Song Titles

So let’s start at the top, with titles. How important is a great title? Does it make or break a song? Well my feeling is a great title is a great asset to a song. However, rarely does a title ruin a song. One of the more difficult things in the process of writing songs is to get the ball rolling, to get the song started, and a great way to do that is with a great title. A great title can be a great idea for a song. One of the greatest titles, in my opinion, was written by Sonny boy Williamson and that title was “Your Funeral, My Trial”. Doesn’t that say it all?

Well, we’ve talked about how a great title can enhance the song, and a bad title ruin a song? I don’t think so.

One more thing…Titles should almost always be included in the lyrics of the song. Keep in mind that songs are heard by listeners and not read like poetry. We’re trying to make our songs memorable and one way to do it it to make every effort to make our titles obvious to our listeners.

An excellent place to put your title is in the chorus. The reason being that the chorus should be the most memorable part of your song, it’s the essence of your song and it’s sung multiple times in a song.

Another good place to place your title is to repeat it at the end of each verse. This is called a ‘refrain’.


3 thoughts on “Song Titles

  1. Yeah, good thoughts, Jimmy. A good title that you might read, for instance, in an iTunes search, might prompt you to listen to something that you otherwise might not. Just seems natural that the title would just help lead to the saleability of the song.

    Everything you said is true and deserves review.

    For a suggestion of a subject for future discussion, how ’bout “Endings.” I think a lot of songwriters don’t write well thought out endings to songs just out of laziness. I don’t think a song is really finished until a true finality has been added to it. I’m not a real big fan of the “Hollywood Fade” as Tambling calls it. There are a few in which it fits, but more often than not I think the artist is just tired of thinking up stuff so he/she takes the easy way out. Discuss?


  2. I think the song title is very important; it helps the listener related to the song and is the punch the gets the main idea or point across. I agree that it should be included in the lyric and especially in the chorus or refrain.

    It doesn’t necessarily make or break a song however. “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” (Paul Simon) comes to mind. Such a beautiful song and I don’t believe the title can be found anywhere in the lyrics. But the song itself is so touching that I could never forget the title.

    So I think it’s up to the songwriter to put a label on his composition. Having said that, I am a recent fan of the band “Iron & Wine” and that guy writes some seriously awesome lyrics and melodies. But the song titles are often difficult to remember because they frequently have little to do with the song itself. When I try to look the song up on one of my “devices”, I get frustrated trying to recall the name of the tune. May this guy thinks this is clever or coy, but I don’t think he does any favors for his fans.

    Generally speaking, I try to use a title that’s relevant to the song, and not just for the listener but for myself! It actually helps me to remember the song and what the song is about.

    Good topic Jim! Thanks!


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