My Top 10 Favorite Song Intros

Harrison Control room

The Beatles in the control room, undoubtedly crafting another timeless song introduction.

Well, after an entire semester of no blog posts, I am making my triumphant blogging return with a post that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. For whatever reason, even before I became a Beatles fan, I’ve always been really intrigued by what makes a good song intro. The Beatles have many of them, of course, but there’s something about a really well-crafted intro to a song that can truly elevate the content of the entire song. There’s a saying about not judging a book by its cover that could technically also apply to “not judging a song by its intro,” but I almost feel that you should judge a song by its intro in many cases. Just like with a job interview, if your first impression about a song in the first few seconds is negative, you probably won’t want to stick around and listen to the rest.

With some songs, I actually prefer the instrumental intro to the song itself, if only because it ends up being more memorable for me. I also believe that a really good song intro immediately grabs the listener’s attention and makes it extremely difficult to change the song. So here I’ve decided to return to one of my favorite blog post formats, the ten-item list, and explain my reasons for choosing these ten songs as containing some of my favorite introductions.

10. Ready to Go- Republica

Though this admittedly is the only song I know by Republica, I have always been a big fan of this song’s intro. I’m a sucker for a song that starts with an acoustic intro that then segues into a biting electric guitar, and that’s exactly how this song begins. Just as a minor side note, I love when songs directly juxtapose a softer acoustic guitar sound with a harder electric guitar sound, one right after the other. It makes both sounds more interesting to listen to, and adds to the overall musical depth of an already awesome song.

9. My My, Hey Hey- Neil Young

Though I’m not hugely well-versed in Neil Young’s catalog, I’ve always really liked this song, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the haunting guitar riff that opens the song and continues throughout the song. This is among the more musically simple song intros on this list, but it goes along with my logic that a really well-crafted, memorable song intro can be as simple as a strum of an acoustic guitar.

8. All The Way From Memphis- Mott the Hoople

This is one of my favorite “rock piano” songs, written by a very underrated band from the 70s. The beginning is simple enough musically, but the driving, pounding piano beat stands alone as a very worthy introduction to a wonderful song. It’s a great example of how an energetic song intro can get the listener excited about a song long before the lyrics and guitar kick in.

7. Beauty and the Beast- David Bowie

Originally when I came up with the idea for this post, I thought of this song mostly as a placeholder, an example of a song with a cool intro that I could theoretically put on this list. However, as soon as this song popped into my head, I started listening to it more and more, and I realized that I actually really do love its intro a lot. Like with “All The Way From Memphis,” this song makes great use of a driving piano/keyboard intro that gradually layers with guitar, drums, and vocals until it explodes into the first verse.

6. Desecration Smile- Red Hot Chili Peppers

Whenever this song comes up on shuffle, I always end up playing it on repeat just to hear the intro over and over again. It’s all acoustic guitar and drums, but this instrumental sequence manages to convey so much emotion and sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the song. The moment when the first acoustic riff in the intro segues into the second is just beautiful, and the song as a whole is one of my favorites by them. This is one of the more musically subtle Chili Peppers songs I know, but with that, it’s also one of their most heartfelt, soothing tracks. This intro reminds me that the Chili Peppers, despite their sometimes wild exterior, really are master craftsmen of emotionally touching melodies.

 

 

5. Drive It Like You Stole It- Sing Street

I’ve already mentioned this movie briefly on this blog I believe, so once again, it’s packed with wonderful 80s-inspired musical goodness like this song. This starts with an awesome synth-packed punch and only gets better from there as the rest of the instruments kick in. More than any other song on this list, the intro for this song instantly makes me want to get up and dance. It’s so infectious and upbeat, and it’s a perfect culmination of the kids’ musical efforts throughout the movie.

4. Blow Away- George Harrison

This song was my morning alarm for quite some time, mostly because of the absolutely gorgeous, soothing intro that helped me ease into the day (I later changed my alarm song because this song was too relaxing and I kept sleeping through it…). There’s something about how this song begins that just sweeps you away into another world. Like so many George songs, it exudes love for this world without saying a word. This is 100% one of George’s best solo songs, and its lilting, somewhat melancholy yet also hopeful intro has a lot to do with that.

3. Coming of Age- Foster the People

For whatever reason, the intro to this song makes me feel nostalgic, but for nothing in particular. Maybe it’s because of the 80s-vibe that this entire song projects, similar to though less bouncy than “Drive It Like You Stole It.” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I always feel strangely emotional whenever I hear the beginning of this song, and I feel that if the first 10 or 20 instrumental seconds of a song can make me feel something, that certainly bodes well for the rest of the song.

2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- The Beatles

Much like with “Coming of Age,” the fascinating intro to this song is definitely my favorite part of the song, and I often wish I could just play the very beginning over and over whenever I hear it. The melody of this synth riff, which repeats throughout the song, is beautifully and perfectly constructed so that it comes across as almost hypnotic, which relates well to the song’s themes of mysterious voyaging. The Beatles had a masterful way of imbuing many lyrical themes from their songs into the construction of their instrumental melodies, this being perhaps the best example I can think of. It’s haunting, addictive, and some of the Beatles’ best work.

