Hook (Blues Traveler song)

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This article is about the Blues Traveler song. For musical "hooks" in general, see Hook (music).
Blues Traveler - Hook.jpg
Single by Blues Traveler
from the album Four
Released 1995
Format CD
Recorded Summer 1994
Genre Rock
Length 4:49
Label A&M
Writer(s) John Popper
Blues Traveler singles chronology
"The Mountains Win Again"

"Hook" is a song by the jam band Blues Traveler, from their 1994 album Four. The song peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The title of the song is a reference to the term hook: "A hook is a musical idea, often a short riff, passage, or phrase, that is used in popular music to make a song appealing and to "catch the ear of the listener".[1] The lyrics are a commentary on the banality and vacuousness of successful pop songs, making "Hook" both a hit song and a satire of a hit song.


The chord progression of "Hook" is very similar to the basic structure of Pachelbel's Canon in D,[2][3] (D-A-Bm-F#m-G-D-G-A, or I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V).[4] This chord progression is very widely used in popular music, often as the hook, leading to other satirical takes on the use of this chord structure.[5]

There are several allusions in the song, one to the story of Peter Pan and his nemesis Captain Hook "no matter how much Peter loved her, what made the Pan refuse to grow, was that the Hook brings you back".


The song's lyrics, aimed directly at the listener, assert that the lyrical content of any song is effectively meaningless, as the song's musical hook will keep listeners coming back, even if they are unaware of the reason. In the introduction, John Popper sings:

"It doesn't matter what I say / So long as I sing with inflection / That makes you feel that I'll convey / Some inner truth of vast reflection."

This is followed by more lyrics about how he has nothing to say. These lyrics are a satirical take on the formulaic way popular music is generated. Further on in the song however, the lyrics become even more blatant, claiming that formulaic music is an easy way to make money "When I’m feeling stuck and need a buck/ I don’t rely on luck, because/ the hook brings you back...”

The musically "lazy" chord structure viewed in combination with the meta-lyrics reveal the true extent of the song's "genius": "the commentary is a big joke about how listeners will like just about anything laid on top of the chords of the infinitely clichéd Pachelbel canon, even lyrics that openly mock them for liking it."[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Frank W. Ockenfels and depicts a man, played by game show host Ken Ober, channel surfing through late-night television. On every channel different people are lip synching to "Hook", including beauty contestants, a Charles Foster Kane-type politician, and Paul Shaffer on keyboards.[6] Shaffer also played keyboards on the second track off the album Four, entitled "Stand."

The man ultimately turns off his television and reads a book about the U.S. Civil War.


Year Chart Peak
1996 Top 40 Mainstream 8
1995 Modern Rock Tracks 13
1995 Mainstream Rock Tracks 15
1996 Adult Top 40 22
1996 The Billboard Hot 100 23
1996 Adult Contemporary 28

Year-end charts[edit]

  • U.S. Billboard Hot 100 #23 [7]


  1. ^ Covach, John (2005). "Form in Rock Music: A Primer". In Stein, Deborah. Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-19-517010-5. 
  2. ^ Something Of Substance: Blues Traveler "Hook" at the Wayback Machine (archived August 19, 2011)
  3. ^ Songfacts: "Hook" by Blues Traveler
  4. ^ a b Guendelsberger, Emily (August 7, 2012). "Why "Hook" by Blues Traveler is actually a pretty genius work of metafiction". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM
  6. ^ Music Video on YouTube
  7. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1996". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 

External links[edit]