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

It started playing (shuffle mode, 550 cuts) when I got to the thread.

Mine would be The Moody Blues’ Gypsy. The mellotron theme utterly slew me, for starters. Percussion, theme, lyrics, everything really.I had a vague memory of it from decades earlier, was farting around on Youtube one day after I had gotten back into the Moodies several years ago (for some reason I never sprung for To Our Children’s.Children’s.Children.

Next to shuffle here is Watching & Waiting off of the same album, for the record. [yes, Gypsy is loaded too]

Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK

I was a bit late to punk, though I had already been following pop music when punk broke, but it never got played on the radio and I had no friends who were into punk. But in 1982 when I was 14, I got to know a girl one year younger than me and we became lifelong friends (we even were a couple for 8 years in between, but after the break up remained best friends until today). She was into punk and had “Never Mind The Bollocks - Here’s The Sex Pistols”, and the music took me by storm. I already knew English well enough to have an idea what the lyrics meant, though I didn’t understand everything John Lydon spat out, but the frenzy and rebellion of “Anarchy In The UK” impressed me the most. This started my lifelong love for punk and alternative music.

Gimme some Flip Fanasia

Come Together by the Beatles. Granted, it was in 1994, but that was really the first time I connected a song to the Beatles that wasn’t in the style of their early Beatlemania stuff. In fact, I had heard Come Together before, but in 1994, at the age of 19, I first realized it was a Beatles song, and it was the first time I realized the Beatles were much more than She Loves You and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. And it was then that I began my decades-long love of the Beatles.

Like no other song before or since: The Beatles "She Loves You"

Early 1964, I was 13, and was already a record-collecting musical person. My tastes were oriented toward Beach Boys, surf groups, Chubby Checker type stuff, and a lot of my parents’ dance music. For reaons I can no longer remember I’d been stubbornly dismissive of the Beatles, probably the only kid in my class to feel that way. I can remember sort of hearing I Want To Hold Your Hand on the car radio and thinking “meh.”

Shortly after the Fabs first Sullivan Show (which I pointedly did not watch) my curiosity got the better of me and I went down to the store and bought the Swan 45 of She Loves You. Except for having half-noticed IWTHYH that one time, I’d never really even heard them.

This memory is chiseled in the stone: I got home, laid down on the living room floor with my crappy little record player, played She Loves You. Two and a half minutes later my world was changed and I was a Beatles fanatic for life. I must have played that record dozens of times that afternoon.

“Cocktails for Two” by Spike Jones
“Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants
“Urban Spaceman” by the Bonzo Dog Band
“Trouble Every Day” by The Mothers
“Good Times, Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin
“Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic
“Up the Junction” by Squeeze

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part 1 by King Crimson

October 1973, Winterland ballroom. I was there to see Steve Miller and was vaguely aware of King Crimson’s “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, but when the band opened with Larks’ Tongues that night it was a defining moment in my music listening career. To say that I was blown away would be a huge understatement. Been a big fan of Fripp and the various Crimso incarnations ever since.

Something to Talk About by Bonnie Raitt.
Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette.
Jolene by Dolly Parton.

When I heard each of those for the first time, they seemed to magically describe my life at the time. And catchy tunes, too. I keep them on my classics playlist.

My personal measure for this is - was it one of the very rare occasions when I walked into a record shop as a song was playing, strode immediately to the counter and said: “Get that off the turntable and put it in a bag, please. Here’s the money.

There are, to the best of my recollection, three:

Complete Control by The Clash - the moment I got it with punk.
Where Were You by The Mekons - defies categorization
Bob Hope Takes Risks by Rip Rig + Panic - likewise

In addition to these: back in maybe 1978, I was at an event taking place in a college quadrangle, which had a disco as part of the build-up. The DJ played the following record (which I had, at the time, never heard before) thunderously loud. In the confines of the quad the sound echoed wildly back and forth - a truly stunning experience.

Baba O’Reilly - The Who


“Come Together” was the first one that came to mind when I opened this thread. Still have never heard anything quite like it.

I guess I’ll nominate the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, heard on a tinny transistor radio sometime in '69, just as I was turning into a disaffected yoof.

I could mention two that on first hearing I knew would become favorites (Seven Bridges Road by the Eagles and The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band), but the only one that made me ever pull my car over to devote full attention to it was the 1981 theme to Chariots of Fire. I’ll still stop and listen anytime just for the pleasure of the music.

I don’t recall if Rubber Ring or Bigmouth Strikes Again was the first hook, but the entire sound of The Smiths/Morrissey, completely changed what I wanted to listen to from that point on. .

Hawkwind: Assault And Batt’ry

The Moody Blues “Question” is one of mine.

Bach’s Little Fugue in G-minor, as played by E Power Biggs on the Flentrop organ @ Harvard. As to the OP, it was literally like nothing I’ve heard in my life.


Dylan, Positively 4th Street. His voice, the lyrics, the last line.

“Breathe”, Pink Floyd, 1975ish. I had to have that album.

Thanks for reminding me of that song! I had the 8 track of Who Are You, and later the cassette. I haven’t heard it in 30 years or so. “Had Enough” from the same album had the same effect on me, although it hasn’t completely held up. “The Real Me” or “5:15” held up better.

Might seem silly to some. I’ve mentioned it here before, but it would have to be, “My Sharona” by The Knack. It’s, to me, a serviceable garage-band song with an epic, two-minute solo sat down in the middle of it.

Back in '79 I was a young teen, still listening to top-40 pop. The first couple times I heard My Sharona, I switched it off. Starts off with nothing but drums, then drums and bass - not anything I cared about at the time, and still don’t, usually. Then the vocals come in, and Doug Fieger isn’t what you’d call a great vocalist, though I do now have an appreciation for his phrasing and wry humor. I never made it past the first few lines.

One time when I was out at Zayre’s (a now defunct department store) looking at their cheap all-in-one stereos with envious eyes, it song came on the radio and I couldn’t turn it off. Aww, crap, I gotta listen to it all the way through now. Because of this, I finally heard the meat of it: that nearly 2 minute roller-coaster ride of awesome. I still remember standing amidst the cheap-ass Emerson stereos, transfixed. That solo was a kick in the head to a young kid getting his musical bearings at the tail-end of the disco era.

I’ve had a love for what is now called “classic rock”, and epic electric guitar, ever since. This song, or more precisely, this life-support-system for a guitar solo, changed what I wanted and expected from music.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkle came out when I was in high school. It was goosebump-worthy, and toma teen girl, it was so PROFOUND.

In the early 'Eighties, my sister-in-law and I were shopping at a (now-defunct) department store. We were blasted by the electronics department with what I recognized as the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” THIS recording of it was fuller, deeper, richer, and we went to find out what it WAS.

“Also Sprach Zorothustra,” by the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta. I hunted all over creation for that record!

Mr VOW (Sgt VOW at the time) was in the delivery room with the video camera when our son made his debut, at the “G” end of the delivery table. Later, through artful editing, he created a videotape of the glorious moment, with the theme to “2001.” He timed it just right, so the climax of the piece is when the doctor holds up a squalling baby.