Best opening lines in a song

From “Long White Cadillac”:

“Night wolves moan
Winter hills are black
I’m all alone
Sitting in the back
Of a long white Cadillac”

Originally by The Blasters but made popular by Dwight Yoakum. I think its a song about Hank Williams.


Pulled in to Nazareth…
Was feeling 'bout half past dead…

Nice. Lots of good ones from those guys I’m guessing.

I think we hear some of the best ones so many times that we forget, or the effect wears off, or whatever.

Well a person can work up a mean, mean thirst
After a hard day of nothin’ much at all

“Here Comes a Regular” by The Replacements

Beethoven - Fidelio - opening of Act 2, he’s in jail, and yells out “God it’s dark in here!”

Well it’s in German but you get the point. :slight_smile: Certainly an arresting moment.

Beethoven often writes stuff that’s way too hard to sing decently, but that part sure works.

A lot of nice first lines from Bob:

Well, in my time of dying don’t want nobody to mourn
All I want for you to do is take my body home…

I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you,
Beat or cheat or mistreat you.

My love she speaks like silence, without ideals or violence
She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful, yet she’s true, like ice, like fire.

She’s got everything she needs
She’s an artist, she don’t look back…

Well, I wake up in the morning
There’s frogs inside my socks
Your mama, she’s hidin’
Inside the icebox
Your daddy walks in wearin’
A Napoleon Bonaparte mask
Then you ask why I don’t live here
Honey, do you have to ask?

Well, God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”

When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez
And it’s Eastertime too

Well there was this movie I seen one time
about a man riding across the desert
and it starred Gregory Peck.
(Bob with Sam Shepherd)
If not for you, babe, I couldn’t find the door
Couldn’t even see the floor
I’d be sad and blue if not for you.

How many times have you heard someone say
If I had his money I’d do things my way
Hmm, but little they know
Hmm, it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind.

Heart of mine be still
You can play with fire, but you’ll get the bill.

Love that’s pure hopes all things
Believes all things, won’t pull no strings

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need,
when the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed…

Well, if I had to do it all over again
Babe, I’d do it all over you

Buckets of rain, buckets of tears
Got all them buckets comin’ out of my ears

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wondering if she’d changed at all
If her hair was still red…
And some first stanzas of love songs:

Been so long since a strange woman has slept in my bed
Look how sweet she sleeps, how free must be her dreams
In another lifetime she must have owned the world, or been faithfully wed
To some righteous king who wrote psalms beside moonlit streams.

Well the pressure’s down, the boss ain’t here
He gone North, for a while
They say that vanity got the best of him
But he sure left here in style
By the way, that’s a cute hat
And that smile’s so hard to resist
But what’s a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this ?

'Twas in another lifetime one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue, the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

Johnny’s in the basement, mixin’ up the medicine.
I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ 'bout the government…

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps.
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps…

Sometimes I’m in the mood, I wanna leave my lonesome home

You say you love me, and you’re thinkin’ of me, but you know you could be wrong.

Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thing
Death kept followin’, trackin’ us down, at least I heard your bluebird sing!

And this is cheating, but a line later in that song is so cool:

Oh, the only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk
Was to haul your picture down off the wall, near the cage where I used to work.
Was I a fool or not to try to protect your real identity?
You looked a little burned out, my friend, I thought it might be up to me.
Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat…
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat…
(okay, even Dylan can’t be Dylan all the time…)

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout…
J.C.'s the man!!

Oooo - you may just have started something here.

*There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief *


Sticking to opera, the beginning of the Commendatore scene in Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a textbook example of an arresting moment, too.

“I woke up alarmed” - Liz Phair

“I just found out yesterday that Linda goes to Mars
Every time I sit and look at pictures of used cars” - John Prine

“No don’t ask me to apologize, and I won’t ask you to forgive me” - Elvis Costello


I might like you better if we slept together

Of course, there’s always a place for the perfect pop song:

*Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is, let’s ask her. Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?

  • Mm-hm

Gee, it must be great riding with him - Is he picking you up after school today?


By the way, where d’you meet him?*


Step out the front door like a ghost into a fog where no one notices the contrast of white on white.

Yokohama Mama

“Twas in Yokohama I met this hot mamma
Serving radishes, octopus, rice and dried squid”

I’ve always thought this way the ideal rock opener:

“I woke up in a Soho doorway a policeman knew my name
He said, 'You can go sleep at home tonight if you can get up and walk away
I staggered back to the underground. The breeze blew back my hair
I remember throwing punches around and preaching from my chair”

I don’t know the gentlemen in question, but I understand the sort of day he’s having.

That is not the first line of the song.

We did this last year.

Welsh indie/punk trio Mclusky opened Gareth Brown Says with the attention-grabbing lyric, “All your friends are cunts, your mother was a ballpoint pen thief.”

They were also notable for the titles of two of their albums, My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours and The Difference Between Me and You Is That I’m Not on Fire.

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand.

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

Patti Smith, “Gloria”