What's your choice for best song intros?
July 27, 2019 6:24 PM   Subscribe

You know, the beginning of the song that grabs you and won't let go.

I'm gonna build me a playlist!

Some examples:
Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion
AC/DC - Back in Black
The Who - Baba O'Riley
Elastica - Connection
Sloan - Money City Maniacs

Not limited to rock or classic rock, all genres are acceptable! Obscure is fine but the song has to be awesome all the way through.
posted by ashbury to Media & Arts (96 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

I dont know how to do the fancy links

Over the hills Led Zeppelin
Salisbury Hill Peter Gabriel
Been Caught Stealing Jane's Addiction
posted by Ftsqg at 6:35 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

I believe these intros are called hooks. See recent previously for many more.
posted by Rash at 6:40 PM on July 27, 2019

There are too many for me to decide on the best, but here are three that come to mind:

Jaco Pastorius, "Come On Come Over"
Carly Simon, "You're So Vain"
The Jam, "In The City"

I believe these intros are called hooks.
Well, they can be hooks, but a hook need not be in an intro.
posted by thelonius at 6:46 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Blue Monday - New Order

Joy Division - Love will tear us apart

Rammstein - Feuer Frei!

U2 - Beautiful Day, it's kind of a self-care track for me

Cars - Gary Numan
wow - glonous keming Fear Factory are quite something, new things to listen
posted by unearthed at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

Boston Foreplay/Long Time
posted by smcameron at 6:57 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

INXS—Never Tear Us Apart
The Breeders—Cannonball
The Clash—Should I Stay or Should I Go
Led Zeppelin—Immigrant Song

mr. hgg says:

Theme Song for Barney Miller
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:59 PM on July 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

Van Halen - Mean Street, and we don't need to mention Eruption/You Really Got Me.
posted by smcameron at 7:05 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pretenders—Back on the Chain Gang
The Kinks—Come Dancing
The Clash—Know Your Rights
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:11 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Cake Long Skirt, Short Jacket
Danzig Mother
Led Zepplin Kashmir (And, as hurdy gurdy girls says - Immigrant Song!)
Metallica Welcome Home
Moist Push
Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil
System of a Down Chop Suey
Tool Lateralus

And in a slightly different vein:
Band of Horses The Funeral
Dixie Chicks Not Ready to Make Nice
posted by mce at 7:15 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Born to Run
posted by she's not there at 7:19 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

More Zeppelin: Rock and Roll
The obvious Smoke on the Water
Grand Funk: /We’re an American Band
posted by TedW at 7:24 PM on July 27, 2019

In the same vein as Barney Miller, Sanford and Son theme.
posted by she's not there at 7:29 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Down and Out in New York City - James Brown
Atomic Dog - George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
Papa Was a Rolling Stone - either the Temptations or Was (Not Was)
White Lines - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
posted by brookeb at 7:30 PM on July 27, 2019

Okay last one for now, I promise. What a great question!

Gershwin—Rhapsody in Blue
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:31 PM on July 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

And of course Proud Mary by Tina and Ike Turner
posted by brookeb at 7:38 PM on July 27, 2019

Ooh a couple more additions before bedtime:

Arcade Fire Wake Up
A Tribe Called Red Electric Pow Wow Drum
CCR Fortunate Son
Cream Sunshine of Your Love
Green Day Brain Stew
posted by mce at 7:46 PM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

And I can't leave out Nina Simone's Feeling Good
posted by brookeb at 7:48 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

oh my goodness Feeling Good. How did I miss that? Right - it's past bedtime.
posted by mce at 7:50 PM on July 27, 2019

Town Called Malice - The Jam
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Perfect Way - Scritti Politti
The Laws Have Changed - The New Pornographers
Head Over Heels - Tears for Fears
Head Over Heels - The Go Gos

And, as discussed recently on the blue: Wannabe - Spice Girls
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:55 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Rhapsody in Blue has a classic killer opening.

