According to Craig Bickhardt, It’s All (Almost) In A Name.
The subject is songwriting. More specifically, it’s the naming of songs. Craig discusses the value of a compelling song title, and the disappointment of a bland one. He argues that far too many songs these days lack compelling titles.
Let’s agree on one thing: the charts (not just country) for the most part look pretty boring these days whether they sound boring or not.
I’m not being cynical here– I’d still only write an idea I believed in and connected with from the heart, but some words and phrases are just more alluring than others, aren’t they? When it comes to evoking the mysterious, the romantic, the playful, the profound, it’s all (almost) in a name.
With the myriad of choices the fan faces these days, first impression are important. Bickhardt’s argument is basically that the song title is your first impression. When a fan is looking for new music on iTunes, the title is the first thing they see. If they’re listening on the radio though, his theory begins to break down, because the title isn’t so important then. I suppose that’s why he includes the (Almost) in his opening statement.
I decided to try a little experiment to test his theory. I opened my iTunes and set the view to List mode. I sorted by genre and scrolled down to the bluegrass section. Then I just quickly went through it thinking to see if interesting song titles would compel me to listen to one song over another.
My experiment failed. I think it was because I was too familiar with the melodies of the songs I was seeing. As soon as I saw “On and On” I sang it in my head, which kind of defeated the idea of judging my inclination to listen to the song based solely on the title.
Nonetheless, I think he may be on to something. As with any craft, paying attention to details can separate good from great. If two instruments sound equally good, but the finish work on one is clearly superior, guess which one most people will buy. So, should songwriters pay careful attention to the title? Sure. But I’m not convinced the title is a make-it-or-break-it detail.
Read It’s All (Almost) In A Name and decide for yourself.