• Announcements

    • Songstuff

      New Chat App   06/02/2017

      We have a new chat app available. You will need to sign up for it. You can pick up the invite link at the top of your member hub page:   http://forums.songstuff.com/member/hub/   Remember to use your Songstuff registered email and user name when you sign up! Using the invite link will automatically add you to the Songstuff chat channel.
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

The Story Behind The Song (Don’t Lie To Yourself)



“Don’t Lie To Yourself" was written & recorded back in 2002. I filed the copyright as a single work, rather than a collection.

Time was of the essence, since I was entering my very first songwriting contest. The "Billboard World Song Contest".

Since the Billboard was one of the larger contests, I had no idea what to expect.

While it didn't win, it didn't go completely un-noticed.


Blog article attachment


The Idea

My songs typically evolve from one of 4 starting points:

- a chord progression

- a riff/pattern

- a section of melody

- a central theme


When I began writing “Don’t Lie To Yourself”, there wasn‘t much to work with.

· A simple chord progression I liked, which evolved into my chorus section.

· The hook (title) – “Don’t Lie To Yourself” and a tentative melody for that one line.

That was about it!


Subject Matter

Titles like this one paint a clear picture of the intended message. Simply put, it’s lyrical advice – “be honest with yourself”.

Typically, lyrics with a ‘telling” tone are discouraged in songwriting circles. Folks don’t enjoy being told what to do, or how to think….even in a song.

Regardless, I decided to make an exception.

The hook line….

· flowed nicely

· was memorable

· contributed to the overall mood I was hoping to achieve

Since the title was my central message, the chorus sections were used to re-enforce that message and expand upon the “whys”. Both repetition & harmony proved useful in that process.

The verse sections for this song were written last. The chorus was the message delivery vehicle, but something needed to set the stage for that message. That was the goal of the verses. They would be used to creatively describe the circumstances which gave that message importance.


Video Demonstration - Lead Guitar / Instrumental Verse (34 seconds long)



So, back to that lyrical message!

Here it is in a nutshell.


Regardless of what we’re taught as children, lying is one of those undesirable realities of life. The older we get, the clearer that becomes. In polite society, it goes by many names…. fabrication, mis-speaking, embellishment, selective omission, spin, stretching the truth. But when you strip away all the niceties, it comes down to varying degrees of the same thing – "something other-than the absolute truth".


Despite the fact that lying is such an ingrained part of our existence, we need to be honest with ourselves. The lie that you tell yourself is a sucker’s lie & YOU’RE the sucker!



Spend our lives…tellin’ tales

Stretch and bend…the truth

Learned that when…reality fails

A lie may do


But don’t lie to yourself

You’re the only one to lose

Don’t lie to yourself

A lie only a fool would choose


Life demands…shaded truths

Hype & spin…abound

As we grow…beyond our youth

Truth is rarely found


But don’t lie to yourself

You’re the only one to lose

Don’t lie to yourself

A lie only a fool would choose


Don’t lie to yourself

You’re the only one to lose

Don’t lie to yourself

A lie only a fool would choose

Copyright 2002- Tom Hoffman


Song Structure

Introduction / Verse / Chorus / Instrumental Verse (guitar solo) / Verse / Double-Chorus / Brief Ending


Musical Fundamentals

The song is set in the key of E minor….BPM 116

Unusual as it seems, the “introduction” was the last part added to this arrangement. What can I tell ya’? It happens!

Fortunately, I remembered a guitar didi I’d written the year before. It fit the song nicely, but I needed something to help merge it with the first verse. The solution was a single bass note, sounded on the last stroke of the intro section. In the final mix, that sustained note begins quietly, then gradually becomes louder.

That intro guitar didi I referred to consists of 2 separate acoustic guitar tracks. The first plays nothing but 2-note intervals.

The 2nd is comprised of open string harmonics, which generate an eerie texture.

For anyone interested, here's a copy of that 20 second intro. -  Don't Lie To Yourself intro..wav


The guitar arrangement for this song was a bit of an experiment. Other than bass, there are no electric guitar tracks. It contains 3 separate acoustic guitar tracks,

each performed on my trusty Yamaha…recorded through a condenser mic.

The simulated string track you hear wasn't in the original version. Back in 2002, keyboards weren't part of my musical arsenal. Some years later, in an effort to add diversity to the arrangement,

strings were added to the existing mix.

Real drums were used for this recording. The part itself employs both half-time & full-time beat structures.

- Half time is used exclusively until the 2nd chorus section.

- Both the 2nd & 3rd chorus sections are set in full-time.

- Finally, it switches back to half-time for the ending.


Final Production Notes

The recording was done on a Tascam PortaStudio 788.

It’s an 8-track digital recording deck, consisting of 6 mono & 1 stereo channels.

Blog attachment - Tascam PortaStudio 788

- Drums were recorded to the only stereo pair of tracks (7/8)

- Everything else went to single mono tracks....no doubling of any parts


Performance Credits

  • Drums, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboard Strings – Tom Hoffman
  • Vocals – Tom Hoffman

You Tube Video Version (*includes full song) - https://youtu.be/WcEvMjt3Ek0


Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile


The Story Behind The Song

1 Comment

I really like the fact that you aren't afraid to rock the boat of conventional thinking. I am not one to take much notice of the do's and don'ts. At the end of the day you have to go with what you feel is right. I can't count the number of songwriter/artists who broke convention and went with their gut feeling. Thank God for rebels in this industry because it's always rebels that push the boundaries of music and lyrics to new horizons.


1 person likes this

Share this comment

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now