What’s Your Opening Line? Courting Your Audience With Your Song

by Clay Mills
May 23, 2024

The opening line…

Next to the title or hook of your song, probably the single most important line you need to write is your opening line. Think of your song like a date, and your opening line like a first date with a potential love. You want to say something about yourself. Let your date know what you’re about. You want to sound interesting, BUT you want to leave a little mystery. When a listener hears your song (or goes on a date) for the first time, he or she is thinking, “What is this song/person about?” “Do I want to stick around for the whole song/date? Or do I want to cut it short after drinks and skip the song/dinner?”

SongTown - What's Your Opening Line?  Courting Your Audience With Your Song

A great opening line will commit your listener to staying through the whole song.

One of my favorite opening lines is in a Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss duet called “Whiskey Lullaby” : “She put him out like the burning end of a midnight cigarette.” Wow! After a line like that, I had to listen! And it’s a perfect opening line. It says that she’s dumped him and his life is over like a finished cigarette. This one line takes my mind so many places at once that I almost don’t have to hear the rest of the song. I know I’m going to love it. It draws me in and I am committed to the story.

On the opposite end of a spectrum

A bad line will make the listener uncomfortable, bored, or confused. It leaves the rest of the song little room to recover. Much like meeting someone in a bar; cliche lines, trying to impress, and not being real are the quickest ways to lose your audience. So today, let’s all focus on writing great opening lines. Your song will thank you! And who knows? You might just get lucky and write a hit!

What’s your favorite opening line? Write On!
Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.


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