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).



Genre:  Country

Recorded:  2014

Time:  3:16

BPM:  148


V | C | V | C | INST | C  OUT

What Makes It Work?

Great Point Of View Choice

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.



Simplicity Keeps It From Being Comic

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.


Simple Rhymes

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



Add-On Phrase
In V1, the small add-on phrase “to the T” emulates the 3rd & 6th lines in V1 and is used to fill the measures across lines 4 & 5. This is a very cool way to make the lines sound less structured/repetitive in the song cadence. Notice it’s not used as an end rhyme though!


Hook Changes Meaning
The hook’s meaning changes in the chorus. While it’s used as a what we expect in the first line (a joke set up), the last use of it indicates a twist to the whole situation. It’s no longer a one-time occurrence – the speaker has a pattern of doing it, or at least does it again.


Triplets To Couplets
Line structures of 3 (triplets) are used in the verses, whereas the chorus is primarily composed of two line phrases (couplets), which creates contrast with verse.


No Bridge - Sort Of
The song uses an instrumental instead. What a great idea. Adding some overarching perspective here might have brought the whole thing to a comic tipping point.



Linking Of Phrases
The two pairs of 3-line triplets in V1 are joined by the [B] rhyme, creating a link between the two pairs and moving the listener through the verse quickly even though it’s a slow paced, almost plodding accompaniment with guitar down-strums.


Form Follows Function
In the chorus, the [F] rhymes build up and create a closed stanza within the chorus, emulating how you would tell a joke: here’s the story – stop/pause – now the punch line. The final two rhymed lines act as the punch line, and repeat the first line, acting as a frame for the chorus, but close the rhyme for the whole structural unit.


Different Pattern Same Line Structure
You might notice that V2 is different rhyme pattern than V1!  However, it follows the same line formula in terms of line structure. So while you still have two triplets, the two rhymed lines followed by four rhymed lines increases the pace slightly to the second chorus.


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