Song titles - do they have to be unique?
I have a song (posted elsewhere here) that I had a really hard time picking a title for. I finally settled on "Hello, Old Friend." Then a google search turned up Eric Clapton's song of the same name. So, the question is... does it matter?
Does it matter if there is already a song out there with the same name? Obviously, you wouldn't want to call a song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," but a lesser known song like this one? What do you think?
I may or may not be an enigma
i think a lot depends on who you are , and what youre looking to achieve . if you just want to post your lyrics / songs on forums , then you can pretty much write about anything you want , and title it however you want , within reason . but if youre looking to make money from your songs , then the content and title of a song become a lot more important . ive heard a lot of people say that the title of your song , could be the difference between getting a listen , or not getting a listen , and i think i'd agree with that . if you have a title thats common or boring , then people are gonna be less inclined to click on your song , and i think the same could probably be said for song with bizarre titles . the problem these days , is that there are soooooooo many songs being made , that its almost impossible to come up with a smooth sounding title thats also original . in regards to your question about about ''hello old friend'' , a lot might depend on the age of your listening audience . a younger demographic probably wouldnt even know the song , but an older audience might pick you up on the title .
Titles are very important. I always cite the title back on our beloved Songwrite101 which had 10,000 Views. I thought, "Wow! Must be a good one!" I clicked on it, 10,000 and 1, and it wasn't. The title was unsupported by a Lyric that made the title significant.
That made me realize the 'click-er' had no idea what the Lyric might be. It was only the title that made them curious enough to click. That, if that's what really happened and not someone clicking on their own post 10,000 times in an effort to boost its 'rating', would demonstrate the importance of a title.
Just because a title has been used before doesn't mean it can't be used again. Using a well-known unique title, such as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" would likely not go over well, unless you had a really great Lyric, with a really great Melody, and really great arrangement (instrumental accompaniment) that were not merely a derivative ripoff of The Beatles' original.
I went searching the copyright office for my Song, "Goin' Back To New Orleans" and got a bunch of them.
I wrote a Song, titled "Rolling Stone", and someone said it was a bad choice "for obvious reasons", implying I think that Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" had forever locked in the ancient metaphor that "A rolling stone gathers no moss." could never be used by anyone else ever again. I disagree. The metaphor preceded Dylan's masterful use of it. Mine's nothing like his. The title stands.
If the title becomes the title as I write, which it usually does, just coming to me when it is 'time' for the title to come, that's the title. There's not a lot of contrivance and planning or 'crafting' at that point, just inspiration and ad lib. When I wrote "Over The River Tonight" I didn't know that title was coming. It came when it was time for the title to come, with a Melody that emphasized it as the obvious title, with meaning that made it work as the summary Line, the gist of the whole story. In the manufacturing of Songs by professional Songwriters who write every day, fabricating intentionally for the market, instead of being inspired, they often start with a title and try to write expositional ideas in Lines to arrive at the title. That contrivance is sometimes easy to spot, just Rhyming along without significant or interesting meaning.
Examining titles to see if you just grabbed a Line because it Rhymed or truly found a Line that serves that summary function for the whole storyline could help you find a more interesting title, so it is worth consideration and a bit of contrivance, crafting, to see if a better Song awaits.
Despite 1,000's of years of Songwriting humans have not exhausted the possibilities. There will always be another Song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
A lot depends on if you have an iconic or current title. If you have something that is well known, especially a classic hit that is still played on the radio continually, like a "Margaritaville" it probably is not a good idea, because people will always refer to the other song. I once had a client who had a song called "YESTERDAY." She was too young to know the Paul McCartney song, but everywhere she went where she mentioned her title, people would sing "All my troubles seemed so far away..." There was no way to win that one.
You cannot copyright a title so you can use them, but you just have to be aware of the complications it might cause. Having unique titles are important but many songs have very common titles with interesting approaches on the song.
At the beginning of her career, one of Taylor Swift's first huge hits was called "OUR SONG." That title has been used millions of times over the decades, but usually was used with the story line of "Our song was the one our kids were born to, on our first date, when we made that special trip..." etc. Taylor's song was about NOISES. "Taking low on the phone so your mama don't know..." " A slamming door..." etc. it was all about the noises of her relationship that was the background.
I once had a younger artist that wanted to write a song about a Truck. Ordinarily that would be pretty yuck. Done to death. But we described the truck in the terms of sounding like it was her boyfriend. Until you really got to the chorus, you didn't realize it was about a truck. It was called "DREAM TRUCK." So it was a little different approach. They can work in your favor or work against you. The big thing is to keep in mind what has been done on other songs, and just be aware.
Another thing can be if a song was a fairly recent hit or overwritten. If you have something which would be a recent world wide event, say the current rash of shootings, or some current event, by definition, those are going to be written a lot, since songwriters generally write what they see. When we had 9-11, there were thousands of America or 911 themed songs. So you have to watch for shelf life in songs. Or if there is some recent hit on the radio, it will be difficult to find a different way to write that without confusion about your song. Even if you had it before the current hit came out. Sometimes you just miss timing wise.
Other than that, you just sort of have to write what you want and take your best shot. But they are important. So make sure they reinforce your hook and is easily identifiable for people to find you.