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Monday, March 14, 2011

Quizzing You: Favorite Song Openings


Music has had a very important influence on my life. To put it simply, I love music. I'm not really a critic or necessarily even a fan of critics; however, I am guilty of judging the music I listen to. Over the years, many song lyrics have hit me squarely in the face and then continued to be destinations for my recurring visitations. I call them "magic tunes." The songs, to me, can be of any genre although I do prefer popular music to classical or progressive jazz. The time in which they were originally recorded makes no difference to me.

I thought it might be fun to explore initial lyrics. So, I asked myself: "What are the first words of some on my favorite songs?" This proved to be an interesting journey for me because I found first impressions of songs are often lasting impressions. Of course, this blog post does not take into consideration the music, only the lyrics. Still, I'm sure I subconsciously picked some songs with a melody or rift stuck in the back of my mind.

Since I comprised the list, I do not have to qualify my whimsy with detailed explanations of my criteria for choosing these particular songs. I had no particular reason for choosing these, anyway. I could just as easily make another three hundred choices for my favorites. Here's the reasoning for selection - these lyrics had me from the "get-go."

A song, to me, resembles a poem in that the sensual impression is the key to impact. A song doesn't have to have great thematic nature or does not even have to make sense. What is a great lyric? Let's make a poetry analogy and leave it at that. Wordsworth defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings;" Emily Dickinson said, "If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry;" and Dylan Thomas defined poetry this way: "Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing." Fair enough?



Here is my list. I am not supplying the names of the songs. I thought some of you might like to read this entry as little First Song Words Quiz. I promise to give you the names of the tunes tomorrow. Some of these have been recorded by many different artists over the years. None or very few are obscure.  

1. "Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling from glen to glen and down the mountain side.The summer's gone, and all the roses falling. 'Tis you, 'tis you must go, and I must bide..."

2. "There is a young cowboy. He lives on the range. His horse and his cattle are his only companions..."

3. "Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby..."

4. "I've had choices since the day I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong..."

5. "Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root.Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees..."

6. "There are places I remember all my life, some forever not for better..."

7. "It's a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed. My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road out of your Dust Bowl and Westward we rolled..."

8. "One summer day, she went away. Gone and left me. She's gone to stay. She's gone, but I don't worry: I'm sitting on top of the world..."

9. "Oh see, See See Rider, girl see what you've done..."

10. "I walk 47 miles of barbed wire. I use a cobra-snake for a necktie. I got a brand new house on the roadside made from rattlesnake hide..."

11. "Gypsy woman told my mother 'fore I was born, you got a boy-child coming, gonna be a son of a gun."

12. "There’s a place where I’ve been told every street is paved with gold, and it’s just across the borderline. And when it’s time to take your turn here’s one lesson that you must learn: You could lose more than you’ll ever hope to find..."

13. "Leaves are fallin' all around. Time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay but now it's time for me to go..."

14. "Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same if I saw you in heaven?"

15. "I come from down in the valley where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done..."

16. "There she was just a walkin' down the street singin' 'Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do.' Snappin' her fingers and a shufflin her feet singin', 'Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do...'"

17. "Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah. Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah. Oh-oh-oh-oh-wah. Only the lonely, only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah) know the way I feel tonight (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)..."

18. "She say it's cold outside and she hands me my raincoat. She's always worried about things like that.She says it's all gonna end and it might as well be my fault, and she only sleeps when it's raining, and she screams and her voice is straining..."

19. "I saw her today at a reception, a glass of wine in her hand. I knew she would meet her connection --at her feet was her footloose man..."

20. "I remember when I used to play shoot em up (Shoot em up, bang, bang baby). I remember when I chased the girls and beat em up, but I was young and didn't understand. But now I'm a grown up man, and I know girls are made for kissing. Never knew what I was missing. Now my life is not the same. My whole world has been rearranged -- I went from (cowboys to girls)..."

21. "There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun. And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy, and God, I know I'm one..."

22. "Oh, it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl, and with the way you look, I understand that you were not impressed. But I heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress..."

23. "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. We're finally on our own.  This summer I hear the drumming..."

24. "People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation). Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)..."

25. "I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it. Ill make you so sure about it..."

26. "Now when I was just a little boy standin' to my Daddy's knee, my Poppa said son don't let the man get you do what he done to me 'cause he'll get you, 'cause he'll get you now now..."

27. "We skipped a light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor. I was feeling kind of seasick, but the crowd called out for more. The room was humming harder as the ceiling flew away. When we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray..." 

28. "I was standing by my window on one cold and cloudy day when I saw that hearse come rolling for to carry my mother away..."

29. "I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand walking through the streets of Soho in the rain. He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook's going to get a big dish of beef chow mein..."

30. Well, I' never been to Spain, but I kinda like the music. Say the ladies are insane there, and they sure know how to use it.They don't abuse it, never gonna lose it. I can't refuse it. Mmm-hmm-mmm.

31. "I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road, searching in the sun for another overload..."

32. "I went to the crossroad fell down on my knees. I went to the crossroad fell down on my knees. Asked the Lord above 'Have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please.' Mmmmm, standin' at the crossroad I tried to flag a ride. Standin' at the crossroad I tried to flag a ride. Didn't nobody seem to know me. Everybody pass me by..."

33. "Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight. Preacher man don't tell me heaven is under the earth. I know you don't know what life is really worth. It's not all that glitters is gold. Half the story has never been told.So now you see the light..."

34. "A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird. B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word. A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word. A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word..."

36. "To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn) there is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn) and a time to every purpose, under Heaven..."

