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10 Best Opening Lyrics

Ian Gavan, Getty Images
Ian Gavan, Getty Images

One of our favorite subjects to debate is songs that have the best opening lyrics, the ones that quickly engage the listener for the duration of the song. The right hooks will nail your ears to the radio for repeated listening, segmented into nice three and four minute bursts. As part of our “Great Starts” week, here's a list of our 10 best opening lyrics that were immediate ear candy from the first time that we heard them.


Eric Clapton
Amazon.com
10

'Blues Power'

Eric Clapton
 
 

Bet you didn't think I knew how to rock 'n' roll / Lord, I got the boogie-woogie right down in my very soul.” While there are infinite opening song lyrics from Eric Clapton that we could have chosen for this slot, ‘Blues Power’ lands the winning vote by simply lobbing an accusation that very few would ever throw in Eric Clapton’s direction.

 
Talking Heads
Amazon.com
9

'Once in a Lifetime'

Talking Heads
 
 

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack / And you may find yourself in another part of the world / And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile.” While we’re happy to admit that we’ve never found ourselves living in a shotgun shack, David Byrne and the Talking Heads did a great job of chronicling life’s unexpected events in song.

 
Thin Lizzy
Amazon.com
8

'The Boys Are Back in Town'

Thin Lizzy
 
 

Guess who just got back today / Those wild-eyed boys that had been away / Haven't changed, haven't much to say / But man, I still think those cats are great.” From sporting events to welcoming home anybody, 'The Boys are Back in Town' has become a multi-purpose song that fits nearly any occasion.

 
Rolling Stones
Amazon.com
7

'Sympathy for the Devil'

The Rolling Stones
 
 

Please allow me to introduce myself / I'm a man of wealth and taste/ I've been around for a long, long year / Stole many a man's soul and faith.” If the opening jungle-like sounds don’t help to convince you that you might be in hell, the Stones' sly introduction will put a chill on your heart and you'll quickly cross hell off of your list of potential vacation destinations.

 
ZZ Top
Amazon.com
6

'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide'

ZZ Top
 
 

Well, I was rolling down the road in some cold blue steel / I had a blues man in back and a beautician at the wheel.” The twin-powered attack of guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill -- matched with Gibbons’ ability to deliver a lyric with even more smoothness than the best used car salesman -- have always put “that little ol band from Texas” a few steps ahead of the rest of the pack. Whatever they’re singing about, we’d be happy to go along for the ride. The opening lyrics for 'Nationwide' easily rank among rock 'n' roll's very best.

 
Van Halen
Amazon.com
5

'Jump'

Van Halen
 
 

I get up, and nothing gets me down / You got it tough / I've seen the toughest around.” Original Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth once summed up the endless Hagar vs. Roth debate by saying that “Sammy Hagar throws a party, I am the party.” Listening to ‘Jump’ as one piece of evidence, it is hard to argue with Roth’s assertion on that point.

 
Led Zeppelin
Amazon.com
4

'Good Times, Bad Times'

Led Zeppelin
 
 

In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man / Now I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can.” As the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s classic debut, this one could be called the opening line that changed everything. Zeppelin’s debut was one of the major playbooks that helped to later define both hard rock and heavy metal. Choosing brevity over length, Zeppelin accomplished a lot in under three minutes with turbulent riffs that bassist John Paul Jones says were difficult to both write and play.

 
Journey
Amazon.com
3

'Don't Stop Believin''

Journey
 
 

The legacy of ‘Don’t Stop Believin'’ was secured long before the final 'Sopranos' episode. The opening moments of Jonathan Cain’s instantly memorable keyboard run slowly pull back the curtain to reveal vocalist Steve Perry, who delivers the powerhouse opening line, “Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world / She took the midnight train goin' anywhere.” If you were alive and listening to rock music in 1981, chances are good that you can still tell the story of exactly where you were when you first heard this song.

 
KISS
Amazon.com
2

'Rock and Roll All Nite'

KISS
 
 

You show us everything you've got / You keep on dancin' and the room gets hot / You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy.” There are very few bands that have gotten as much mileage out of one song as KISS have with 'Rock and Roll All Nite.' While they might have been coasting creatively with the song structure, 'Rock and Roll All Nite' remains an anthem that continues to inspire new members to join the KISS army every day.

 
AC/DC
Amazon.com
1

'For Those About to Rock'

AC/DC
 
 

Stand up and be counted / For what you are about to receive / We are the dealers / We'll give you everything you need.” Hell’s house band have long been the masters of delivering the opening missive that serves as immediate notice that good times are ahead. AC/DC singer Brian Johnson sounds like he gargles with oven cleaner in his spare time, but his vocals and the overall sound of AC/DC are unmistakable and it's a formula that rarely misses. Fire!

 

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