What are your favorite opening lines in songs? Ideally, something that just immediately sets up an interesting idea/scenario/feeling, but you do you.— Matthew Perpetua (@perpetua) August 1, 2018
Here are the first ones that come to mind.
“The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves.”
— There is a controversy, I guess about the actual lyric being “waves” or “sways.” It’s on the Internet both ways. My guess is Bruce originally wrote “sways.” But I like waves so much better, and I force myself to hear it that way. Sways is so limited, and it only seems to be the word because it rhymes better with “as the radio plays.” Mary’s dress waves — that’s just so much better, I don’t care how sacrilegious that might be.
“Tank is full. Switch is on. Night is warm. Cops are gone.”
— This is David Wilcox’s “Eye of the Hurricane,” which tells the story of a woman and her motorcycle called Hurricane. Wilcox is a beautiful songwriter.
“I said a hip hop. Hippie to the hippie. The hip, hip a hop. And you don’t stop.”
— No explanation needed.
“Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans. Way back up in the woods among the evergreens.”
— A log cabin of earth and wood. And a country boy named Johnny B. Goode.
“Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe, if’n you don’t know by now.”
— I have friends who are much bigger Bob Dylan fans. But I do love the words. I sometimes prefer reading them than listening to the songs.
“On a warm summer’s evenin’. On a train bound for nowhere. Met up with the gambler. We were both too tired to sleep.”
— Tell me more.
“She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast. He was a Midwestern boy on his own.”
— If music has a Darrell Evans, a thoroughly underrated all-time great, it might just be Bob Seger.
“If I should stay, I would only be in your way.”
— I read a story about Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” and I admit it made me love the song so much more because it meant so much to her.
“She’s a good girl, loves her Mama. Loves Jesus and America too.”
— My favorite opening lyrics are like this, they say a lot and give away nothing all at the same time.
“Looking out across the night-time. The city winks a sleepless eye. Hear her voice. Shake my window. Sweet seducing sighs.”
— Michael Jackson lyrics don’t always look that great when you actually write them out. But “Human Nature” always gets me.
“Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been.”
— I guess the opening line is actually “Ah, look at all the lonely people,” which is not a great or even good opening line. But this one’s fantastic.
“She gives her hand to me. And she says hello.”
— Simplest opening ever.
“The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago, turned around backward so the windshield show.”
— Nobody has understood a single word that Michael Stipe has sung, which is a shame because the words are often beautiful.
“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind.”
— There was something pleasant about that place.
“Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers who told me I’d never amount to nothing.”
— This is how you make your point clear right at the start.
“I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food, filtered water and pictures of you.”
— Bring back The Postal Service. Please bring back The Postal Service.