answer forums are indispensable for finding lost songs. With bazillions of threads sorted by topic, you could very well end your search early with a little patience and a lot of scrolling.

Option 2 – Lyric Sites

Okay Yahoo was a no-go, never fear! Type the words “Lyrics” into your search engine bar and then spew what few words you remember from the song along with it. There are tons of Lyric Sites that contain databases full of albums and singles and they’re lyrics. My fav Lyric sites are Adtunes (for commercials), and (For everything else). It doesn’t matter if the words are right or not, if they’re close enough to the real deal, they might catch the edge of a couple songs by the same artist, or even a Lyric Q&A forum.

Option 3 – Read This FAQ sheet from

You’re starting to get desperate now eh ? Try this brilliant shotgun phrase technique and you may just hit your target this time.

Option 4 – Tap the song ? Wtf ?

I can’t actually endorse this option ’cause I never used it for my own lost song search, I just ran across it while putting together this post. Apparently SongTapper works rather well, and it correctly identified Black Sabbath’s Iron Man for me (although now that I think about it, that’s a really freakin easy one). Just tap your song’s beat onto the keyboard and the magical song leprechauns will save the day… or not.

Option 5 – Last resort

Night after night of searching and still nothing but carpal tunnel and burnt eyeballs, okay then, last resort. If you follow these instructions to the letter there’s an astronomically slim chance you may yet find your song. Step one, get very drunk. Step two, start singing what little of the song you remember to yourself. Step three, type everything your singing AND thinking into Google at the same time.  The resulting gibberish may in fact lead you to some forgotten forum on the edge of the universe that contains a description or title of the song.

For Example, I Typed: “This 90s song with a mummbly guy singin and another blues guy singing maybe some kinda sample of another song in the a chorus – I been down I been down - an it’s killing me cause I’ll never find it and… etc

On and on I typed, everything making complete sense in my alcohol-soaked mind, although in reality Google probably alerted psychiatric authorities in my area to my need for medication.

Sure enough, after eight years of fruitless searching, one drunken spew-fest and a tap of my mouse button and up popped salvation. I happened upon the same phrase used by people in This Forum, which just happened to be about… you guessed it, my lost song. Alcohol truly is the answer to all life’s problems.

So yeah, all this time, I didn’t have the correct lyrics (which is why Lyric Searches failed), plus the band name (Primitive Radio Gods), and the track title (get this: “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand“) is so freakin obscure I never would have nailed it without help. Check out the Video for this forgotten 90s masterpiece HERE. It really is a beautifully, nostalgically chill song.

What the morel of this tale is, I don’t know. What I do know is that IT IS POSSIBLE for each of us to find our lost songs, all you need is a little bit of patience, faith, and maybe a little hooch.

Much love.

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7 Responses to “Searching For That Lost Song”

  1. AvatarToni

    I just spent a good 15 minutes on songtapper — was fun trying to see what it could guess.

    Reply to this comment.
  2. AvatarAnton

    Thank you for posting this. I too have been searching for this song for a while and by typing in “‘I been down I been down’ lyrics” into the google search I found your post THANK YOU!

    Reply to this comment.
  3. AvatarRavin_13

    Such an amazing song. love how they sampled BB King

    Reply to this comment.
  4. AvatarROCK ON

    Loved your site. Finally found the answer to my multi year search using google advanced search and just keep trying variations of must contain and may contain options. Your frustration mirrors my own and I agree that no matter how tough things get, there is always alcohol. Work is the curse of the drinking class.
    Long live rock and roll!

    Reply to this comment.
  5. Avatarsearchengineman

    I too have a trapped song in my head…sounds like a cirques du soleil – Loreena McKennitt’s – Choir backup song riff- instrumental, heard it in a restaurant 12 years ago. I can hum the damn thing.

    I can’t find day sound recognition technology will get good enough for me to track down the song.


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  6. AvatarTony

    I’ve been looking for a song for well over 10 years. It came out in the early to mid 90′s. I believe it was just a minor radio hit. The only lyrics I know are ” cause it’s a cruel and nasty world” and “and you can always come on home, to me.” Its sounds like an alternative type song, with electic acoustic guitars playing the rhythm and electric bass and drums in the back round. Very good song. The vocalist was a male. Kind of depressing sounding, but one of my favorite songs ever. If you can think of anything, let me know. Thanks. Please… if you can help, drop me a line.

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  7. AvatarTerry Halliday

    Ive been searching for a song from the 80s called. Keepin that ball Rollin if any one can help please doContact me

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