You know… “there’s a club if you want to go, you could meet somebody who really loves you.” What’s that song called? I also like the one that goes.. “I used to think that the day would never come I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun”. But I can’t remember the name…
Largely influenced by bands like New Order and The Smiths–and songs like “How Soon is Now” and “True Faith” quoted above– my song titles rarely reflect the lyrics in my songs. This came up tonight when a listener called into CHIRP Radio and asked if they could play “the William Steffey song that has the words ‘war to be won'”. I knew the DJ that was on at the time and he reached out and asked me what the tune was.
Have to get this out of the way- I’m ridiculously excited that people are requesting my songs! But I do make it tough with this obscure titling business. The song in question tonight was “Diabla”, and sure enough, the word Diabla appears nowhere in the song. The song probably would be getting a little more mileage if I titled it after the lyric that ends the chorus in force: “My god doesn’t need a gun”.
I remember sitting at Huettenbar the first time I met Kate Schell to talk about the Airport Hookers project, and we began talking about our own songs. I had just finished up a tune called “Knit Hat”, after a brief lyric that kicked off the song. Kate, whose artistry and songwriting I respect immensely, looked at me and said earnestly “I just name the song after whatever I repeat in the chorus.” For some reason it took me this long to realize that it’s not a bad idea sometimes. I changed the name of my song to “Want It All“, after the hook in the chorus, and it ties up the song much better than “Knit Hat”. Just makes sense.
I think it’s a matter of embracing the popular naming conventions of the medium, which I’d like to do a little bit more in the future. I don’t feel like my songs need to be these cryptic masterworks all the time. I do like the idea of keeping lyrics loose enough so people can infer their own meanings hither and thither, but it’s also nice to connect sometimes in a ‘no doubt about it’ kind of way.
Here’s an article with some zingers I never even thought about… 10 Famous Song Titles That Never Appear Lyrically in the Song
So what’s your favorite song that’s title is not connected to any of its lyrics? Let me know in the comments!
(photo credit: Eric Nopanen)