Cliches are well – cliche. They’re predictable, boring, and not something your ears perk up for . . . except when done in a way that gives them a twist.
“A Guy Walks Into A Bar,” written by Melissa Peirce, Jonathan Singleton and Brad Tursi (Old Dominion), is a great example of how a common, worn out line can turn into something unique. And, it does so despite being restricted to an often over-used scene in current country songs (no, not a truck tailgate).
V | C | V | C | INST | C OUT
What Makes It Work?
Tyler Farr’s voice and delivery on this song are a big part of making it successful, but the lyrics and progression of the storyline really keep the listener in the song, and most importantly, tied to the main theme: heartbreak.
By making the song first person, you know you’re in the speaker’s head. He’s trying to work it out for himself. Because the lyric is self-deprecating, so it never sounds like anyone’s judging him.
It’s a 3 chord song – that’s it!
The G to F change is there for texture, not because the song really makes a melodic shift. Farr’s vocal delivery and the line structure/word breaks are what give the song unique qualities, not a flurry of chord changes.
The first line immediately ties to the hook
It doesn’t try and set a scene – the title does that. And, if you don’t know the title, it still works, because on it’s own, it’s a great first line: “The jokes on me, and it ain’t funny” – you know something bad’s about to happen.
You’ll notice that most of the words that rhyme are pretty simple. They’re not uber-clever tidbits of the English language: like rhyming dramatic with matches or reputation with generation – which work for Mama’s Broken Heart, but would negatively impact this song.
It’s use of tightly packed, simple words help move you through the song without drawing attention to them, creating a cadence. The rhymes only cause you to pause when the songwriters want you to – neat trick.
Lyric Structure & Rhyme Pattern Keep It Moving
In the lyrics below I’ve highlighted internal rhyme and end rhymes to give you a sense of the rhyme pattern.
“A Guy Walks Into A Bar” Lyrics
(1) The joke’s on me and it ain’t funny . [A]
(2) Everybody but me could see the punch line coming – [A]
(3) a mile away . [B]
(4) I’ve heard it so many times I can tell it to the T, [C]
(5) Believe me I could sell it – [C]
(6) all day . [B]
It goes . . .
A guy walks into a bar , [D]
orders a drink , [E]
Sees a girl that catches his eye , [F]
Asks her if she wants another . [G]
They fall for each other [G]
And end up lovers . [F]
They laugh, cry, hold on tight , [F]
Make it work for a little while . [F]
Then one night her taillights [F]
Fade out into the dark , [D]
And a guy walks into a bar . [D]
(1) I’d laugh too if my heart would let me . [H]
(2) Keeping it light will probably help to get me – [H]
(3) over you , [I]
(4) I’m walking, talking, drinking proof , [I]
(5) A cliché in a corner booth – [I]
(6) Ain’t nothing new . [I]
A guy walks into a bar ,
Orders a drink ,
Sees a girl that catches his eye ,
Asks her if she wants another .
They fall for each other and end up lovers .
They laugh, cry, hold on tight ,
Make it work for a little while .
Then one night her taillights Fade out into the dark ,
And a guy walks into a bar .
A guy walks into a bar
A guy walks into a bar
Songwriters: Melissa Peirce, Jonathan Singleton and Brad Tursi