In case anyone is curious about the link I attached, it is often extremely difficult to find original Beatles songs on YouTube, so to hear the intro to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” from this Anthology track I found, go to 0:33 in the video link.

And finally… Without further ado…

1. Warrant- Foster the People

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my favorite intro to any song ever because I genuinely think it could stand on its own without the rest of the song and still be amazing. I don’t quite know how the beginning to this song came about, but the way it begins with an echoing chorus and gradually adds in the other instruments is just stunning to listen to, and something that I’ve rarely heard other bands do in recent albums. I’ve seen it compared to Zelda and other video game soundtracks, but I also find the choral opening to be very Beatles and ELO-esque, which might be why I always respond so positively to it. It’s hard to describe why this intro is so amazing, but whenever I hear it, I feel like I’m being transported to a fantasy world and then in an action-adventure music video. It’s probably the most cinematic intro on this list, but for an alternative rock/pop band that normally doesn’t do “cinematic,” I think it’s an extraordinary achievement.

So there you have it. Creating this list, and including “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” certainly got the gears turning in my head about my favorite Beatles song intros, which could easily be a whole separate post that I’ll have to write in the future. But for now, enjoy listening to these fantastic songs!

Advertisements

‘The Getaway’: A Soaring Musical Getaway For RHCP

the_getaway

Today I’m continuing my trend of occasionally diverging from Beatle-centric material to discuss the recent release of The Getaway, the 11th studio album by what is probably my second favorite band of all time, Red Hot Chili Peppers. This album has reaffirmed my belief that they are actually underrated by the general population for the incredible creativity and musicality of their catalog. They’re not just a funk-alternative-rock hybrid that sings “Under The Bridge” a lot, they are a genius musical conglomeration that has blessed the world with many, many awesome songs.

Speaking of awesome songs, this album is absolutely full of them! The Red Hot Chili Peppers strayed from their usual producer, Rick Rubin, on The Getaway, choosing to work instead with popular producer Danger Mouse. I’m not hugely up on music producers and their individual styles, but I do think that the change in producers is evident in this album’s more polished, modern sound. Some devoted fans of RHCP have complained about this, presumably longing for the days of yore when RHCP jumped all around the stage and wore nothing but socks during their concerts.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, I am always a champion of a band’s musical evolution if I feel that they are still staying true to their musical roots. As good an album as Californication is, it really would be tedious if RHCP released six albums exactly like it. In my mind, there’s a distinct difference between a band evolving their sound and a band “selling out” with pop drivel. The Getaway certainly represents the former for RHCP; it features just enough experimentation that is well-balanced with more straightforward songs, and to me, it all sounds like the signature Chili Peppers that I love so dearly.

To give my more specific opinions on the album, I’m going to do a quick song-by-song rundown! Here we go!

  1. The Getaway– This is definitely one of the less rock-sounding songs on the album, but I love the scattered guitar work in the beginning, and it has a well-deserved place among the RHCP canon as a soothing, mellow track.
  2. Dark Necessities– I feel that the album version could benefit strongly from a more prominent guitar part. However, it is a fantastic song with an addicting base line, and I absolutely love the guitar solo break near the end!
  3. We Turn Red– This song didn’t stick out to me upon my initial listening of the album, but it certainly is funky and has interesting lyrics. I’ll have to listen to it some more to truly get into it, I think.
  4. The Longest Wave– THIS, my friends, is I believe the best song on the album! From the guitar introduction, to the soft verses, to the majestic chorus, I am obsessed with listening to this song on repeat. Ride the wave, because this song should become a RHCP classic if there’s any justice in this world.
  5. Goodbye Angels– This song really rocks, I love it!!! One of my favorites on the album as well, it builds beautifully and the guitar slashes throughout the song will get stuck in your head. Also that guitar break near the end is just brilliant.
  6. Sick Love– Important to note that this song features the one and only Sir Elton John! It’s interesting and honestly I think I’d prefer it as a classic Elton John song than a RHCP song, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
  7. Go Robot– Wow, there’s not one but TWO bass parts on this song! I think it sounds better as a live version, as the album version sounds a little overproduced even within the context of this album. Still, it’s extremely catchy and should be a single soon, I’d love to hear it on the radio!
  8. Feasting on the Flowers– I love the breezy guitar style throughout this song. I don’t have a ton to say about it honestly, but it’s not a bad song at all.
  9. Detroit– This song rocks pretty hard while still fitting in to the Chili Peppers’ more modern musical style. Again, the guitar here definitely drives the song and keeps it fun!
  10. This Ticonderoga– This awesome song weaves back and forth between two very musically distinct parts, though I do think the two sections are a little randomly put together. Still, the song’s internal diversity is a new, interesting musical step for the Chili Peppers.
  11. Encore– My other favorite song on the album!! It’s much more mellow alternative than the Chili Peppers commonly go, but the guitar is hypnotic and addicting. I actually like its verses better than the chorus, which is unusual for me, but the driving, sort of poppy beat here actually works really well as a constant thread throughout the song.
  12. The Hunter– This song is honestly a little slow for me and drags a bit to be a favorite of mine, but if you’re in the mood for a much slower Chili Peppers song, this one has a lovely airy guitar part.
  13. Dreams of a Samurai– This is probably the most overtly experimental song on The Getaway, but upon multiple listens, it’s quite a fascinating song and a grand, inspiring closing gesture on this amazing album.