37. "Johnny's in the basement mixing up the medicine. I'm on the pavement thinking about the government. The man in the trench coat, badge out, laid off says he's got a bad cough, wants to get it paid off. Look out, kid, it's somthin' you did. God knows when but you're doin' it again..."

38. "Once upon a time you dressed so fine. You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ? People'd call, say, 'Beware, doll. You're bound to fall.' You thought they were all kiddin' you..."

39. "I've got a sweet little angel. I love the way she spread her wings. Yes, got a sweet little angel. I love the way she spread her wings. Yes, when she spreads her wings around me, I get joy and everything..."

40. "(I can't stop loving you) I've made up my mind to live in memory of the lonesome times. (I can't stop wanting you) It's useless to say, so I'll just live my life in dreams of yesterday."

41. "Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands. Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands. Well, you get in that kitchen, make some noise with the pots 'n pans."

42. "Silver wings shining in the sunlight. Roaring engines headed somewhere in flight. They're taking you away and leaving me lonely. Silver wings slowly fading out of sight..."

43. "Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty. Been down, isn't it a pity? Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city..."

44. "Hear that lonesome whippoorwill. He sounds too blue to fly. The midnight train is whining low. I'm so lonesome I could cry..."

45. "The eastern world it is exploding, violence flarin' bullets loadin'. You're old enough to kill but not for votin'. You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'? And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'..."

46. "Wild thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything... groovy..."

47. "Well my time went so quickly. I went lickety-splitly out to my old '55. As I drove away slowly, feeling so holy, God knows, I was feeling alive. Now the sun's coming up. I'm riding with Lady Luck..."

48. "In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty, I want to be in the warm hold of your loving mind..."

49. "There's a southern accent, where I come from. The young 'uns call it country. The Yankees call it dumb. I got my own way of talkin' but everything is done, with a southern accent where I come from..."

50. "Nobody feels any pain tonight as I stand inside the rain. Everybody knows that baby's got new clothes, but lately I see her ribbons and her bows have fallen from her curls..."

51. "Faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases, tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces..."

52, "I ain't never been with a woman long enough for my boots to get old, but we've been together so long now they both need resoled..."

53. "Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping. And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains..."

54. "Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying. You know we've got to find a way to bring some lovin' here today..."

55. "Everybody's talking at me. I don't hear a word they're saying, only the echoes of my mind. People stopping staring. I can't see their faces, only the shadows of their eyes..."

56. "The Mississippi Delta was shining like a National guitar.  I am following the river, down the highway through the cradle of the civil war..."

57. "I was born in a crossfire hurricane, and I howled at my ma in the driving rain. But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas..."

58. "Lonesome Suzie never got the breaks. She's always losing and so she sits and cries and shakes. It's hard just to watch her and if I touch her, oh, poor Suzie, I'm wondering what to do..."

59. "Da, da, da, da, da, Jackie Wilson said It was 'reet-petite.' Kinda love you got knock me off my feet. Let it all hang out..."

60. "We're caught in a trap. I can't walk out because I love you too much, baby. Why can't you see what you're doing to me when you don't believe a word I say?"

61. "Train I ride, sixteen coaches long. Train I ride, sixteen coaches long. Well, that long black train got my baby and it's gone..."

62. "Remember when the days were long and rolled beneath a deep blue sky. Didn't have a care in the world with mommy and daddy standin' by. But 'happily ever after' fails, and we've been poisoned by these fairy tales.The lawyers dwell on small details since daddy had to fly. But, I know a place where we can go that's still untouched my man..."

63. "Spotcheck Billy got down on his hands and knees. He said 'Hey momma, hey let me check your oil alright?' She said 'No, no honey, not tonight...'"

64. "Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand. Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island. Might even raise a little sand..."

65. "I know your leavin's too long overdue. For far too long I've had nothin' new to show to you. Goodbye dry eyes. I watched your plane fade off west of the moon, and it felt so strange to walk away alone..." 

66. "Are you all right? All of a sudden you went away. Are you all right? I hope you come back around someday. Are you all right? I haven't seen you in a real long time. Are you all right? Could you give me kind of sign?"

67. "You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever, but you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun, and the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids..."

68. "Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call. Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall You've seen it all, you've seen it all. Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam, and in your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen. Most of 'em dreams, most of 'em dreams..."

69. "Ridin' on the City of New Orleans Illinois Central, Monday mornin' rail. Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders, three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail. All along the south-bound odyssey the train pulls out at Kankakee and rolls along past houses, farms and fields ..."

70. "We've been runnin' away from somethin' we both know. We've long run out of things to say and I think I'd better go. So don't be gettin' excited when you hear that slammin' door 'cause there'll be one less set of footsteps on your floor in the mornin'..."

71. "Freedom for the stallion. Freedom for the mare and her colt. Freedom for the baby child who has not grown old enough to vote. Lord, have mercy, what you gonna do about the people who are praying to you? They got men making laws that destroy other men . They've made money. God, it's a doggone sin..."

72. "Some people say a man is made outta mud. A poor man's made outta muscle and blood. Muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong..." 

73. "Birdie in the hand for life's rich demand. The insurgency began and you missed it. I looked for it and I found it . Myles Standish proud, congratulate me. A philanderer's tie, a murderer's shoe, life's rich demand creates supply in the hand of the powers, the only vote that matters. Silence means security; silence means approval." On Zenith, on the TV, tiger run around the tree, follow the leader, run and turn into butter..."

74. Now I've heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord. But you don't really care for music, do you? It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift..." 

75. "A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom! Tutti frutti, aw rooty..."

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