Top Ten Opening Lines
Updated: Dec 25, 2019
A song that grabs you by the nuts (or whatever Donald Trump said he does) with the explosive and endearing opening gambit. Never easy, as you have a rhyming scheme, subject, and melody or beat in sync with it. Tell me your top tens, or number ones in the comments section. Click here to see the original posting from the team at nicely put that caused all of the trouble!
There are, firstly, three standards of dress code to get past the velvet rope: First, the lyrics must mean something to you, and be relateable. Not looking for flouncy language or "meaningful" prose. Sorry Mr Wire but Culture make suck downwards, it may itemised love and faded sub smiles or something. That is not for us. We are not looking for a slogan for art folder, or something to spray an underpass with. Second, it must make you want to carry on listening. To make you want to know what they will say next. Thirdly, you have to be able to hear it. Not to sound like my mother, but If you have to look up the words, then you are not on the list at Club Nicely Put. Our musical philosophy is described in this article about selling out
10:Candle In The Wind: Elton John (1973) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road/MCA
"Goodbye Norma-Jean. Though I never, knew you at all, you had the grace to hold yourself, while those around you fall."
I like a few Elton tunes, but for the most part I think he is a tit. However, what I love is the choice of subject matter here. What a passionate, heartfelt, and original choice. Subject matters for tribute are normally so trite and banal. Why do people choose Martin Luther King? Oh he is black, that shows how wordly I am. Never thinking or knowing enough to choose Steve Biko, Stokely Carmichael, or Mary Seacole. They will choose John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Nelson Mandela wash, rinse, tranqulise. Yet, here, we hear: "Goodbye Norma Jean". Softening and humanising the celebrated, and loved supernova who imploded due to pressures from those who wanted bits of her to suit individual needs. Here is Elton. A rising megastar. Regressing to ardent worshiper in front of his own fans. I have always loved something about this.
9:Fuck Tha Police: NWA(1988)Straight Outta Compton/ Priority/Ruthless Records.
"Fuck the police coming straight from the underground. A young nigga got it bad cause I'm brown"
As my other blog will attest, I am not a fan of abusing the police. Still, I am not black, and I do not live in South-Central L.A. I call it welcome, compared to the strangely ignored violent misogyny of the now cuddly-cute-murderous-megastar Calvin Broadus a.k.a Snoop dah-dah-dah . We must also offer respect for the grits it took to sing it. Here in the UK where we do not claim to have freedom of speech, it may get banned, or a bit of a Fleet St backlash, in America, they were beaten, jailed, threatened with federal mandate, and hit financially for it. Yet they still sang it. It was in no way calculated . We want to hear more. These were no tourists. Ice Cube may be closer to Mr Rogers now, and I would like to reiterate my lifelong position of how my admiration does NOT stretch to "Doctor Dray" who is a woman-beating dispicable thug. Notwithstanding, if what we are told is true It truly sounds as if L.A's finest deserved this.
8. Belle et la Bete: Babyshambles (2005) Down in Albion/ Rough Trade
"I'll tell you a story but you won't listen, about a nightmare steeped in tradition, its a story of a coked-up pansy, who spends his nights in flights of fancy"
I used to worship the once-great Peter Doherty. So I could pick from many of his rich lyrical patterns, although, revisiting the rule about pretentious poetry, does somewhat limit us. This is one of the most important albums in my world, and this song also highlights the severe dangers of drugs. Letting Kate Moss sing solo on the track must have been a post-pipe-proposition. The irony cited by many is the song title. Kate was seen as the beauty, warped and twisted into the narcotic haze by the charismatic young beast, Pete. Which I believe we can safely label as bollocks. Kate Moss was a hard-drug veteran long before Peter was even heard of. Plus she can't sing for shit. That Peter often has his talent forgotten, that has to be mostly his own fault though. He is no martyr. He wrote his own ticket
Whilst next to the rest of the album, this is not one of the better songs, it is without doubt lyrically superb.
7. Cigarettes and Alcohol: Oasis (1994) Definitely Maybe Creation Records
"Is it my imagination, or have we finally found, something worth working for"
The post shoe-gazing, "Theres no uvva way", floppy-haired greenery and the Neds Atomic Dustbin/EMF/Wonder Stuff-led British sag in music and cultural bombast, which was being matched on the world stage by our feeble football flimsiness, was everywhere and it was getting to be a drag. We didn't go to the World Cup, we lost to America, to a goal scored by a hippy singer. Maybe that fuelled the reckoning. Move over Spin Doctors, f**k off Stereo MC's, goodbye The Shamen. The beatniks were a spent "force" and granola and Laudanum were out. Fist-fights and cocaine were in because the Gallagher's were here. Now love them or loathe Liam, you have to say: What a line. Optimistic, whilst still being flippant and irreverent. We are sick of your moaning, this is gonna work for us. God help if you get in our way. Euro 96 was coming.......Would Three Lions have worked if instead of Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, it was sung by Robert Elms, Germaine Greer, and Carter USM? Maybe. Regardless Oasis, whatever (oh yeah, I did that) you think of them, gave this world the punch in the windpipe it needed. It jump-started British culture, for a few years of absolute mayhem and fantastic times. Then there was an election and......
