But! With a little finesse and simple memorization, Google can be almost magical in finding songs for you.
Let's say that you're listening to this mystery song on the radio and want to find out how to obtain a copy later (from your friendly local DRM-free online music seller such as Amazon, iTunes, some crazy Russian mp3 site, etc). Here's how to go about it:
1. Pick out and memorize some significant phrases.
By "significant" I mean "containing more than verbal filler." If you hear a sappy love song and only remember the phrases "Ooh baby," "oh yeah," and "I love you" you're not going to get anywhere. But if the phrase is sufficiently long or distinctive, you'll get it in one: "the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singing to me now" is more than enough. Even a pair of two- or three-word snippets will work surprisingly often.
The chorus of the song is generally good for this, especially since they'll repeat it several times and that makes it easier to drive it into your mind and get all the messy little prepositions right.
2. Make a beeline for a web browser.
Look it up as you're settling into work after your commute or the instant you get home. Keeping the memorized phrases in the front of your mind is hard enough; setting it on the back burner is a recipe for failure.
3. Use optimal search syntax.
What you want to do is feed Google (other search engines will work, but Google's very good about this) the search term:
"PHRASEONE" [ "PHRASETWO" [ "PHRASETHREE" ... ] ] lyrics
For those of you unfamiliar with Unix manual page syntax, this means that you enclose each individual phrase in quotes, include as many phrases as you want (one, two, three, etc), and end with the bare word lyrics. Like so:
"the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singing to me now" lyrics
Or, to repeat the one I ran this morning,
"make sure you're connected" "writing's on the wall" "stumble you might fall" lyrics[*]. Voila!
This technique works better the more specific you get, but you have to have the words right. Searching for "airwaves are clean and nobody's singing to me now" and leaving out the "there" in the middle is totally useless. To get around this, split your single long phrase into a few brief ones and put in the words you're most certain of:
"airwaves are clean" "singing to me" lyrics[*]. See, it really doesn't take much!
Is the chorus the same line repeated over and over again? Feed in the duplicate phrase inside a single pair of quotes: "change i can change i can change" works MUCH better than "i can change". Throwing in a second significant phrase along with the repeated one works even better yet.
Enjoy your music, and go read Legend of Hero, where you can pick up other useful life skills such as "how to fight off a rampaging 30-foot bull-fish monster" and "etiquette for comparing notes with characters from inside your favorite role-playing game."
This week's tutorial is "how to deal with your sorta-boyfriend disappearing and your gaming buddies acting weird," led by previously minor character Crissy Ellenberg. Act II: See her doodle to escape the tedium of Mr. Henderson's lectures! Hear her banter about mythology as she paints character portraits! Watch her pick up the Magical Plot Brush! Act III: Feel the suspense as Kevin evades all her questions! Thrill as she remembers the business card we last saw a few months back ... and discover, along with her, what's actually on it!! THE SUSPENSE, IT MAKES ME SHOUT!!!!1!!