Best opening lines

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what's the best opening lyric to a song or album? I'll probably add a few more later, but two poped into my head as i listened to an old mixtape on the drive home today:

"A long time ago
I looked at myself
and said you, you are my darling."
- Meat Puppets, "Up On The Sun"

"It just so happens I've many concerns..."
- Damien Jurado, Ghost of David

roger adultery (roger adultery), Monday, 23 June 2003 20:11 (twenty years ago) link

Heres a collection of really cool ones:

Charles McCain (Charles McCain), Monday, 23 June 2003 20:16 (twenty years ago) link

favorite opening lines from songs

gygax! (gygax!), Monday, 23 June 2003 20:17 (twenty years ago) link

"Bring the motherfucking ruckus"

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Monday, 23 June 2003 20:56 (twenty years ago) link

favorite album opening lines:

does it get much better than this:
"Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?" dylan - like a rolling stone, from highway 61.

another contender, still makes a big impact on me:
"when you have no one, no one can hurt you" - palace brothers - you will miss me when i burn, from self titled (days in the wake).

Bob Shaw (Bob Shaw), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:06 (twenty years ago) link

I love this game!

"We like driving on a Saturday night
Past the leisure centre, left at the lights"

"Two scientists were racing for the good of all Mankind
Both of them side by side
So determined"

and perhaps my all-time favourite:

"It's raining today
And I'm just about to forget
The train window girl
That wonderful day we met
She smiles through the smoke
From my cigarette"

CharlieNo4 (Charlie), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:22 (twenty years ago) link

one velvet morning when i'm straight
i'm going to open up your gate

gaz (gaz), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:28 (twenty years ago) link

"In a pretty sane reaction to a stone cold month o' mondaaaaaaayyyyyyyysssssss........"

Opening line of "Coldest Day of the Year" by Cop $hoot Cop, a song about huffin' carbon monoxide as a means of suicide.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:29 (twenty years ago) link

"i got a deluxe Head racquet with gut strings
i said my serve is really outta sight!"

alex chilton
"tennis bum"
officially unreleased

gygax! (gygax!), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:32 (twenty years ago) link

"They say that love is blind
But I think that dumb is what they had in mind"
- Don't Just Do Something, Spiritualized

"I don't have to sell my soul
He's already in me"
- I Wanna Be Adored, Stone Roses

"Images of perfection, suntan, and napalm"
- Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart, Manic Street Preachers

King Kobra (King Kobra), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:38 (twenty years ago) link

Other, uh, good opening lines:

"Who are you? Who who, who who?"
Who are you - The Who

"Hello there ladies and gentlemen
Are you ready to rock?!"
- Hello There, Cheap Trick

King Kobra (King Kobra), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:39 (twenty years ago) link

The Monks' Black Monk Time owns this thread

Millar (Millar), Monday, 23 June 2003 21:47 (twenty years ago) link

"In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection." - Silver Jews, American Water

Famous Athlete, Monday, 23 June 2003 21:54 (twenty years ago) link

"in the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway american dream, at night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines"
bruce 4-ever!
"i heard the words come out of my mouth, and i watched your face fall"
casiotone 4-ever!

lauren (laurenp), Monday, 23 June 2003 22:04 (twenty years ago) link

I still go for "When I got back home I found a message on the door," which opens Brian Eno's astonishing _Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)_...

Douglas (Douglas), Monday, 23 June 2003 22:21 (twenty years ago) link

"She puts those lips like a leech / up to the sex on the beach..."
-- Lifter Puller, "Fiestas + Fiascos"

Ben Boyer, Monday, 23 June 2003 22:29 (twenty years ago) link

Are you ready to rock?!

Also a great opening line for the Butthole Surfers, in Cannonball.

Christine 'Green Leafy Dragon' Indigo (cindigo), Monday, 23 June 2003 22:31 (twenty years ago) link

"Dearly beloved...."

maria b (maria b), Monday, 23 June 2003 22:48 (twenty years ago) link

When you're looking at life
in a strange new room
Maybe drowning soon,
Is this the start of it all?

Mike Taylor (mjt), Monday, 23 June 2003 23:46 (twenty years ago) link

another vote for silver jews, only for natural bridge "no i don't really wanna die, i only wanna die in your eyes".

di smith (lucylurex), Monday, 23 June 2003 23:49 (twenty years ago) link

(and if thats corny, well corn me up!)

di smith (lucylurex), Monday, 23 June 2003 23:49 (twenty years ago) link

Eels - "Last Stop: This Town". It goes"You're dead".

N. Ron, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 00:02 (twenty years ago) link

"Standing on the corner, suitcase in my hand
Jack's in his corset, Jane is in her vest
Me? I'm in a rock and roll band."