Eric Dolphy has a bunch of songs with cool openings too, I think. G.W. Is one.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:55 PM on July 27, 2019

The Tokens -- The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Roy Orbison -- Oh, Pretty Woman
Harry Belafonte -- Banana Boat Song
Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Sweet Home Alabama
Nanci Griffifth -- Love at the Five and Dime
posted by TrishaU at 7:59 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Back in the Saddle-Aerosmith
Bohemian Rhapsody-Queen
We Will Rock You- Queen
posted by hazel79 at 8:01 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

A few that came to mind, listed in alphabetical order by artist:

Isaac Hayes, "Theme From Shaft"
Bob Marley, "Concrete Jungle"
Pink Floyd, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"
Rolling Stones, "Gimme Shelter"
The Who, "Love Reign O'er Me"
posted by DavidfromBA at 8:05 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

And from the "out of left field" vaults, "L'Affiche Rouge" by Léo Ferré:
posted by DavidfromBA at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2019

The Cowboy Bebop Theme is undisputed number one.
posted by 256 at 8:20 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you are a sports fan at all, listen for the music that is played when a home team first comes out onto the ice/field/court. Those songs often have great intros/build-up and are probably trying to elicit that feeling you're going for. Two examples that I can think of from watching the Canucks in the past are Marilyn Manson - Beautiful People and U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name.
posted by just_ducky at 8:28 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

How is it possible that "Sweet Child O' Mine" hasn't been mentioned yet? Or "Smells Like Teen Spirit?"
posted by praemunire at 8:32 PM on July 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

Mars, Bringer of War - Gustav Holst
Ride of the Valkyries - Richard Wagner
Little Martha - Duane Allman
Ring out Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull
posted by dws at 8:33 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

just_ducky's post reminds me of the old intro used for Chicago Bulls home games during the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen era. This one really gets the adrenaline going.
Alan Parsons Project, "Sirius"
OK, I'll stop hogging space now.
posted by DavidfromBA at 8:34 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mars, Bringer of War - Gustav Holst

I don't know what happened but your link didn't point here. HTH. HAND.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:37 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

To add to my own post, I was blown away the first time I heard Cotton Avenue by Joni Mitchell. So odd and eerie and then Jaco's crazy single deep bass note. Definitely an intro of a different sort.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I know most of these songs but wouldn't have thought of them on my own. Keep them coming!

GCU, that's totally awesome. Made me laugh.
posted by ashbury at 8:40 PM on July 27, 2019

I'm not a huge Phish fan, but I attended a concert with my brother some years back and they opened with Carini out of darkness and nowhere and those opening chords were quite an attention-grabber.
posted by traveler_ at 8:49 PM on July 27, 2019

Oops on that link.

Mars, Bringer of War - Gustav Holst
posted by dws at 8:54 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cake, Jolene
Bishop Allen, Click Click Click Click
Spoon, Anything You Want
The La's, Way Out
posted by holborne at 9:10 PM on July 27, 2019

Jeremy - Pearl Jam
posted by fuse theorem at 9:10 PM on July 27, 2019

And speaking of Pearl Jam, Yellow Ledbetter
posted by ashbury at 9:15 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I Left My Wallet in El Segundo - A Tribe Called Quest
A Roller Skating Jam Called Saturday - De La Soul
Afrika Bambaataa - Planet Rock
No Sleep Til Brooklyn - The Beastie Boys
posted by brookeb at 9:27 PM on July 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pretty In Pink - Psychedelic Furs
posted by neilbert at 9:47 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Don't Come Around Here No More, Tom Petty
When Doves Cry, Prince
posted by Nerdy Spice at 9:59 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Heart - Crazy on You
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:34 PM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Dick Dale, like, just in general.
posted by kerf at 10:53 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

How has no one yet mentioned Layla ?

...or the Gang of Four's To Hell With Poverty ?
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:54 PM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Lucretia My Reflection - Sisters of Mercy

The moment it works its way into a mix in the car, I know that my foot is going to instinctively start pressing down on the accelerator.

