How To Write A Song, Part 1 – The Hook Line
Think of a song you enjoy listening to. It could be a song from your youth that you always loved, or it could be a song that you’ve heard playing on the radio a couple minutes ago. Sing the part you know in your head. You probably just sang the hook line. Did you sing the words Sweet Home Alabama, or Sweet Caroline, or was it On The Road Again? Those are hook lines! Ear catching hook lines have been the starting point for many great songs! I’m always looking for them! When I find a good one, I write it down or record right away!
People ask me, “What comes first, music or words?” I tell them, “I write the hook!” Sometimes I hear the music along with the hook, but always the hook.
A good hook will give you a starting point for how to write a song lyrically. When I wrote the hook line Why Not, One More Drink, I had a few pretty clear ideas on how to build the lyrics.
A great place to find hook lines is by listening to people speak. People say the strangest things, if you listen! On my last CD I wrote a song called Playin’ to Win. The idea for this song came while my father and I were sitting at a blackjack table in South Dakota. We were joking about splitting a pair of tens, which in blackjack is taboo because a pair of tens is already probably a winning hand. I believe my father said “do it, split the tens, losing doesn’t mean anything, only thing that matters is that you’re playing to win!” That really stuck out as one of those odd twists and after some re-write it became, Losin’ Don’t Mean A Thing, If You’re Playin’ To Win. There’s a scene in the video for the song where I split the tens at a blackjack table, and off course in the video I win!
When you think of a potential hook, or hear a nice twist on words, grab a napkin, any piece of paper, or your smart phone. People may look at you strange, but just look back at them and say, “I’m a songwriter; I have to write down my ideas when they come!”
Last thing, if you’re fortunate enough to have an idea for a melody with the hook, sing a few bars of Mumbo Jumbo into your recorder as well. Mumbo Jumbo is any words you can think of to accompany the music pattern and hook line you are putting down on tape. You’ll be surprised how often you come back to that Mumbo Jumbo and use something from it!
So go out and get those hook lines! Start making a collection of your own hooks, and check back and visit me for the next article on Song Writing, Part 2.
Below is the video link to the song Playin’ To Win which I referenced in the Ezine Article How To Write A Song, Part 1 – The Hook Line
Below you can read the lyrics and listen to an mp3 of Playin’ To Win and Why Not One More Drink
First Song – Playin’ To Win