Songwriting Instruction - The
Importance of Your Title
By Steven Wagenheim
What's in a name, or more specifically for songwriting, what's in a title? Well, for a lot of
people, the title is everything. It's what they most identify with when they're thinking of a song. How many times
did you think of a particular song but couldn't remember the title because it really wasn't all that memorable? If
your title isn't top notch, the chances of your song pressing all the right buttons are going to be slim to none.
This article will go into some detail as to what makes a great title.
For starters, your title should be short and to the point. Yes, I know there are exceptions
to this rule. Take the old tune, "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor (On The Bedpost Overnight?)" Quite long by
any standards. But titles that are usually this long are very unique, such as this one. A title like, "Are You
Going To Love Me Tomorrow If I Kick The Bucket Today?" is probably not going to be very memorable. But then again,
maybe it will be. It is kind of quirky. But in general, you want to keep your titles short and to the
Secondly, you want the title of your song to give the listener and pretty good idea of what
the song is about but without giving it all away. In other words, you want there to be some mystery to your title.
For example, let's take the song "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles. You can pretty much guess that the song is going
to be about a person by the name of Eleanor Rigby, but you don't know anything about her from the title. You're
going to need to actually listen to the tune to get her "story". And make no mistake about it, some of the best
songs ARE stories about people, places or things.
Finally, you want your title to have some kind of trigger word or words in it. For example,
take the song by Van Halen, "Jump". The title is an action word. "Help" by the Beatles would be another action
word, a cry for help. "Go Now" by the Moody Blues would be another great action title. Another kind of trigger is
using words that designate people, places or things, such as "Eleanor Rigby". Another such title would be "Grand
Hotel" by Procol Harum. The classic "American Pie" by Don Mclean is another great trigger.
As you work on your titles, you will find that you will get better and better at them until
one day you come up with a title that literally writes the song itself.
That's when you know you have a winner.
To YOUR Songwriting Success,