Seven Things You Need to Know About the Song You’re Singing

  1. The official title
  2. Who wrote it
  3. Who’s version you’ve been inspired by
  4. What the original key is
  5. What key you sing it in
  6. What the groove or time signature is
  7. The tempo in beats per minute


  1. Title – You might think it’s “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” but it’s not. It’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, and someone will bust you for calling it “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”
  2. Songwriter – Sometimes it’s not the person you think. For example, a lot of people probably think that Patsy Cline wrote “Crazy,” but guess what! It was Willie Nelson.
  3. Version – Most people know the Talking Heads song “Take Me to the River,” but Al Green wrote it, and a band might play that version if you call the song.
  4. Original key – You can go online to and find out or ask a musician.
  5. Your key – Work with a professional or figure it out yourself, but the original key is not always the best for everyone to sing.
  6. Groove – Grooves have names like swing, shuffle, funk, and rock. If you don’t know the name of the groove, you can at least use the time signature like 4/4 or 12/8.
  7. Tempo – Either check the sheet music on to see if they’ve included it on the first page or use a bpm app to tap along to the song to find out what it is.

Here’s an example of a chart Ted Ervin and I wrote with all those items right at the top: