Friday, April 30, 2010

Best Opening Lines

A couple years ago somebody ran an online poll asking people what they thought were the Greatest Opening Song Lines in rock 'n' roll history. I think it was BBC radio although it seems like I saw some organization in America did it too. That's a pretty broad category as there's so many to choose from. On this particular pole Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London took the number 1 spot with this opening lick, "Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand, walking through the streets of Soho in the rain, he was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's, going to get a big dish of beef chow mein".

I think I agree with that choice because it's a pretty freakin awesome opening line. The imagery it conjures up is amazing and it grabs you by the nads right off the bat and doesn't let go till the end of the song. For me, I think the criteria is how strong is it and what kind of emotion does it invoke. Sadly there are some on this particular top ten list that don't quite cut in my humble opinion. Here is the list so you can see what you think.

1. Warren Zevon - Werewolves Of London - "I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook's Going to get a big dish of beef chow mein."

2. Bill Haley - Rock Around The Clock - "One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock."

3. Jimi Hendrix - Hey Jo - "Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand."

4. Little Richard - Tutti Frutti - "A Wop Bop A Loo Bop A Lop Bam Boom!"

5. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird - "If I leave here tomorrow, Would you still remember me?"

6. Bruce Springsteen - Hungry Heart - "Got a wife and kids in Baltimore Jack I went out for a ride and I never went back."

7. ELO - Telephone Line - "Hello. How are you? Have you been alright, through all those lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights That's what I'd say. I'd tell you everything If you'd pick up that telephone."

8. Paul Simon - Kodachrome - "When I think back On all the crap I learned in high school It's a wonder I can think at all."

9. Morrissey - Every Day Is Like Sunday - "Trudging slowly over wet sand Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen."

10. Elvis Costello - Alison - "Oh it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl. And with the way you look I understand that you are not impressed."

While they are all admittedly great classic tunes I feel like numbers 234579 and 10 are not quite as good as many others that I can think of. So that is what today is about. I'm going to post a couple of my favorites and then maybe some readers can round out the list. Maybe even no one cares eh.

Pacing the Cage as recorded by Jimmy Buffett Lyrics by Bruce Cockburn

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward

Nowhere Road by Steve Earle
There's a road, in Oklahoma
Straighter than a preacher
Longer than a memory

Spare Me the Details by The Offspring
My girlfriend, my dumb donut
Went out to a party just the other night
But three hours later and seven shots of j├Ąger,
She was in the bedroom with another guy

Stay Free by The Clash
We met when we were in school
Never took no shit from no one, we weren't fools.

Somebody Saved Me by Pete Townshend
I stood at the door beside her
But she wouldn't let me pass
I was such a bore and I lied to her
I said I didn't really want her ass
Yalla Yalla by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Well, so long liberty
Let's forget you didn't show

So there's just a couple of my favorites that really deserve a top ten spot. They realy grab you and evoke some kind of emotion. I could easily list a lot more that deserve a spot. I figure maybe some folks have a few of their own favorites. Have a great weekend all.

Funny Toon


Anonymous said...

This is awesome! I've done a few "Best Lyrics" posts but I like this idea much more. Fun stuff...

Cheers from Korea!~

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Neil Young likes to talk about getting closer and closer to the source. Best opening line ever? God save the Queen and the fascist regime.

Anonymous said...

Most disturbing opening line of all time must be from Ian Dury's "Plaistow Patricia":

"Arseholes, bastards, fucking cunts and pricks!"

Listen to it here:

Anonymous said...

love this and agree but must include Josh Ritter's Kathleen in the mix. "all the other girls here are stars you are the northern lights"

Anonymous said...

Here are a few more that come to mind...

You can call me Halloween
I've known you girl since you were sweet thirteen
- Zodiac Mindwarp "Evil Jesus"

You love her, but she loves him
And he loves somebody else
You just can't win
- J. Geils Band "Love Stinks"

Some people call me a walkin' disaster
Just a-waitin' for a place to occur
- Frehley's Comet "Insane"

^^ I laughed out loud when I first heard that one!

Clayton Evans said...

Coincidence? I'm listening to Mr Strummer singing Yalla Yalla live at St Ann's Warehouse from 4/1/02. One of my favourites from The Mescaleros

homercat said...

Some great responses and some good lines. Maybe I'll do a most disturbing opening line somewhere down the road and I'm sure Ian Dury will make that list.

Rube Ambler said...

A great concept with some great examples. Just discovered you through hype machine because of your love for Montrose. No great openers there but a great record nonetheless. We agree with the commenter on Josh Ritter's "Kathleen" but we think this one from Josh is even better: "Peter said to Paul you know all those words we wrote Are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go" from Girl in the War on the album The Animal Years. Check it out. Best, Rube

Anonymous said...

ELO's Telephone Line opening has been stuck in my head for days and nights. Finally, figured it out. Haunting words.

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