Friday, April 15, 2011

Rejected Song Titles

Non-creative people often misunderstand the creative process; they assume that a work of art, literature, or music just plops out of an artist fully formed, much like a good bowel movement. But it doesn't work that way. Producing great art requires long hours of hard work and many revisions. Below, I've listed some preliminary draft titles of what are now famous songs, to help illustrate this point.

Written & performed by: Ashford & Simpson
First Draft: Solid as a Gummiworm
Second Draft: Solid as an Old Rickety Chair
Third Draft: Solid as a Soapstone Statue 
Final Title: Solid as a Rock
Written by: Kipner/Shaddick
Performed by: Olivia Newton-John
First Draft: Let's Get Emotional and then Blame it On Our Period
Third Draft: Let's Pretend That I'm Going to Get Physical, But We Both Know I'm a Tease Who Will Pull Back at the Last Second
Ninth Draft: Ok, Let's Get Physical, But You Have to Get Me Drunk First
Final title: Let's Get Physical
Written by: Bob Dylan
Most famously performed by: The Byrds
First Draft: Salutations, Electronic Bagpipe Person
Second Draft: Hello There Euphonium Dude
Third Draft: Hey Mr. Harpischord Guy
Final Title: Hey Mr. Tamborine Man
Written by: Prince
Performed by: Prince & the Revolution
First Draft: Chartreuse Precipitation
Fifth Draft: Aqua Snowflakes
11th Draft: Violet Sleet
Final Title: Purple Rain
Written by: Otis Redding
Most famously performed by: Aretha Franklin
First Draft: Grudging Tolerance, With an Almost Imperceptible Tinge of Condescension
Sixth Draft: Basic Acceptance, With a Few Minor Reservations
Tenth Draft: Unconditional Positive Regard
Final Title: Respect
Written by: Whitfield/Strong
Most famously performed by: Marvin Gaye
First Draft: I Discerned It Through My Powers of Telepathy
Seventh Draft: I Accidentally Saw It Through a Crack in the Ladies Room Door
Eighth Draft: No, Really, I Wasn't Looking On Purpose
Final Title: I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Written & Performed by: U2
First Draft: You Know, I Still Haven't Figured Out What in the World Bono Has to be Arrogant About
70th Draft: I Still Haven't Found the Street Corner with the Best 'Hos
113th Draft: I Still Haven't Found My Wallet That I Lost the Other Night When I Was Drunk
Final Title (written by ghost writer hired by distraught record company execs): I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Sometimes--very rarely, mind you, but it does happen--songwriters get lucky, or receive divine inspiration, and nail a song title on the first try. Such was the case with a track by the Rolling Stones: "You Can't Always Get What You Want, Unless You are a Rock Star, High-Level Politician, or Corporate Executive... Then, It's Pretty Much All Cake".

However, the Stones' A&R man insisted that the song title be cut short so that it would fit onto record labels and radio station playlists. So, even when inspiration strikes, artists still have a tough time getting their unadulterated work into their audience's hands and up their ear canals.


Post a Comment