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The Story Behind The Song ("Don't Lie To Yourself")

“Don’t Lie To Yourself" was written & recorded in 2002.

(*Song title is a video link, allowing you to open it as a 2nd tab & listen as you read.)


The Idea


When I began the writing process, there wasn't much to work with.

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

· The hook (title) – “Don’t Lie To Yourself” with a tentative melody for those 4 words.

That was 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.

It seems that people don’t enjoy being told what to do…even in a song. ;)

Regardless, I decided to make an exception.

In my mind, the title’s strengths outweighed its weaknesses.

It was memorable, flowed nicely & would contribute to the mood I was hoping to achieve.


Since the title was my central message, chorus sections were used to re-enforce that message & expand upon the “whys”.


Verse sections were written last. They were used to set the stage…creatively describing why the chorus message (lyrical hook) was important.


Lyrical message in a nutshell



Regardless of what we’re taught as children, lying is one of the undesirable realities of life. The older we get, the clearer that becomes.

It goes by many names in polite society…fabrication, mis-speaking, embellishment, selective omission, spin & stretching the truth.

But once you strip away the niceties, it boils down to varying degrees of one thing – "something other-than the absolute truth".



Although lying is an ingrained part of our existence, we need to be honest with ourselves. Self-delusion benefits no one…least of all “you”.



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 thing added to this arrangement.

What can I tell ya’? It happens! :rolleyes:

Fortunately, I recalled a guitar didi that I’d stumbled upon the year before. It fit the texture of the song, but I needed something to merge it with the first verse.

My solution was a single bass note, sounded on the last count of the intro. In the final mix, that note begins quietly, then grows into the verse…gradually becoming louder.


That intro guitar didi 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.

The guitar arrangement for this song was a bit of an experiment. Other than bass, there are no electric guitars.

It contains 3 separate acoustic guitar tracks, each performed on my trusty Yamaha & recorded through an MXL condenser mic.




The simulated strings you hear weren’t part of my original version. I had no keyboard capability back then.

They were added to the existing 2-track master a few years later.


Real drums were used. 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 deck, consisting of 6 mono & 1 stereo channels.




 - 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

Supplemental Video (50 sec. clip of guitar solo portion) - https://youtu.be/vHfuWSaYYYI


Tom Hoffman
"About Me" Muse Member pg.

Tom Hoffman YouTube


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