Titles are so important when writing songs. The Title is like a great book cover, a great title can capture the listener before he/she has even heard your song and more importantly will help the listener to remember it. It’s the sales pitch for the entire song.
Purposes Of A Song Title
Song titles have to deliver a number of important factors. For example it is good if they can possess some of these qualities:
Be Of Interest
Make The Reader / Listener Curious
Convey Something Original
Convey Something Universal That Everyone Can Relate To
Tease The Reader / Listener – Not Reveal Everything
Use A Small Number Of Words – 5 or less
Contain Or Reflect The Main Lyrical Hook (Importance Depends On Music Genre And Perspective)
1. Noun and Adjective Lists
Write down long lists of nouns and adjectives. Blend words from these lists to create pairs of words. In addition, also blend words within the same lists to get verb-verb and noun-noun word pairs. Select the ones you like and develop those word pairs or use those word pairs to create new word pairs based giving lists that go in new directions.
2. Research Other Media
Do some research. Read some online articles, newspaper articles and magazine articles etc. and use them to generate seed ideas for new titles and song lyrics.
Common Phrase’s that people say have not all been used in songs. Even phrases that are said wrong can be turned into great Song Titles ‘A Hard Days Night’ was Ringo’s remark/comment said to John Lennon and we know how that turned out.
A play on words or opposites works pretty well too, one of my own songs ‘I Mean To Be Nice’ is a good example.
3. Prose On A Topic
Choose a topic you are interested in writing a song about.
Proceed to write some free-flowing text inspired by that topic.
Explore any emotions and emotional perspectives, scenarios and conclusions that the story implies.
Use that text to then create phrases and word pairs to use as a seed idea for creating a title.
Great song titles will always have one or two of these ingredients;
Connection to Events and/or People
Common Tools For Songwriters
There are a few basic tools that can be of help when creating titles and other aspects of writing a song:
A Pocket Sized Notepad
Pen, Pencil and Eraser
Post It Notepad
A Rhyming Dictionary (online and an offline book)
A Thesaurus (online and an offline book)
A Recording Device That You Can Speak / Sing Into
For the most part, if you’re searching (as you should be) for a way to say something in a fresh and unusual way, you’re likely to arrive at an imaginative title in the process. Concept and title are so wedded that, particularly in Country music, many writers don’t even begin to write a song until they have a great title/concept. It’s a very common and practical way to start. Sometimes, if you have the right title, the song practically writes itself.
So to recap – start with the basic concept that you want to form the song around, the mood, the voice, the scene, the emotion etc. Then find that great-stand-out-Title that will grab the listener by the eyes before the ears! A great title will in fact help you write a better song, from my experience if I have a great title to start from I want the music and lyrics to be great too.