One thing I love about this album as a whole is how it features their current guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, much more prominently than did the previous Chili Peppers album, I’m With You. The aforementioned album was his first as an official member of the band, but his contribution to RHCP truly blossoms on The Getaway with the increased guitar presence and his lush backing vocals and harmonies. I’ve seen a lot of Josh-bashing on RHCP videos by overly nostalgic RHCP fans, but I think he’s a fantastic musician with a lot to offer for the Chili Peppers. I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the table for future RHCP albums!

So in conclusion, I love this album and I’ve been listening/harmonizing to it a lot this summer. With each listen, I continue to notice just how many diverse and interesting sounds there are on this album. For someone who enjoys unpacking individual elements of songs as they listen to them, this album is definitely for you. I’m so excited by its presence in my life, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour the US soon to promote it! They are #1 on my current bucket list of concerts to see, and I have every faith that if/when I see them live, I will be transported on a musical getaway.

My Top 10 Favorite John Lennon Solo Songs

My all time favorite picture of John Lennon!

My all time favorite picture of John Lennon!

I intend to do a solo countdown for each Beatle, and John Lennon’s solo career is next up on my list. Although I’m not as familiar with his solo work as I am with George’s or Paul’s, he has a lot of great songs from his too-short career. I used to not be a big fan of John in general, for some reason, but once I started listening more closely to his solo songs, I began to appreciate him much more. And now we arrive at this countdown! Here we go!

10. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

John wrote this for his son, Sean, back in the late 70s. I can really feel the emotion he puts into this, and he seems so protective and loving of his son. I suppose that he wanted to try again at being a father after his first attempt with Julian in the heyday of Beatlemania didn’t work out so well. In any event, he succeeded, both with this song and with Sean.

9. Working Class Hero

Despite John’s use of the F-word in this song, twice, I love the lyrics and the whole song in general. This is John at his most honest, and the guitar part is haunting, but beautiful.

8. Cold Turkey

I think Eric Clapton plays guitar on this song, but even if he doesn’t, I LOVE the guitar on this song!!!! This could have been a Beatles song. I believe the Beatles rehearsed this at some point, but I guess it didn’t make the cut. Oh well, neither did 90% of George’s songs, and he turned out all right!

7. Imagine

It would basically be blasphemy if I didn’t have Imagine on my list, so here it is. Seriously though, it’s not my favorie John song ever, and I haven’t spent hours studying the lyrics like some people, but I do love the song. I think that people take this song a bit too seriously sometimes, and they forget that, as John once said, “It’s just a song, man!” Since John didn’t take it too seriously, neither will I!

6. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

This was John’s only #1 hit while he was alive, and he wrote it with Elton John. They actually had a deal where John agreed to appear on stage with Elton John if it went to #1. John didn’t think it would get to #1, but it did, and he appeared on stage at Madison Square Garden because of it. Anyway, this is one of John’s most upbeat and bounciest songs, and I love it!

5. Instant Karma

This song rocks!!! I love singing along to the chorus! Also, I think George played guitar on this track. Double the Beatles, double the awesomeness!

4. Watching the Wheels

This song is kind of like Imagine, but I actually like it better. The piano part is so soothing, and as usual with John, the lyrics are great. I first heard it in a ice cream store in Montauk, of all places. I’m not quite sure why I remember that.

3. #9 Dream

Ahhh, it’s Beatlesque John! This song could easily be a psychadelic Beatles song, and also reminds me a lot of one of my favorite George songs, Dream Away, especially in the “ow bowakawa” part (Spell check, anyone?) Also, one of the lyrics is actually, “Dream, dream away.” I wonder if George was inspired by this song? My Beatley senses tell me YES!

2. Jealous Guy

For some reason, this song is so beautiful that I’m always tearing up within the first 10 seconds. Combine that with an emotional Lennon/McCartney video, and I’m a wreck. It’s just so perfect. Lennon/McCartney videos always make me emotional. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song in a public setting, but I guarantee that if I did, I’d have a hard time holding back the tears.

1. Nobody Told Me

This is my favorite John solo song and my favorite John tribute video, combined! This is rocking John at his best! He knew how to have a good time! This is the song to listen to when you’ve been working hard and nobody told you there’d be days like these. Strange days, indeed!

So there you have it. Lennon in a nutshell, sort of. But here are some more solo John songs to check out if you’re curious!
Power to the People
(Just Like) Starting Over
Oh, Yoko!
Woman
Happy Christmas, War is Over!
How Do You Sleep?
Mind Games

For all you Lennon Lovers, here’s another, stunningly beautiful picture of John to end the post. I’ve always firmly believed that George was the best looking Beatle, but John sure gives him a run for his money here!

John Lennon, lookin' fine!

John Lennon, lookin’ fine!