THE Hook: Reporting Back

 
       
 
Sep 26, 2017, 03:07 AM

I often say THE Hook, the title line, should ‘sum up’ what the main idea of a Song is.

I recently rewrote Bob Dylan’s very popular “Tangled Up In Blue” to simplify the very poetic Lyric. (Shortly thereafter I read him quoted, saying, “I didn’t want it to be a simple love song.”) (Or something like that.)

But I didn’t want to learn all those words, which, while poetic, are as much rambling distraction as coherent in telling the story of the two people in the Song. (I even added a Movement, “I was tangled up in me! You were tangled up in you! Tangled up in the thing we do! Tangled Up In Blue!” to make it work my way.)


But I realized that the title, “Tangled Up In Blue”, is very abstract as a summary idea for the storyline.

That made me wonder if simply ‘reporting back’ to THE Hook can be adequate as a structural device, supplying a structural component the listener can relate to, a factor in making the Song coherent.

I think it can, based on that Song. The reader/listener can formulate a meaning in the storyline for “Tangled Up In Blue”, some summary idea about the on-again/off-again relationship the Singer-Character and the Love-Interest Character have. But I think it IS abstract, actually DEMANDING that the listener make that assumption of meaning for it to BE meaningful in the Lyric/storyline.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Sep 26, 2017, 09:05 AM

I was given a pro tip years ago to make sure that you are writing to your hook. One of the biggest problems most newer writers have is that they most often DON’T write to support the hook. The hook is what holds it all together, also the main thing that reminds people of what THE SONG IS ABOUT.

The trick was to couple the first or second line of the vereses and then use the hook and the song should make sense:

“I’ve been running down the road trying to loosen my load, got seven women on my mind
TAKE IT EASY….TAKE IT EASY…

YESTERDAY MY TROUBLES SEEMED SO FAR AWAY
NOW I BELIEVE IN YESTERDAY


You can actually do it in most hit songs. You can take segments of the song though out and use them this way to see if they work.

On more artsy, and obscure songs, it doesn’t always work because the poetic nature don’t adhere to a strict format, and sometimes are artist driven so they don’t really even have to make sense. On your “Tangled up in Blue” example, I never knew what that song was about, because I couldn’t get past Bob’s voice. Never been able to do that. I give him all the credit in the world for what he’s done, but MAN, between him and Kristofferson, I could never really listen comfortable to those songs.

The HOOK is what the listener needs to bring them back to the REASON for listening to the song. If you don’t do that, you simply take a chance of losing the audience quickly. Hooks are what keeps them coming back.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Sep 26, 2017, 11:13 AM

MAB, it looks like we are kindred spirits. I never could get past Dylan’s voice either. It was just so annoying. This irritation probably predisposed me to my view that he was overrated. (Not that he wasn’t very good, of course)

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Sep 26, 2017, 12:39 PM

Gavin,

Dylan was very influential and you do have to give credit where credit is due. But Dylan has done a lot of things, that he will be the first to tell you was pure gibberish. And he did that much for a reason. Because in the early 60’s a generation adopted him as “their voice” and took everything he said, often in places that he never intended it to be. Was that era where everyone was looking for answers, and seized upon Dylan as their “Moses.” They would read things into his lyrics that weren’t there and that he never intended.  So he would do things just to tweak them. Had a Motorcycle wreck and disappeared for two years, came back and went electric at the Newport folk Festival, and causing people to rebel against him, call him “Judas” because he didn’t want to be their Moses. he wanted to be a “song and Dance Man.”
John Lennon did much of the same thing, just throwing words together that rhymed because people read so much that was not there. When someone like Charles Manson can take a phrase “HELTER SKELTER” AND turn it into a call to kill people and start a race war, you know people can simply get INSANE!

So I think a lot about some of these heroes are probably overthought.

I’ve always been an ENTERTAINER AND A SINGER first and foremost, so strange voices, cryptic songs, oddly crafted, abstract things have never had much interest to me. I’ve always felt that my role is to NOT give people an excuse to go to the bathroom, continue their cell phone conversations, or simply tune me out. Yet, hundreds upon hundreds of thousands upon thousands of writers seem to think that the more convoluted, complicated and cryptic you can make things the better. in most cases, NOPE. Sorry. But here’s a copy of our home game. Thanks for playing.

That is why I gravitate to posts like the one Gary has started here. Having easy to define and understand hooks, are going to be a very important part of GETTING AND KEEPING ATTENTION. If you don’t do that as a writer or artist, you are already WAY BEHIND THE GAME.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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