Friday, July 03, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special I Can Name That Tune in.... Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental knob gobbler recording engineer Fah Lo Suee and I are off to California for a memorial sleepover and jam session at Neverland Ranch. Hey -- we loved you, Michael!

So posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little project for you folks:

Most Memorable Post-Elvis Record That Announces Itself Unmistakably Within the First Couple of Notes!!!!

No arbitrary rules this time, you're welcome very much. I should like to add, however, that I kinda wracked my brain trying to find an example from this century, until coming up with number 7. Maybe it's just me, but the kind of concision and gift for hooks this category demands seems to be something of a lost art. 60s and 70s examples? Gazillions, actually.

But if some of you younger kids have another recent song I've missed, please feel free to shame me for the preposterous old fogey I am.

Anyway, my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Gnarls Barkley -- Crazy

That weirdly fragmented four-beat bass and drum hit is an odd hook, but it's damned effective, no?

6. Nirvana -- Smells Like Teen Spirit

That scratchy guitar doing what you think could be a Kinks riff -- once you've heard it, it's instantly etched on your cerebellum.

5. The Rolling Stones -- Satisfaction

Still the most famous opening fuzztone lick of all time. And a still exciting record; it may be a bad movie, but as you can see, it gets a memorable workout in the Angelina Jolie comedy Life or Something Like It.

4. The Byrds -- Mr. Tambourine Man

The Rickenbacker twelve-string that launched a thousand bands and records in its wake. And the most instantly identifiable opening bass riff.

3. The Byrds -- Eight Miles High

The SECOND most instantly identifiable opening bass riff, obviously.

2. The Beatles -- Paperback Writer

Oh, right -- like when they sing "Paperback Writer" in the opening, you'd think it was "Fuck You Like an Animal"?

And the numero uno you can't mistake if for anything else tune, c'mon you know this was gonna be the one so let's not waste time arguing about it, obviously is --

1. The Beatles -- A Hard Day's Night

The most famous heavily echoed suspended chord in all of music. It is, I think, no accident that it's played on one of those aforementioned Rickenbacker twelve-strings.

Awrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Most Memorable Screen Shady Dames -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I would take it as a personal favor if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a comment. Thanks!]


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Man, this is going to be a great Beatlesfest among other things. Should be a Hendrix fest too but i'll just go with Jimi's Fire.

My word verification was "thing" -- hmmm ... first time my word verification was an actual word.

cthulhu said...

Mmmm...the opening chords from the Who's Can't Explain is pretty distinctive. Not to mention the synthesizer track that opens Baba O'Riley, and the blistering power chord with underlying synth that kicks off Won't Get Fooled Again. But you knew that...

Non-Who stuff:
Joan Osborne, Right Hand Man - the lightly flanged guitar is memorable.
Joe Walsh, Rocky Mountain Way - love it or hate it, the opening full-bodied guitar chords announce this song.
White Stripes, Seven Nation Army - the figure played on the low E string is immediately recognizable (and this century!).
Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London - the piano figure hooks me every time.

John Fowler said...

Look, all the nominations are great, but, how can it be possible to top "I Feel Fine" ??

Bass - Feedback - riff that =never= gets stale...

I guess it's more than a couple of notes, but that's the one for me.

Peter said...

"The Weight"

"Don't Worry, Baby"

"Born to Run"

TJWood said...

Five choices here:

"Sunshine of Your Love"--Cream

"Layla"--Derek and the Dominoes

"How Soon Is Now?"--The Smiths

"Whole Lotta Love"--Led Zeppelin

"I Can See For Miles"--The Who

Sal Nunziato said...

"All The Young Dudes." Still get chills when I hear that guitar line. EVERYTIME

Anonymous said...

There's a million but I'll limit it two just two:

Dave Davies's opening to Milk Cow Blues


the beginning of the Easybeat's Good Times. I have to jump to my feet anytime i hear it!


Brooklyn Girl said...

Look, all the nominations are great, but, how can it be possible to top "I Feel Fine" ??

First one that came to mind for me, too.

But there are so many Beatles tracks ... "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Happy Just To Dance With You", "Eight Days A Week", "Come Together" , just to name a few ...

Stones, too ... "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Gimme Shelter", "Live With Me", "Sympathy For The Devil" ...

Airplane: "White Rabbit"

Knack: "My Sharona"

Bruce: "Born To Run", "Thunder Road", "Badlands"

Buffalo Springfield: "For What It's Worth"

Kinks: "You Really Got Me"

Cars: "You Might Think"

Temptations: "My Girl"

And, don't kill me! But Cher's "Believe" is instantly recognizable ...

Gummo said...

Love, love, LOVE all these choices.

I'll just add the tumbling crash that opens Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."

And in honor of Mrs. Gummo, I have to mention the opening notes of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon."

CSN's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

One of the most memorably obnoxious song openings is the repeated clicking plus high-pitched whine that begins the first song on the first Pere Ubu album, "Non-Alignment Pact." You'll never mistake that for any other song!

