What song hit you like a thunderbolt when you first heard it

Seconded. As the last of three kids raised by a divorced mother, I had no control over the car radio or the music listened to in the house. Then, about 1975, at the age of eleven, I first heard of this band called The Rolling Stones (“Great name,” I thought at the time). My older sister, a Beatles nut, managed to dig out Hot Rocks, their compilation album from '64-'71.

I think I had heard a snippet of JJF on a K-Tel commercial or some such, but the first time I played it on a record player I was stunned. Even with my Beatlemaniac sister and my Emerson Lake & Palmer fan brother (don’t ask how many times I had to sit through Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends. Trust me, it lives up to the title) I had never heard anything like it before. Even if it was years before I understood some of those lyrics – yes, I find Whoopi’s scene in that movie funny, and only that scene – this song spoke to me.

While hanging out at a friend’s house in 1979, he pulled out a vinyl record and said, “check this out, it’s some sort of weird shit, almost satanic, but I can’t stop listening to it.“ It was the combined EPs of duckstab! and buster and Glenn. I went out and bought it, then bought anything else that was already out there, and continued buying them up until I don’t know, the late 80s. And you very much put your finger on it with the words haunting and horrific, there is something amazing in which that music and their voices touch on some uncomfortable psychological places, all twisty but also delightful.

“You’re breaking my Heart” by Harry Nilsson. I think a buddy of mine had an LP album with that tune on it and I’d never heard a song with “f*ck” in it before. This is around 1973 and was perfect for youth and young relationships back in the day.

Well, damn. I saw the thread title and immediately thought, “I’m all over that!” Then I saw the part about the very horizons of music being expanded, and while that might have happened to me all those years ago in the early seventies, I wouldn’t remember it that way now. So let me just say that when I heard The Records’ “Girl in the Golden Disc” a year ago, driving, while listening to random songs on some Google music “radio” station, it hit me like a ton of bricks. From the gorgeous melody and tight harmonies, to the brief, biting guitar solo, to the almost a cappella breakdown towards the end, and oh those lyrics about finding the right girl, I was inspired to play it over and over until I arrived home some twenty minutes later. Power pop heaven, it is!

One of the songs that hit me hard right away the very first time was Owner of a Lonely Heart. I watched a lot of MTV at the time, being a college student with free time on my hands, and seeing the original, extended video as my introduction to the song probably had a little to do with my reaction, but it’s just a boss song anyway.

I mean, the video starts with Yes playing the song in a studio, totally normal and boring like dozens of other videos - then the music suddenly stops as Jon Andersen gazes wistfully into the camera and we’re transported to an eagle flying over a forest, eventually into London, finally focusing on a fellow just walking along with hundreds of other commuters … and bang, the song starts again and we’re suddenly in bizarro Manimal world. I loved it, at the time.

I was also working as a music director at a radio station when I Knew You Were Waiting by George Michael and Aretha Franklin came out. The first time I heard that I said, “That sounds like a Number One record,” so that’s something I got right in that career.

When I was 4, 5 at the latest, I burst out crying upon hearing The Carpenter’s Rainy Days and Mondays for the first time. I was in the playground of what had to be pre-school during recess when, I assume, one of the teachers put on the local top-40 channel when this was on.

It was the loveliest thing I have ever heard in my life… until then, of course. It was a sunny day, warm, and when I heard the song, it literally stopped me in my tracks. I just stood there dumbfounded, finally bursting into tears, unable to explain it to the instructors, just shaking my head furiously, the way 5 year-olds do when overwhelmed.

48 years later, I don’t remember it as if it were yesterday, once more, but it’s still there, pretty indelible in my minds eye and a perfect candidate for this discussion.

Witness by Sarah McLachlan. Still not sure what it means, but it speaks to me.

I was listening to a now-defunct podcast at work…typically, they would close the show with a random dance song or show tune – nothing too distracting. One day, they ended with a largely a cappella version of “Let It Be” that made me stop in the middle of whatever I was working on; I listed to it several more times, then listened to it several more times on the way home. It was apparently the studio recording of the same song from Across the Universe.

Not quite like a thunderbolt, but I still vividly remember the first music video I ever watched - “The World I Know” by Collective Soul. We didn’t have decent cable at home until I was in junior high school, so I had never really seen MTV even though I had heard of it. Having grown up in a conservative area and attended a religious elementary school, I had thought that I wasn’t missing anything (music television was just a cesspit of violence and sex, dontcha know), and I was very surprised to see a video that had some substance.

In 1985, kaylasmom and I were shopping in the Tower Records store in Honolulu, when I spied the album “Vocalese” by The Manhattan Transfer. I knew about the style from Lambert, Hendricks and
Ross and Eddie Jefferson, and I knew the Manhattan Transfer had some experience with it (Four Brothers, Birdland), so we picked it up and brought it home. When we put it on the turntable, we were blown away by one song after another.

But the one that REALLY knocked our socks off was Sing Joy Spring, Jon Hendricks’s tribute to Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring. I, for one, didn’t even fully listen to Move enough to appreciate it until a week later.

I have a history with Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” that doesn’t involve thunderbolts, though there was plenty of other weird weather when it was playing on the air and I had to trudge out to the radio towers in the wee hours to take readings.

At a previous (and not as shitty) radio job, a fellow DJ and I schemed to sneak the song into the rotation past the likely objections of our stick-up-the-ass station manager/owner. To accomplish this, I performed surgery to excise the screaming guitar instrumental break, an act for which I still feel mild shame. :frowning:

“Living La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin
“Mambo Number 5” by Lou Bega
I guess I’m just not very edgy.

Poker Face by Lady Gaga. I wasn’t even sure if I liked it, but I was instantly intrigued. What is this Lady Gaga??

Yes, definitely.

When I first heard Bach’s Jesus bleibet meine Freude as a teen, I thought it was the most perfect piece of music I’d ever heard:

But it wasn’t until this year that I got into Bach’s massive St Matthew Passion (double choir, double orchestra, six solo vocalists, nearly 3 hours long).

Many people have called it the greatest work of classical music ever written. I would say it is.

Last night I listened to the full Morrison Hotel album for the first time. Morrison was a dark articulate narcissistic artist. Capable of writing beautiful romantic yet disturbing lyrics. The Spy and Queen of the Highway articulated these two emotions. A lyric from Queen of the Highway is so honest:

MILD shame?! :slight_smile:

I remember being struck by this song also. For me, it was the searing, yearning saxophone more than the guitar, although that solo too was killer.

For hitting like a thunderbolt, it’s hard to beat “Thunderstruck”.


Late to the discussion but I’m going to say:
“Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox and
“Take Me To Church” by Hozier.

On the day I bought my first real stereo, I also bought the Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You. The first track is Start Me Up. It still takes me back.

Phil Collins- I Don’t Care Anymore. Just drums, bass pedals and guitar. Unique sound.

INXS- Never Tear Us Apart. Amazing start to the song and the greatness flows from there.

This recording of Well, You Needn’t by Thelonious Monk:

I thought I didn’t like modern jazz until I heard it. It changed my mind instantly.