Salmon Pink (Salmon Pink), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 00:55 (twenty years ago) link


My name is Kenny (My name is Kenny), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 02:08 (twenty years ago) link

That one always made me laugh because I'd always thought of that record as his first. Sort of like Return Of The Durutti Column as the first album kind of syndrome.

N. Ron, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 02:47 (twenty years ago) link

"Suckin' on my tiddies like you wanted me..... "

maria b (maria b), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 03:01 (twenty years ago) link

in the exoricst baby / you were really insane

dan (dan), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 03:59 (twenty years ago) link

"Sister got bit
by a copperhead snake
in the woods behind the house."

I remember losing my shit when an utter idiot friend of mine at a party of the era announced at a party that he'd heard easily the dumbest worst song ever on the radio about some chick being bitten by a snake.

Hunter (Hunter), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 04:01 (twenty years ago) link

Album opener:

“Can I have the key to the medicine cabinet?

(Volcano Suns - Farced)

Song opener:

“I woke up alarmed”

(Liz Phair “Fuck and Run”)

Ben from Gull City, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 04:26 (twenty years ago) link

"I am angry I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin." - Magazine, "Song From Under the Floorboards"

nickn (nickn), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 05:15 (twenty years ago) link


JOOLS, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 05:22 (twenty years ago) link

"Is she really going out with him?"

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 07:27 (twenty years ago) link

"I'm expressin with my full capabilities
Now I'm livin in correctional facilites" - NWA

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" - Van Morrison

"All of your friends are cunts" - Mclusky

"When you have no one no one can hurt you" - Will Oldham

neil simpson, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 07:58 (twenty years ago) link

Screendoor slams, Mary's dress waves

pip, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 08:31 (twenty years ago) link

You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
-David Bowie, Rebel Rebel

Tijn, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 09:39 (twenty years ago) link

I will be the first person in history to die of boredom.

- Felt, Declaration.

flowersdie (flowersdie), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 09:51 (twenty years ago) link

"What we have here, is failure to communicate. There are some men who just can't reach"

Guns'n'Roses, Use Your Illusion 1

Jay K (Jay K), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 09:52 (twenty years ago) link

"Never seen you looking so fine my fuhhnky one."~Steely Dan_Any Major Dude.

thomas de'aguirre (biteylove), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 10:24 (twenty years ago) link

<<"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" - Van Morrison>>

isn't that patti smith?

Michael Dubsky, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 10:58 (twenty years ago) link

"i don't like you, but i love you"

from 'you've really got a hold on me

for albums, the start of 'searching for the young soul rebels' is pretty hard to beat

crackly radio montage of holiday in the sun/smoke on the water/rat race/a couple of other things, then

rowland "[incomprehensible shout]"

dexys blokes "YEAH!"

rowland "[another incomprehensible shout]"

dexys blokes "YEAH!"

rowland (sounding spectacularly brummie) "for god's sakes burn it down"

adam b (adam b), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 11:10 (twenty years ago) link

"Pray God you can cope...." Kate Bush's 'This Woman's Work'
"I feel so extraordinary" - New Order True Faith
"Whose sticky hands are these.... and what is this empty place?" Alison Moyet - This House (possibly the greatest song lyric ever written, bar none).

russ t, Tuesday, 24 June 2003 13:05 (twenty years ago) link

"my mummy's dead"

Felcher (Felcher), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 14:38 (twenty years ago) link

Best first line of an album?

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 17:09 (twenty years ago) link

"1 2 3 4 5 6!"

Salmon Pink (Salmon Pink), Tuesday, 24 June 2003 17:26 (twenty years ago) link

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 - Fear, pretty much every song.

nickn (nickn), Wednesday, 25 June 2003 00:12 (twenty years ago) link

kick out the jams, motherfuckers

Bruce Urquhart (Bruce Urquhart), Wednesday, 25 June 2003 02:02 (twenty years ago) link

"Hi, my name is Michaelangelo Matos, and I must say, you look HOTTT tonight."

oh wait...

M Matos (M Matos), Wednesday, 25 June 2003 02:55 (twenty years ago) link

seven months pass...
"I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,"
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?

