Posted on 04/11/2011


I was listening to The Hook by Blues Traveler the other day. It’s one of my favorite songs from when I was younger. Hell, probably from today too.

As I listened to John Popper’s lyrics I saw how, not only did it apply to songs, but to book writing as well.

See, The Hook is a tongue-in-cheek song that actually makes fun of songs as a whole.  It’s a serious parody, which to me is brilliant. He’s actually poking a finger into the face of writing (whether it be books or a song) and how you can put NOTHING in a book, and if you’ve got a decent enough hook, people won’t know until it’s too late. *cough” The Road *cough*

See songs and books both have hooks. (And I am poet!–suck it, e.e. cummings!)

And we can be clear that a good hook is probably the most important part of any story. It’s what you sell your story on, it’s how you inform others about it and how you eventually get your stuff into the hands of those who can help you make money with your writing.

Here’s the song lyrics to The Hook  ©John Popper, with commentary.

Here’s a link to the song on youtube, in case you’ve never heard it before.

You may want to listen to the song before reading below, to make sure you “get it”. If you’ve never paid attention to the lyrics of this song (or never heard it at all!) then give it a listen and see if you get sucked into it…before reading the lyrics below.

I’ll wait.



Okay, now on with the lyrics.


The Hook

©John Popper

It doesn’t matter what I say

So long as I sing with inflection  (Here, Mr. Popper is telling us that it doesn’t matter how well the lyrics (or your writing in the book) are…as long as you write with a passion.

That makes you feel that I’ll convey

Some inner truth of  vast reflection  (Here, he’s saying that if you make the reader think you’re saying something worth reading (whether or not you really are) they will keep reading.)

But I’ve said nothing so far  (He pokes fun at his song saying he hasn’t said anything so far in the song, but you’re still listening)

And I can keep it up as long as it takes (Keep writing that story!)

And it don’t matter who you are

If I’m doing my job, it’s your resolve that breaks  (Here, he’s saying that if you as writer are doing your job, you can write about anything/nothing, and if you’ve got a good enough hook…)

Because the hook brings you back

I ain’t tellin’ you no lie

The hook brings you back

On that you can rely

There is something amiss

I am being insincere

In fact I don’t mean any of this  (Once again poking fun at the song again…but look what the next line says 🙂

Still my confession draws you near (You’re still listening to the song aren’t you? And if you didn’t know the words to the song, the shame’s on you–ha SUCKER!)

To confuse the issue I refer

To familiar heroes from long ago  (Here, he’s trying to say that if you add in something that sounds fancy or literary, people will read it even though it’s saying nothing…as in many of the so called literary novels I have read. (I’m looking at YOU Richard Ford!)

No matter how much Peter loved her

What made the Pan refuse to grow?  (Reference to Peter pan and his nemesis, Captain Hook…wink, wink)

Was that the hook brings you back

I ain’t telling you no lie

The hook brings you back

On that you can rely

Suck it in suck it in suck it in  (These next few lines, he goes on a very fast-paced rap style of singing. Try to sing along, if you can. It seems to me that he is trying to sing here about how he’s really singing about nothing, but yet, you’re still listening. And then he goes on to say that he may be screwing himself in the long run, but he can’t stand by and let it pass.)

If you’re Rin Tin Tin or Anne Boleyn  (Allegory)

Make a desperate move or else you’ll win

And then begin

to see

What you’re doing to me this MTV is not for free

It’s so PC it’s killing me

So desperately I sing to thee of love

Sure but also rage and hate and pain and fear of self

And I can’t keep these feelings on the shelf

I tried, well no in fact I lied

Could be financial suicide but I’ve got too much pride inside

To hide or slide

I’ll do as I’ll decide and let it ride until I’ve died

And only then shall I abide this tide

Of catchy little tunes

Of hip three minute ditties

I wanna bust all your balloons

I wanna burn all of your cities to the ground

I’ve found I will not mess around

Unless I play then hey

I will go on all day hear what I say

I have a prayer to pray

That’s really all this was

And when I’m feeling stuck and need a buck

I don’t rely on luck because  (Here’ I believe he is saying that when he needs money, he just comes up with a good hook…and away he goes!  Very true to writing too)

The hook brings you back

I ain’t tellin’ you no lie

The hook…

On that you can rely



The hook, yes it does bring you back doesn’t it?

Until next time.


Posted in: Writing