Monday, December 10, 2007

Lists! The Top 11 Greatest Opening Lyrics from Great Debut Albums

For your convenience and enjoyment, we at middleCoast have here compiled a list of the Top 11 Greatest Opening Lyrics from some of the Greatest Debut Albums of all time. Why 11 you ask? Cuz we rawk like Spinal Tap, you dig?

Number 11
Artist: The Velvet Underground
Debut Album: The Velvet Underground & Nico
Year: 1967
Song: "Sunday Morning"
Opening Lyric: "Sunday Morning, praise the dawning / It's just a restless feeling by my side"
Reason for Greatness: Few audiences in the late 60s could comprehend what The Velvet Underground would mean to musicians and hipsters of the coming generations. "Sunday Morning" introduces The Underground into our collective consciousness with the dawning of a new morning, immediately followed by apprehension. While most people seem to find Sunday mornings easy (or else Lionel Richie's metaphor is completely unfounded), Lou Reed awakens restlessly and with a sense of paranoia disguised as dreamy pop. Perhaps it's this contradiction that put The Velvet Underground so far ahead of its time.

Number 10
Artist: Van Halen
Debut Album: Van Halen
Year: 1978
Song: "Runnin' With the Devil
Opening Lyric: "I live my life like there's no tomorrow"
Reason for Greatness: Clearly Van Halen were not terribly interested in their future, as this classic opening lyric exhibits. More precisely, they concentrated on pursuing all the decadence and pleasure the rock 'n roll lifestyle carried with it - ya know, like trying to keep pace with Satan and such. Eddie Van Halen decided it was time to melt everyone's face off, David Lee Roth decided that Rock needed a new party boy, and the rest of us decided that we liked Van Halen better when they didn't take themselves so damned seriously.

Number 9

Artist: The Byrds
Debut Album: Mr. Tambourine Man
Year: 1965
Song: "Mr. Tambourine Man"
Opening Lyric: "Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me, I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to"
Reason for Greatness: Since Bob Dylan didn't officially make our list, we worked the poet in here anyway via The Byrds' version of the classic, "Mr. Tambourine Man". An opening lyric that, quite possibly, every warm-blooded American over the age of fourteen can sing along to. The tumultuous 1960s kept many people in a continual state of flux, and the music of the time permeated every cultural and political event as the one constant. The Byrds characteristically represent the idea that it's worth the while to just sit and listen to at least one more song.

Number 8

Artist: Guns N' Roses
Debut Album: Appetite for Destruction
Year: 1987
Song: "Welcome to the Jungle"
Opening Lyric: "Welcome to the jungle"
Reason for Greatness: For any small town kid moving to the big city, "Welcome to the Jungle" is their theme song at some point in time. Simultaneously frightening and disturbing, the song is both a reason to stay away and a reason to move immediately to the constant stimuli of big city life. Add to that the wild animal-like behavior of GNR band members (we're looking in your direction, Axl), and the opening lyric of Appetite's opening track is truly appropriate.

Number 7

Artist: Pink Floyd
Debut Album: The Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Year: 1967
Song: "Astromy Domine"
Opening Lyric: "Lime and limpid green a second scene"
Reason for Greatness: Combining both the poetry and the drug-induced insanity that would embody the band, Syd Barrett's opening certainly sets the scene for what was to come. And what followed was one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time. While Pink Floyd went on to find success in various reincarnations sans Barrett, we can still picture him floating through the soundless vacuum of space: the Little Prince bouncing from planet to planet.

Number 6

Artist: Beastie Boys
Debut Album: Licensed to Ill
Year: 1986
Song: "Rhymin & Stealin"
Opening Lyric: "Because mutiny on the bounty's what we're all about"
Reason for Greatness: For over 20 years now, the Beasties have maintained their Mutineer status - doing whatever they want whenever they want, taking orders from no one. Few artists have stayed so true to where they started while simultaneously evolving with the times. They took control of the ship from the word go, and the rest of us have been following in their wake ever since.

Number 5

Artist: The Stone Roses
Debut Album: The Stone Roses
Year: 1989
Song: "I Wanna Be Adored"
Opening Lyric: "I don't have to sell my soul / He's already in me"
Reason for Greatness: Owning up to the fact that rock 'n roll is the devil's music, Roses lead singer Ian Brown one-ups original rocker and bluesman Robert Johnson's pact with Lucifer by claiming that (from the very beginning) selling his soul isn't even necessary. Brown's arrogance became his calling card, and though The Stone Roses only released one other album as a cohesive band, this cocksure debut has become monumentally influential ever since.

Number 4

Artist: The Clash
Debut Album: The Clash
Year: 1977 (UK Release)
Song: "Janie Jones"
Opening Lyric: "He's in love with rock n' roll"
Reason for Greatness: Few bands transformed the rock n' roll genre like The Clash. The opening track of their eponymous debut tells the story of a young man who hates his boring job, and just wants to love his girlfriend, have a good time, and listen to rock n' roll. Times change, but they also stay the same. Thirty years later and a new generation relates and understands - and that is the definition of Classic.

Number 3

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Debut Album: Are You Experienced?
Year: 1967
Song: "Purple Haze"
Opening Lyric: "Purple haze all in my brain / Lately things just don't seem the same"
Reason for Greatness: The definitive psychedelic rock album from the 1960s, Are You Experienced? opens with a popular sentiment among hippies and squares alike. By 1967 the Vietnam War, along with it's accompanying draft and protests, had left the nation confused and scattered. While Jimi's mind-blowing guitar work gets most of the attention, his songwriting abilities set the framework to allow the feedback, distortion, and sonic blasts to take shape. "Purple Haze" remains one of the greatest songs of all time because of the electricity present in both the music and the lyrics.

Number 2

Artist: Joy Division
Debut Album: Unknown Pleasures
Year: 1979
Song: "Disorder"
Opening Lyric: "I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand"
Reason for Greatness: Unknown Pleasures contains such passion and energy, and such utter despair, it is only fitting that Ian Curtis starts out with a plea for help. A tortured soul, no doubt Curtis could've used a hand. Tortured or not, though, most of us happen to feel the same way. Such begins our connection to Joy Division, relating to some of the darker emotions they personify. Turns out that for us, Curtis and Joy Division are just the guides we've been looking for.

Number 1

Artist: Led Zeppelin
Debut Album: Led Zeppelin (I)
Year: 1969
Song: "Good Times Bad Times"
Opening Lyric: "In the days of my youth / I was told what it means to be a man"
Reason for Greatness: Led Zeppelin exploded onto the rock n' roll scene in 1969 and forever altered the face of music, leaving it burned and disfigured. Rock blatantly stole from the blues, and Led Zeppelin was possibly the greatest burglar of them all. Musically and lyrically, their entire catalog is imbued with the blues. What they built from that foundation, though, was like the first skyscraper - towering above the rest in brazen glory. Our introduction to Zeppelin appears at first (and was likely written) simply as a standard blues line. Looking back now through the lens of history, however, we see that this lyric encapsulates that epoch of change. What it meant to be a man in the late 1950s and early 1960s undoubtedly had very little to do with what its meaning became in the late '60s and 1970s, and through today. The power, spirit, sexuality, and raw energy incarnated by Led Zeppelin helped make this so. What kind of man do you want to be?


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