And just to add to the number of immediately identifiable Beatles songs (really, isn't it all of them) -- the acapella opening to "Nowhere Man."

Brooklyn Girl said...

And ain't music great? :-)

Gummo said...

steve, you said:

Maybe it's just me, but the kind of concision and gift for hooks this category demands seems to be something of a lost art. 60s and 70s examples? Gazillions, actually.

Seems like, with the demise of AM Top 40 radio, there's less need for songs that grab you -- or more importantly, grab a radio programmer -- in the first seconds. A case where commercial necessity bred an art form.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Seems like, with the demise of AM Top 40 radio, there's less need for songs that grab you -- or more importantly, grab a radio programmer -- in the first seconds. A case where commercial necessity bred an art form.

I think that's really valid ... one thing I used to hate about top 40 radio is how the dj's would talk over the opening of the song until the singing started. Sometimes I would get so frustrated, I would yell "Shut up!!!!!" at the radio. A unique opening makes that more difficult.

And one more nomination: Yardbirds "Train Kept A-Rollin' "

Noam Sane said...

"I Can See For Miles" - as prev. mentioned. I like Moon's little knock at the door after that first massive chord.

"Mama Said Knock You Out" - LL Cool J. Anybody else remember seeing this on MTV Unplugged? Holy crap.

Your Love (Belongs Under a Rock)"
- Dirtbombs.

steve simels said...

Oh, god -- I lurve that Dirt Bombs song.

Almost as much as I like, from the same album I think, "I'm Through with White Girls."

Anonymous said...

ramones- rock and roll high school

geor3ge said...

Man, the Stones had a special talent for the hook.

Nobody mentioned "Brown Sugar" yet? I'm appalled. :)

ms. rosa said...

Trog me: Wild Thing


MBowen said...

Richard & Linda Thompson - "Shoot Out The Lights"

MBowen said...

Also, the three snare hits introducing R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe".

John Fowler said...

Three others worth mentioning -

Supertramp gets a couple:

"Give a Little Bit" - those opening couple of chords strums are pretty definitive for that song

and even shorter - "Bloody Well Right" - the first opening chord/drum shot I think does it, you know the keyboard line that'll follow

Most recently: I know it's a ripoff from the Clash, but M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" is (at least to me) a great ripoff. And I think it satisfies this week's list as unmistakeable from the start.

Mister Pleasant said...

Great Listomania category and choices. This week's discussion really gets my juices flowing. My list is identical with my top 10 45rpm/singles list. Every one of these is instantly recognizable with two seconds:

Lady Madonna-The Beatles (1968)
I Can See For Miles-The Who (1967)
Hey Jude/Revolution-Beatles (1968)
Fire Brigade-Move (1968)
Tonight-Raspberries (1973)
Instant Karma-John Lennon (1970)
Born To Run-Bruce Springsteen (1975)
Brown Sugar-The Rolling Stones (1971)
Waterloo Sunset-The Kinks (1967)
This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us-Sparks (1974)

Michael said...

I'm surprised no one's mentioned:

"Honky Tonk Women"--Rolling Stones
"Under Pressure"--Queen

Both songs get my juices flowing in milliseconds of hearing the first fleeting seconds of notes/percussion.

Anonymous said...

How about I mention the best musical artist with the worst beginnings to his songs: Peter Himmelman.

Peter seems to give very little thought as to how to begin his songs. The songs get stronger and stronger as they go on. He should have had to compete for airtime in the 1960's, it would have sharpened the arrangements of so many of his songs.

11th Confession is one of the few with a magical, captivating beginning.


MBowen said...

Another "I can name that tune in two notes" contender: Television, "Marquee Moon".

Mike said...


And I suppose Smoke On The Water, for better or for worse.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Spencer Davis Group: "Gimme Some Lovin' ". The first time I heard those opening chords on the radio, I knew I had to have it. Wound up buying the demo copy from my local record store!

Dave said...

I Put a Spell on You -- Screamin' Jay Hawkin's

Baby Talk -- Jan & Dean

Mr. Blue-- Fleetwoods

David said...

These choices clearly speak to the age demographic of the participants. To the average 20-something music blogger out there, there's nothing more distinctive than the opening bars of Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" or something by the Strokes. In any case, here's one for me which shows where I skew on the age continuum:
"Year of the Cat" by Al Stewart...that opening piano phrase casts its spell instantaneously upon me, and always will...

steve simels said...

The Strokes?

To me, they're a Lord Knows I've Tried band. Or as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog put it -- "The Strokes...look how cute you are. Like The Monkees with a drinking problem...."

Pavement, on the other hand, are pretty cool....

David said...

I agree with your Strokes assessment; was just saying that for those of a certain age, they're classic rock, instantly the opening chords of "Just What I Needed" to those of us who wrote in for this listomania installment....

Alex said...

"No Matter What" by Badfinger
"Making Plans for Nigel" by XTC

Polar said...

J. Geils Band "Freeze-Frame"