NSFW! Intentionally not linked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTFwQP86BRs&has_verified=1 - Nine Inch Nails - Closer

Juke Joint Jezebel - KMFDM

Light - KMFDM

Sandstorm - Darude

It Feels So Good - Sonique

Angel - Massive Attack

Mr. Brightside - The Killers

Common People - Pulp

Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

The Chain - Fleetwood Mac

Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Layla - Derek And The Dominos

Song 2 - Blur

Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

Heroes - David Bowie

Lose Yourself - Eminem (specifically the version that skips the piano lead-in, which I can't find on YouTube)

All I Really Want - Alanis Morisette

Killing In The Name Of - Rage Against The Machine

Where Is My Mind - The Pixies

Shipping Up To Boston - The Dropkick Murphys (also Walk Away)

The Crane Wife 3 - The Decemberists

Blue Ridge Laughing - Carbon Leaf

Wanderlust King - Gogol Bordello

A bunch of Radiohead (The Bends, Let Down, others)

A bunch of Jethro Tull (Thick As A Brick, Aqualung, others)
posted by Candleman at 11:01 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Baby Love The Supremes
Tainted Love Soft Cell
Oliver's Army Elvis Costello
Brave Sara Bareilles
Gimme Some Lovin' Spencer Davis Group
Running Down a Dream Tom Petty
Soul Limbo Booker T and the MGs
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 12:31 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Werewolves of London Warren Zevon
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 12:40 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here Comes My Baby The Tremeloes
When You Walk in the Room The Searchers
You Really Got Me The Kinks
Girls Talk Dave Edmunds
All Fired Up Pat Benatar
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 12:58 AM on July 28, 2019

last one, I promise...

Waterloo Sunset The Kinks
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 1:01 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

However many times you have heard it, the opening 1 minute and 55 seconds of Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell. should be a qualifier. By the time we get to the opening lyrics we have already been on quite a journey.

A special shout out to intros which comprise an almost-stand-along number in their own right. For example the opening section of Number One Song All Over Heaven by Sparks.

Prologue from The Electric Light Orchestra's Time - is one of those songs you just have to imitate if you ever get hold of a Vocoder (like Dr Mix did last week) - lovely lead in to Twilight.

And since I diverted into vocoder numbers: you can't beat one of those for a great intro - witness Earth Wind and Fire's Let's Groove Tonight or Fat Boy Slim's California.
posted by rongorongo at 1:02 AM on July 28, 2019

(There are some great songs which are pretty much entirely intro: for example here is King Curtis's (live) version of Memphis Soul Stew)
posted by rongorongo at 1:34 AM on July 28, 2019

The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost that Loving Feeling
Backstory with Phil Spector is worth a read
posted by hampanda at 1:59 AM on July 28, 2019

Guns n Roses - Welcome to the Jungle. Has not only a better ball-tearer of an opening riff than Sweet child o mine, but is also the opening song of their debut album.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:21 AM on July 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pretty much the entire Beatles catalog is chock-a-block with hooky song intros.
A few selections...
I Feel Fine
Day Tripper
Revolution 1
Get Back
posted by Thorzdad at 5:14 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Weezer - We Are All on Drugs
Garbage - Shut Your Mouth
Eels - Your Lucky Day in Hell
Wombats - Moving to New York
We Are Scientists - Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 5:18 AM on July 28, 2019

Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

(this is the first song on her most recent album, and damn, what a way to open it.)
posted by Sparky Buttons at 5:34 AM on July 28, 2019

An obscurity, but one of my favourite openings is Dirty Boy by Cardiacs. It starts there then builds implacably for eight minutes.

(Can I also mention things like So What, Im Abendrot or the Agnus Dei from Fauré's Requiem?)
posted by Grangousier at 5:42 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Violent Femmes Blister in the Sun
Pixies Here Comes Your Man
Aretha Franklin Respect
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 6:06 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

As for other various intros that catch my ear...