6.Blackbird: The Beatles (1968) The Beatles / Apple
"Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly"
"Take these broken wings and learn to fly"!!!!! Just brilliant. From the guy who supposedly struggled with LYRICS!? Fuck you Mister Mister, they are Paul's lines. I am not to keen on McCartney, his behaviour in the break-up, his overall persona, and his handling of Jackson stealing his music from under his nose. Notwithstanding, this is just superb and I will fight his corner on that till the day I die.
5. Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) The Darkness (2003) Permission to Land (Xmas Edition)/Must Destroy
"Feigning joy and surprise, over gifts we despise over mulled wine...with you"
Succinct and encompassing. From the band whose breakout single was not exactly a lyrical masterpiece, we get this perfect line. Wonderful and relatable lyrics covering the cynicism and the joy at Christmas, and how they compete in our souls, and how ultimately, that is why it matters. Happiness is a boxing match and it needs an opponent to win over. Personally I prefer it over the perfectly enjoyable, yet wildly overrated and critically untouchable Fairy Tale of New York. Time will tell.
4. Slap and Tickle: Squeeze (1979) Cool For Cats/A&M
"She was frigid like the bible when she met her boyfriend Michael"
For my money, Gifford and Tillbrook put Morrissey, Albarn, and most others to bed when it comes to lyrics. Up The junction, still by far the best story song ever, the album title track, just fantastic, and REM could only play up to it. They are called the successors to Lennon and McCartney, and it is hard for me to say, but they are better. You canot help wanting to know if Michael gets some. (Spoiler, yes he does)
3. Eton Rifles: The Jam (1979) Setting Sons/Polydor
"Sup up your beer and collect your fags, there's a row going on, down in Slough"
Angry young dude Paul Weller shows his engaging skills and wordsmith mettle with this great use of slang, neologism, and cultural identity in this true-to-life story of the striking union members, being jeered by Etonian toffs as they protested. The working class line turned their ire and frustration gladly on what they thought would be easy pickings. Sadly the public school chaps gave them a kicking., " As PW said, probably looking like he was mimicking a blow-job, his tongue was that firmly in his cheek: "all that rugby puts hairs on your chest, what chance have you got against a tie and a crest." In later years, Mr Weller dressed down ex-Etonian, PM David Cameron for saying it was his favourite song. Many accused Paul of reverse snobbery, if you don't have the same political stance or class ranking as the singer, you should still be able to enjoy the music. Yes, you should. UNLESS the Modfather says otherwise. So, sorry Dave,it is not for you. This song goes on with further engaging and fascinating aplomb. The best of the best when it comes to British post-war decline commentary.
2.Mis-Shapes: Pulp (1995) A Different Class/Island
"Mis-Shapes, mistakes, mis-fits. Raised on a diet of Broken Biscuits
From one of my favourite ever albums, and the most humourous songwriter of his generation. A masterpiece often overshadowed by the other A-side, which was banned, bafflingly so,for its clearly anti-drug message (I guess the instructions of how to make a speed wrap on the cover did not help.).
This is a song about small town divisions. So for me,that line is perfect. Seeing the older townies in a fearful haze from council estates as consumers of Happy Shopper standards, zero-culture, and a propensity to small-minded violence. The whole discography has more amazing words than I can count. This spoke to me more than anything ever did
Simon and Garfunkel: Homeward Bound
The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
The Libertines: Music When the Lights Go Out
Marvin Gaye: I Heard it Through The Grapevine
David Bowie: Diamond Dogs
John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth
The Beatles: Across The Universe
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA
The Stone Roses: Mersey Paradise
Neil Young: The Needle and the Damage Done
1: This Is Music: The Verve. (1994) A Northern Soul/Island Records
"I stand accused, just like you, of being born without a silver spoon."
Quite simply, Rock n Roll in less than twenty syllables. Aggressive, carefee, solid, unifying, and a fucking masterpiece of a song from my favourite Verve album. It was not as if the man with what someone once called "Not of this earth good looks", Richard Ashcroft, was short of perfection in the song stakes. The "B Side and Out Takes" album beats any charting indie album except maybe Oasis, The Monkeys, and The Libertines. Oasis' Cast No Shadow was written about him. Noel championed him from day one. Rightly so.
Special reason this song is my number one, even though it would be anyway. I spent years working for a pompous, spoiled, crooked, nepotism-soaked imbecilic closet-case, (to give you an idea, he once met Johnny Marr on soccer AM and didn't know who he was. Said he thought Marr was a prick because he fancied himself as some sort of star!
He exploited and abused me and countless others. One year,even used our pension money to pay the company bills. We all got a call from Scottish Equitable saying our pensions were suspended. We got the money back eventually. The one thing got me through all the years, even the Robert Maxwell tactics, and kept me smiling at him, was the fact that he could NEVER listen to this song and have it be a part of him. It belonged to me, and more importanatly, NOT to him, and others like him. That'll do
Anybody wants proof, I still have the letter where they admitted stealing our money.
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