Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 10 Opening Lyrics (Ever): Part 1 of ?. #10 - #7

Although it tends toward the well played and the popular, toward the hall of fame and the textbook, it's hard to argue with most of [Spinner's top 25 opening lyrics ever]( Now I wouldn't put "She's a very kinky girl" at the top of my list but I see its appeal and would likely put it in my top 25 opening lyrics as of 25 years ago. Human League's "She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar" is a gem though it is undone by its ludicrous follow-up line: "that much is true." Come on, League, you've uttered one entire line - do you realy need to reiterate that it's "true"? We never thought you were lying. Speaking of that line, who the hell calls it a "cocktail bar?"

Elsewhere on the list: "Don't call it a comeback" is made even more powerful by its follow-up: "I've been here for years." But LL has a better one and it'll be on my list. Prince says "I was dreaming when I wrote this" and that's evocative and all. But then he challenges you to sue him if he goes too fast. Prince, you're eight seconds into the song. We have no idea if you're going too fast.

And: It's hard to argue with stalwarts like "Hello darkness, my old friend" and "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips." But I wish the creators of this list had left more room for more recent openers. We did just go through the greatest 15-year period in the history of music. But this is the internet and I can make my own list. I can make a better list. But...I have a job so I'm only giving you 10.

Top 10 Opening Lyrics (Ever): Part 1 of ?. #10 - #7

10. "I sit alone in my four-cornered room , staring at candles."
Mind Playin' Tricks On Me - Geto Boys
Let's dispense with the obvious: Most rooms have four corners. The fact that the claustrophobic closing-in room of paranoid nightmares also has four walls probably doesn't need to be specified. But there's an attempt here to evoke a crazy, unreasonable kind of madness, one that will get anyone into deep trouble if it - the madness - goes too far. But when Scarface delivers the zinger - and I bet he called it a zinger - "staring at candles" we know he's in deep. We know the candles aren't there for romance or ambiance - they're there because he either doesn't want to turn on the lights for fear that the cameras in the bulbs will more accurately catch his movements OR he didn't pay the electric bill.

If you think of the four parts of this song as songs in themselves, you've got four awesome openers. Willie D. strikes a pose for positivity with *I make big money. I drive big cars." (Aside: How the hell did Willie D. get a singing part in Geto Boys? He stumbles over his own words, he lisps randomly, his attempts to go fake-crazy fall flat, and when he says he's paranoid, he doesn't remotely believe it.)_ In verse 3, Scarface comes back with "Day by day it's more impossible to cope." Hend proceeds to blow us away with his expressions of a dual mad love/crazy hate for his girl. Finally, in verse 4, Bushwick Bill delivers the line that would have made the top 5 of this list if it had started the song: "This year Halloween fell on a weekend."

9. "If I see you tomorrow, I don't know what I will do."
Drive To Dallas - The Fiery Furnaces
This is one you have to listen to: the complete utter limitless certainty that the singer holds that she will not be seeing this person tomorrow oozes through the line, as she repeats and repeats and repeats. She will NOT be driving to Dallas. She will NOT be driving to Dallas witrh blurry eyes ever again. Why? She doesn't know what she will do. Good a reason as any.

8. It's four in the morning, the end of December

Famous Blue Raincoat - Leonard Cohen
Handwritten letters didn't have time stamps. Hence, the need for context as L. Cohen makes a song out of a letter written from one old friend to another - old friends that had been better friends before the letter recipient took the letter writer's train-waiting woman away from him. But think about this for a second: 4AM. Why is he writing a letter so late (not early)? And it's the end of December. Must be cold as hell - that music on Clinton Street is coming from cars or apartments, not the street. He didn't say New Years' Eve. He didn't say Christmas. So it was one of those in-between (secular) holidays days that lengthen that joyous season beyond its capacity.

7. "I come back to town today."
Turtledove - Trip Shakespeare
What an opening line on the opening song of what is essentially the opening album of Trip Shakespeare's career. (Yes they had an album prior to this but this one is miles ahead - streets ahead - if you will. Shortly after he announces his arrival back in town, Matt Wilson mentions "I've been on the highway for days." Meaning -give him a meal. Let him take a shower. With a clean soft towel and moisturizing body wash. I listened to this song over and over again as I made my triumphant summer of 1991 return to Minneapolis. I played it on a boombox in the U-Haul. I would leave Minneapolis quietly eight months later, the soundtrack to that departing trip unremembered, unrecorded.

(top 6 coming soon)

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