Do Me! Bell, Biv, Devoe
Funkin' Lesson X-Clan
The Message Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Once in a Lifetime Talking Heads
Future Legend/Diamond Dogs Bowie
Rock n Roll N****r Patti Smith
cw - liberal use of the N word. whatever you may think of the song itself (honestly, it's not that great a song) that's a powerful intro
Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana
In the Mood Glenn Miller Orchestra (because my mom wouldn't forgive me if I left it out, and it really is one of the all time greatest "get your asses on the dancefloor" shouts)
Giant Steps John Coltrane (that opening statement...one of the greatest earworms in jazz history)
posted by Thorzdad at 6:19 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hey Bulldog, The Beatles
posted by young_simba at 6:54 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hotel California - Eagles
Jack and Diane - John Mellencamp
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:58 AM on July 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Seven Bridges Road by Eagles
Brandy by Looking Glass
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:04 AM on July 28, 2019

No Rain - Blind Melon

Stahp!! I have to staaaahhp!!
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:31 AM on July 28, 2019

Dire Straits: Money For Nothing
90 second lead-in from Sting then that guitar riff lays down and just doesn't stop.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 8:18 AM on July 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Heart - Barracuda
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:49 AM on July 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two stand out above all for me:

Take me to the Mardi Gras Paul Simon
Just My Imagination the Temptations
posted by BostonTerrier at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been re-listening to The Smashing Pumpkins' Melon Collie & The Infinite Sadness lately, and I think Tonight, Tonight, Zero and X.Y.U all fit this description.
posted by serathen at 9:18 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sting recalls The Police, which means we should mention "Message In A Bottle" (I don't recall ever seeing that music video!)

While we're doing 80's pop guitar intros, how about The Producers, "What She Does To Me" , with the nifty C chord shape moved up two frets with the top strings left open
posted by thelonius at 9:22 AM on July 28, 2019

Does one beat count?

I Want You Back -- Jackson 5. In the running for best first beat of any pop song.
posted by range at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

Does one beat count?

posted by thelonius at 9:33 AM on July 28, 2019

Dinosaur Jr. -- Out There
posted by sjswitzer at 10:44 AM on July 28, 2019

I don't know I'll just leave this here

三百六十五歩のマーチ - 水前寺清子
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:01 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh my - two music related AskMe's in a row that are right up my alley. Front the "sad sack" AskMe I'll add Dolly Parton's Jolene
posted by mce at 11:14 AM on July 28, 2019

How has nobody said Britney Spears' "Toxic"? Those strings are a stroke of genius!
posted by oblique red at 1:10 PM on July 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

Creedence Clearwater Revival - I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Bad Moon Rising
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:46 PM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

On my Ipad, so hard to link but Stomp by Brothers Johnson.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:25 PM on July 28, 2019

Beck - E-Pro
posted by freeform at 4:52 PM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Stevie Wonder - Superstition
Supertramp - Bloody Well Right, specially when that guitar kicks in. Total amazeballs!
posted by ashbury at 5:42 PM on July 28, 2019

This one may be out there, but Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. If you can get past the iconic Exorcist intro, there is richness, awesomeness, and some straight up weirdness in an almost orchestral arrangement. But be warned, it's symphony-long.
posted by cross_impact at 11:21 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Faces - Stay With Me
posted by kristi at 4:08 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Surprised to see so much Tull here, but possibly their best candidate for this thread is the searing opening to "Pibroch" (that link is to the Steven Wilson remaster, which is almost entirely faithful to the original, and much better for us audiophiles). Another strong one (more typical of early Tull) is "Nothing Is Easy" (which also has a great Big Rock Ending!).

Even MORE surprised to Ctrl-F and not find "Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding" by Elton John (it's one of those lengthy openings, takes some patience…but I dunno, it always grabs me).

Additional miscellany:
Edguy - "Return to the Tribe" (retro-style speed metal)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "Knife Edge" (prog rock but emphasis on rock; this is another Steve Wilson remaster)
Journey - "Be Good to Yourself" ('80s arena rock; their best song?)
Metallica - "Wherever I May Roam" (THEIR best song, as far as I'm concerned; though they're not as much my bag as they once were, this is a track I never skip when it comes up on random)
Savoy Brown - "Hellbound Train" (British blues-rock)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:42 PM on August 1, 2019

Armageddon by Prism (Canadian 80s prog/arena rock)
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:32 PM on August 4, 2019

That's Entertainment by The Jam “...watchin' the telly and THINKIN-BOUT-YER-HOLIDAYS!...”
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:40 PM on August 4, 2019

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