J-rock (Julien Sandiford), Thursday, 19 February 2004 06:44 (nineteen years ago) link

"A long time ago
I looked at myself
and said you, you are my darling."
- Meat Puppets, "Up On The Sun"

uh-oh! i hereby report you to your local misheard lyric thread!

but the actual meat puppets lyric is indeed a classic opening line:

a long time ago
i looked at myself
and said, "you, you are my daughter"

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 19 February 2004 07:06 (nineteen years ago) link

"Every time I close my eyes
I wake up feeling so horrrrrny"

Jay Smooth (jsmooth995), Thursday, 19 February 2004 07:12 (nineteen years ago) link

"In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection." - Silver Jews, American Water
― Famous Athlete, Monday, June 23, 2003 9:54 PM (8 years ago) Bookmark

― Lophar Andreusz DeLeone (admrl), Monday, August 22, 2011 11:45 AM (2 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

reggie (qualmsley), Sunday, 2 March 2014 03:02 (nine years ago) link

"I dreamed about a reefer five feet long"

Mr. Snrub, Sunday, 2 March 2014 03:33 (nine years ago) link

I tried
but I could not find a way

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 2 March 2014 03:34 (nine years ago) link

When your world is full of strange arrangements
And gravity won't pull you through
You know you're missing out on something
Well that something depends on you

I'll have a shower
And then phone my brother up
Within the hour
I'll smash another cup

Kitchen Person, Sunday, 2 March 2014 05:33 (nine years ago) link

"When I was back there in seminary school
There was a person there
Who put forth the proposition
That you can petition the Lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!"

The Doors - Soft Parade

bodacious ignoramus, Sunday, 2 March 2014 06:54 (nine years ago) link

I used to wake and run with the moon
I lived like a rake and a young man

charlie h, Sunday, 2 March 2014 13:30 (nine years ago) link

Out of town, my work takes me out of town.
I empty villages, I burn their houses down.
I set up factories, lay out plantations,
And bring prosperity to the poorer nations.

emil.y, Sunday, 2 March 2014 13:51 (nine years ago) link

ha this thread starts with a misquote of that Meat Puppets lyric

I got the glares, the mutterings, the snarls (President Keyes), Sunday, 2 March 2014 15:10 (nine years ago) link

a lot of these are frankly more like opening verses

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Sunday, 2 March 2014 15:22 (nine years ago) link

A single opening line is one thing, opening lines is another. I guess it depends on if you read the question as 'what are the best lines that open a song' or 'I want multiple people to give me their favourite line that opens a song'.

emil.y, Sunday, 2 March 2014 15:34 (nine years ago) link

This may be a poetry-reader's bias, but when I think of 'great opening lines' I tend to focus on the fragmentary or obviously incomplete lines that put the listener in suspense from the get-go. Obviously this metric tends to favor storytelling songwriters ("After three nights in jail..." is a personal favorite for its economy, along with "Maybe we could break your ankle, clean & un-suspiciously?") but straightforward pop lyrics benefit just as much from a compressed opening: "I used to say 'I love you...'" — "Rally up my friends & stand by my bedside!" — "I'm never going back to Jackson."

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Sunday, 2 March 2014 15:49 (nine years ago) link

I don't necessarily disagree, but equally would point out that that's your focus, and some people prefer longer lines that make a more complete picture. Also, I think for a lot of people they're choosing things that have a great instant hook but that also follow up well - mine, I think, would work with your criteria with just the first line (What work? Where? What's happening here? Where's the story going?) but maintains a consistently interesting tone throughout.

emil.y, Sunday, 2 March 2014 15:55 (nine years ago) link

yeah, I dunno, I swear I don't *want to* be difficult, it's just that I have a different mental filing cabinet for "songs that open with a string of good lines, each building on the one(s) that came before" and I would put your example (which I am actually not familiar with so who cares what I think really) there, alongside something like this perfectly-paced Silver Jews throwaway I recently rediscovered

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Sunday, 2 March 2014 16:02 (nine years ago) link

MC5 win this forever, right?

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 2 March 2014 16:45 (nine years ago) link

Outside another yellow moon has punched a hole in the night-time mist.

- Tom Waits - Downtown Train

Moka, Sunday, 2 March 2014 17:41 (nine years ago) link

"Ain't thou watchin' my film"

brimstead, Sunday, 2 March 2014 18:14 (nine years ago) link

i'm with bernard, i guess, but it's apples and oranges.

brimstead, Sunday, 2 March 2014 18:15 (nine years ago) link

three weeks pass...

"it's so hard... somebody's gonna be evicted"

brimstead, Wednesday, 26 March 2014 03:02 (nine years ago) link

argh i think i mean that somebody's GOTTA be evicted

brimstead, Wednesday, 26 March 2014 03:04 (nine years ago) link

four weeks pass...

from eno's "no one receiving":

"It will shine and it will shudder as I guide it with my rudder"

so awesome

brimstead, Thursday, 24 April 2014 01:57 (nine years ago) link

i guess i'm thinking of this in terms of the opening lines of *albums*, like, lines that really set a tone or somehow leave you in awe from the get go.

brimstead, Thursday, 24 April 2014 01:59 (nine years ago) link

three years pass...

Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools

flappy bird, Monday, 31 July 2017 07:06 (six years ago) link

My first name Angelene,
prettiest mess you've ever seen

Week of Wonders (Ross), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:23 (six years ago) link

All of your friends are cunts
and your mother was a ballpoint pen thief

The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:37 (six years ago) link


The Anti-Climax Blues Band (Turrican), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:38 (six years ago) link

Why would you run ?
I beg stars above
A thing of such beauty
Must be called love

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 18:21 (six years ago) link

I am an American aquarium drinker
I assassin down the line
I'm hiding out in the big city blinking
What was I thinking when I let go of you?

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 18:30 (six years ago) link

backwater -- we're sailing at the edges of time

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 1 August 2017 20:13 (six years ago) link

four months pass...

"won't say I love you, babe"

(Won't say I need you, babe
But I'm gonna get you, babe
And I will not do you wrong)

From "to live is to fly" by tvz

I don't get it but it's remarkable anyway.

fuiud, mac (rip van wanko), Friday, 8 December 2017 21:35 (six years ago) link

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back

kornrulez6969, Saturday, 9 December 2017 05:43 (five years ago) link

who is Jack?

niels, Saturday, 9 December 2017 21:14 (five years ago) link

Jack Palance

kornrulez6969, Monday, 11 December 2017 03:48 (five years ago) link

I was born the day they shot JFK,
the way you look at me sucks me down the sidewalk,
somebody please tell this machine I'm not a machine

In a slipshod style (Ross), Monday, 11 December 2017 04:35 (five years ago) link


I love the colorful clothes she wears

never have i been a blue calm sea (collardio gelatinous), Monday, 11 December 2017 07:11 (five years ago) link

^ yup

In a slipshod style (Ross), Monday, 11 December 2017 07:12 (five years ago) link

I always assumed Jack was shorthand for a state or smth, like Memphis, Tennessee, but I guess that doesn't make any sense, and instead the opening line is setting the scene of the song as a dialogue between narrator and interlocutor Jack?

can't help but feel this is lazy songwriting, that Jack is only there for the rhyme

the next line is all killer though

niels, Monday, 11 December 2017 07:18 (five years ago) link

He is not your run of the mill garden variety Alabama country fare

flappy bird, Monday, 11 December 2017 07:41 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

every night i tell myself i am the cosmos
i am the wind
but that don't get you back again

cwkiii, Thursday, 28 May 2020 13:06 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

Feels like I've been through a washing machine

frogbs, Tuesday, 18 October 2022 03:51 (one year ago) link

There were 87 Advil in the bottle now there's 30 left, I ate 47 so what happened to the other 10?

frogbs, Tuesday, 18 October 2022 03:51 (one year ago) link

it's not music but the opening line to Forrest McNeil's Review is one of the best:

"'s literally all we have. But is it any good?"

frogbs, Tuesday, 18 October 2022 03:57 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Son, I'm 30
I only went with your mother 'cause she's dirty

as a lyricist he is from hell (flamboyant goon tie included), Wednesday, 15 November 2023 22:38 (three weeks ago) link

Teenage angst has paid off well
Now I'm bored and old

alpine static, Thursday, 16 November 2023 08:28 (three weeks ago) link

life's a nightmare,
i can't stand it

Fizzles, Thursday, 16 November 2023 08:55 (three weeks ago) link

Jens Lekman isn't on my mind or radar all that much, but he certainly his regarding the question of best opening lines:

Yeah I got busted.
So I used my one phone call
to dedicate
a song to you on the radio

Valentijn, Thursday, 16 November 2023 09:47 (three weeks ago) link

(he certainly is)

Valentijn, Thursday, 16 November 2023 09:48 (three weeks ago) link

I love that Jens song, but David Berman should get most of the credit there, and for the chorus too, because those lyrics are based on this bit of Berman's poem "Governors on Sominex":

P.K. was in the precinct house, using his one phone call
to dedicate a song to Tammy, for she was the light
by which he traveled into this and that

iirc one of Jens's friends had included these lines (uncredited) in a letter to him, and Jens paraphrased them in the song thinking his friend had written them.

Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Thursday, 16 November 2023 19:07 (three weeks ago) link

jens has plenty of candidates for the thread to be fair

is he disgruntled adrian? (voodoo chili), Thursday, 16 November 2023 20:05 (three weeks ago) link

It has often been my dream
To live with one who wasn't there

Xgau Murder Spa (nikola), Saturday, 18 November 2023 03:17 (two weeks ago) link

Life is dull, life is gray
At its best it's just OK
But I'm happy to report:
Life is also short

one time gaffled 'em up (one time), Saturday, 18 November 2023 03:34 (two weeks ago) link

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