By Gary Earl
I remember arriving in Nashville for the first time, sitting in ASCAP with a rep, eager to show her my song that I knew was a big hit. (So clever, I thought.) She glanced at the lyric sheet, (Title: “That’s All She Wrote”) then brought her computer screen around to show me 300 other songs also titled “That’s All She Wrote.” And those were just the ones registered! She said, “It is well written, but every writer in town has a song with that hook. Most Publishers have a couple.”
So I showed her my second best song: “Don’t Hold Back.” Yep, same problem. Now that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a hit next year titled “Don’t Hold Back,” but if there is, odds are it will be written or co-written by the artist, who already has a huge fan base that will buy anything they put out. But for outside writers like you & me? Hard to get anyone excited about listening to that title. We need to be more “fresh,” or “unique.” We need titles that make the listener compelled to hear where we went with that idea, how we handled it, etc.
So look at love from a different angle, a different view, come up with something that makes your friends WANT to hear it. “Our Song,” “That’s What You Get,” “October, First Account,” “Green Light,” “Free Fallin.’” Those songs are out there on the charts now, and with some of them, you can’t tell where they’re going by the title, and it catches your interest wondering how they’ll evolve it. And that title “Don’t Hold Back?” I never got it cut, and in the last year I’ve done several online evaluations for songs with the name… you guessed it, “Don’t Hold Back.” Even if that is your hook, then consider grabbing a title from somewhere else in the song… Something that will jump out at the publisher or A&R gal, something that will compel them to listen.