Stormy Monday, Born to be Wild, White Christmas …we all know these are song titles, very successful ones at that…so successful that they've passed down into our everyday culture and we instantly know what the song is about when we hear them.
Sometimes, especially when you're starting out, coming up with a great title will make the writing of your song that much easier. Take White Christmas. What do you think of when you hear those words? Snow falling, Christmas time, presents, fireside, Christmas tree, mistletoe, sleigh bells, snowmen…you could write pages and pages of what that means to you. By writing the title first, you can start to discover the roadmap of what your song will be about.
Here's an example. Let's say you're writing about your dog…what would be a good title? Your title should tell your audience right away what your song is about. Do you want to tell them about how he looks, how he makes you feel, is he alive, does he die in the song, does he chew your shoes? You get the idea. Start brainstorming ideas. My Fuzzy Valentine…He's My Fireside Friend…Big Brown Eyes…He May Smell Bad, But He's My Best Friend…. I'm being silly. The point is start writing in a few words what your title means. Write pages, lists, talk out loud, make up silly stories, get those creative juices flowing. We're not talking "good" here, just start writing. Try not to think about the tune or audience or rhyme scheme yet. We just want to generate ideas. Does he chew your shoes? "I'm Just a Chew Toy for Your Love". Instantly, I think of country music, pedal steel, twanging guitar and a funny sad song. There's my song roadmap all laid out for me. What's the point of the song? I love you even though you eat my shoes. Do you get this? It's probably one of the craziest ways of writing a song, but it's a ton of fun. A good title can send you off in different directions without really trying to. And a good title sticks in your mind. Think Hotel California, Blowin' in the Wind…these are songs we all remember even though we probably don't know the words.
A good title is a diving board for your song. It can suggest the chorus, feature a high point, make your audience laugh, cry, sing along. That's quite a tool. It can be the doorway to your song. Here's a fun exercise. Take the title of a song you hear on the radio and write your own verse and chorus. Don't worry about tune or rhyme scheme; just write what you think the title should be about. Try it with old jazz standards. Try it with campfire songs. It's a great way to get started.
Here's a great article on the Internet at http://www.jpfolks.com/JPNotes/ on starting with the title.
Until next month, KEEP WRITING!!
Jane Eamon is a prolific performing songwriter in the Okanagan Valley. Veteran of many songwriting workshops, she's currently one of the hosts of the popular Songwriters in the Round series in Kelowna. Email her at: email@example.com.
Visit her website: www.janeandgord.com