There’s a book called “The Tree“–a great read, that I highly recommend–and in it author Colin Trudge touches on a concept that is inextricably tied to music. That topic is The Name.
What we call things affects how we perceive them, it’s as simple as that. Take this quote from the book:
“The way we define natural things influences the way we treat them–whether we speak of wildflowers or weeds, of Mrs. Tittlemouse or ofvermin. But in the end nature is as nature is, and we must just try with different degrees of feebleness, and for our own purposes, to make what sense of it we can.”
I have always argued that the title of a song can affect how much we like it. There’s a song by Dave Matthews Band called “You Never Know.” The song is alright, and the words “you never know” are not found anywhere in the lyrics. There’s one line that comes close, but that’s it. In fact, the portion of the song that is unarguably the chorus repeats the word “dream.” I realized I think I would like the song much more if it were called “Dream.” I don’t know why, but I think it would affect how I think about the song, and the connections I make to the lyrics.
There are examples of the opposite effect: Paul Simon’s song “The Boy in the Bubble.” The title is heard once in the song, during the end of the last verse. The song may very well have been named “These Are The Days (Of Miracle and Wonder)” or something of the sort, but I don’t think I would like it as much.
I imagine everyone’s opinion for specific songs/titles will be different, but it’s an interesting concept to keep in mind. And for any songwriters it’s a heads up to name your songs carefully…