Popular Music and Lyrics - LPC Library Research Guide

Please ask a reference librarian for assistance at any time. We will be glad to help!


Use reference sources for background information, broad overviews and summaries.  The reference collection includes general and subject dictionaries and encyclopedias, biographies, directories, almanacs, atlases, etc.  Many also contain bibliographies for further research.  Reference books cannot be checked out from the library but may be photocopied. There are several excellent music reference materials at the LPC library.  Here are just a few examples of subject specific materials that you will find of use.

All Music Guide to hip-hop: The Definitive Guide to Rap & Hip-Hop, Ref ML156.4.R27.A45 2003

American Decades (1900's-1990's), Ref E169.12.A4198 2001

American Musical Traditions, Ref ML3551.A53 2002 v. 1-5

Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Ref ML102.P66 G84 2007

Encyclopedia of Punk Music and Culture, Ref ML102.R6 C64 2006

Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture, Ref ML102 .R27 B96 2006

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The U.S. and Canada, Ref ML100.G16 1998 v. 3

Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History, Ref ML3534.G754 2006 v.1-6

Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Ref ML102.R6 R64 2001

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Ref E169.1.S764 2000 v. 1-5



Use the online catalog to find materials in the library. This will show you all the books and audiovisual materials LPC Library owns. You can search for a book or DVD by the author, title, subject, or keyword. A subject search allows you to find books about a topic or a person. You may also ADD LIMITS to your search, such as "audiovisual" to find only DVDs OR “music recordings” to find only CD’s.

Examples of subject headings:

Folk music – United States
Hip-hop – history and criticism
Motion Picture Music
Musicals – Librettos
Popular music – United States
Rap (music)
Rap (music) – history and criticism
Rock music – history and criticism



Periodicals provide in-depth analyses of events and trends, research studies on particular subjects, and professional literature.  When conducting research in both the social and physical sciences it is important to know the difference between “popular” periodical literature and more scholarly publications.  A good guide to recognizing the differences between popular magazines and scholarly journals can be found at the LPC Library Students web page - Scholarly Journals or Popular Magazines: What are the Differences? LPC Library Short Guide.

Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) – provides full text for nearly 4,500 journals, including full text for more than 3,600 peer-reviewed titles. PDF back files to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals.  Under Search Options you can also limit your search in order to retrieve materials from peer-reviewed journals or full-text articles.  If you are looking for something from a specific publication you can limit your search by entering the name of the magazine or journal. Suggestion:  Do a keyword search for “women in music” or “alternative rock music.”

Articles listed will include the title and author of the article, the name of the magazine in which the article appears, the pages and the date of the issue.  It will also state whether Las Positas Library owns the magazine and whether the full-text article is available.


You may want to explore some Internet resources to supplement or enhance your research.  Always be cautious of information you find on the Web since the quality of sources varies tremendously on the Internet.  It is always a good idea to check the information against another source.  As with all information resources, whether in print or on the Internet, you evaluate its quality based on the following criteria:

  • Accuracy (Is it free from mistakes and errors?)
  • Authority (What are the qualifications of the author?)
  • Objectivity (Is there any strong bias?)
  • Currency Is the information up-to-date?)
  • Coverage (To what extent is the topic explored?)

Examples of relevant web sites on Popular Music Lyrics: 

Song Lyrics; Libretti Directory of links to song lyrics archives available on the Internet, maintained by the music librarians at Indiana University. Subject: Lyrics. Some samples of the links available are:

Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, David Dodd
Harry's Blues Lyrics Online – Lyrics, tabs & chords and sound clips of blues songs, blues terms and
language defined and explained, blues history, blues CD's and books selection, and more.
My Lyric Archive: Hard-to-Find Soul, Blues and Rock Lyrics
Original Hip-Hop (Rap) Lyrics Archive
Sting & The Police Lyrics Library

BUBL LINK: Popular Music – Another U.K. popular music portal that provides annotations, resource types, and subjects for popular music resources. Click on the Search box and type in “lyrics” in the Combined Search field.

Digital Librarian: Locating Lyrics, Sheet Music, Librettos, & Scores – Not updated regularly but does provide a good list of music sites to explore.

Google – General search engine search. Suggestion: Do a search for “great balls of fire” +lewis +lyrics (“song title” +artist +lyrics) to find the lyrics to a specific song.

Intute: Arts and Humanities Hub – Has more of a U.K. focus. Suggestion: Try browsing Genres to get an overview what is available.

Yahoo!Music – Yahoo has integrated lyrics from over 400,000 songs into its music database.



You must cite the sources that you use. All direct quotes must be cited; all ideas or facts taken from some other writer, even though in your own words, must be cited. It is PLAGIARISM if you copy another's words without quoting or if you paraphrase another's ideas or words without giving credit to the author.

Keep printouts of your sources, or write out all pertinent information on author, title, publisher, date, or Internet address to identify where you got the information. Follow the format recommended by your instructor or ask a librarian to show you a "style manual." There are links to various citation formats on the Citation Style Guides page, for example, as well as the online resource, NoodleBib, a bibliography composer.

Please ask a reference librarian for help!


Frances Hui, Alison Finch, Librarians


Last Updated: October 2, 2009


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Page last modified: July 03, 2014