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

I don’t remember the specific song anymore, but it was something by the industrial band Cruciform Injection.

The band members were friends of the company I freelanced for, so I went to a party at Gen Con where they were performing. I’d never heard industrial music before, and something about it–the pounding beat, the monotone vocals, the lyrics, the whole aesthetic–just spoke to me. I bought all their CDs that night, and from there I branched out into other industrial/EBM bands like Assemblage 23, Covenant, VNV Nation, Icon of Coil, and a bunch of others. I can’t remember any other time a fresh musical genre I’d never heard before had that strong an effect on me.

John Martyn’s “Outside In” with an all-star group, including Steve Winwood on keyboard.

Avalon by John Tesh.
This song about had my heart bursting out of my chest when I first heard it. Pure musical joy. The radio played it a few times before I heard the artist, and I was astounded that John Tesh was more than an empty-headed celebrity TV talker.

try it

I kinda liked ‘I Fought the Law’, by the Bobby Fuller band. One day I heard a guitared-up, sped up and roughed up cover, by some band called The Clash. OMG.

Too many, because I am too old. A few:

Trois Gymnopedies No. 1, Erik Satie. A gentle, patient thunderbolt, but still;

Silent Night/7 o’clock news, Paul Simon;

At the Ballet, Marvin Hamlisch;

Take Five, Paul Desmond;

Diamonds and Rust, Joan Baez;

Know Your Rights, The Clash;

Fanfare for the Common Man, Aaron Copland;

Theme from Shaft; Isaac Hayes;

Mississippi Goddamn, Nina Simone;

Peter Gunn theme, Henry Mancini;

Well, that’s ten. Covers up to 1980 or so.

Ave Maria: Bach/Gounod

Only Time: Enya

And, many “showstoppers” from musicals.

I’m sure if I browse through my collection it will trigger some memories, but the one that leaps most readily to mind is The Mermaid by Finest Kind

Ravel’s Bolero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhhkGyJ092E

That flute, those drums, the whole feckin’ orchestra… gets right into the soul and says something.

What a great thread; thanks to OP for starting it, and thanks to everyone for sharing music. I am impressed by the range of music represented here (we dopers are amazing, aren’t we :laughing:). I had to bookmark this one so I can come back and seek out some of the things here I don’t know (since I am pretty badly stuck in the 60s most of the time) or re-listen to some of the things I haven’t heard for too long.

Songs that hit me like a ton of bricks on first hearing:

Clapton, original Layla (it still hits me every time)
Yes: Roundabout and/or Long Distance Runaround
Janis Joplin: Cry, Baby

I think this works very well with a latino element - it fits the concept of the bullfight in Spain or Mexico, its like putting it in its natural surroundings

Thanks for this link. I adore Bolero almost no matter how it’s arranged. One of the rare songs I could listen to over and over and never tire of hearing.

The first time I ever heard Jeff Buckley was when ‘Last Goodbye’ was played on alt radio in 1994 as I was driving home from the movie rental store (remember those?). I had to pull over. I drove straight to the CD store (remember those?) to buy his record. And then obsessed over him until long after his death. I think I ended up with about 30 bootlegs of live performances to his 1 1/2 released albums. I never saw him live. What a damn shame all the way around.

If they’d have played his version of ‘Hallelujah’, I probably would have crashed the car.

The first one that come to mind is “What I Got” by Sublime. I’ve told the tale before - I heard the song on the radio while at work and said, 'what is this? I gotta have it!" After work I drove directly to the record store and bought the CD, stuck in the player on the way home, took out of the player so I could spot weld into my CD player at home, and listened to nothing but that CD for probably a month. Then I found out that Bradley Nowell had been dead for a year and I was crestfallen. I did back-fill my Sublime catalog, but I didn’t keep up with the Nowell-less version of the band.

While hanging out at a friend’s house in 1986, he pulled out a vinyl record and said, “Check this out.” It was the album Mark of the Mole by The Residents. Voices of the Air was the first song. I had never heard anything like it… so incredibly haunting. It sounded like pure horror, but I loved it. Even to this day, my intrigue for the album has not waned. I still find it haunting & horrific.

Up until age 12, I was only into AM pop radio: early Beatles, The Archies, the Partridge Family, etc. 1972 brought (Eumir) Deodato’s, “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001),” on 45 RPM and it blew me away. Later, I discovered the album version, which was 9 whole minutes long (the 45 was about 4 mins) and it blew me away all over again. Guitars; Fender Rhodeses; brass; busy, funky bass lines; powerful drumming; WOW! Instant fan.

Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio continues to hit me like a thunderbolt decades after I first heard it, especially Guitar Trio, Part 2. Every performance and recording of this piece is different and I couldn’t find the 23:25 recording from Chicago that was on Guitar Trio Is My Life! but this one is still amazing. For those unaware, the composition features multiple guitars, a snare drum, kick drum and hi-hat and all the guitars play the same single note for the duration of the piece. For me, not only was the effect of listening profound, it was a partial affirmation of my own direction as a songwriter/recording artist.

Buddy Guy’s cover of Done Got Old still electrifies as does Ralph Stanley’s O Death.

There have been many, many songs that have been like a bolt out of the blue for me, but music is one of the largest parts of my life, so that’s not really surprising.

A song that I know for a fact has been like a thunderbolt, literally a life-changing event for people to hear, is, of course, Jinjer’s Pisces.

My first encounter with The Residents was when I saw [i]It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World[/url]. Like you, I was fascinated and to this day am still a huge fan.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. I was a junior in college, driving home for winter break, and I remember exactly where I was when I heard it on the radio. I thought “wow, game changer” and cranked it up. Similar close second would be “Creep” by Radiohead, similar situation.

There was a lot of innovation in that time period from 1991-1995-ish, hell even the 1990’s as a whole. It was a welcome oasis sandwiched between the wastelands of overproduced late-80’s dance pop and the late-90’s nu-rock.

There are a lot, but some stand out. When I was very small, I snuck a 45 out of my sister’s record collection. It had a green apple on it. The song was “Live and Let Die”.
I got punched into a wall (feet lifted off the ground) for getting one small scratch on it.

It was a fair trade.

Another song… well I loved the music and the message. I found out later it was ‘meant for women’… but it described so many scraps in my life and the scars they left that I didn’t care. I heard it on it’s initial airplay and after, the snarky ‘edgy’ alt-right DJ said some shit about how it sucked and smashed it on the floor, indicating that he would never play it again. Same DJ was fired for sexting young girls and jacking off between records years later.
(I hear “Todd” grows Hemorrhoids in Texas now.)

The song was “Fuckin’ Perfect” by of all artists… Pink.

This has to be Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flowers. I remember listening to the song for the very first time(a friend sent it to me). The song got me so emotional I cried over and over again as I replayed it. It became habitual such that every time I was feeling low, I played the song and there I was crying and somewhat felt much better. I remember contemplating whether or not to delete it from my playlist- just so I could heal a little (I lost my mom). Every time I played the song, I felt better. I still do. The song became kind of therapeutical if not an addictive.

I also recall listening to my friends playlist and she had this song by Halsey- You should be sad. And Oh God, I loved Halsey since then. She revolutionized my taste in music. The fact that she says whatever she wants to say and actually puts it in a lyrical form is just so amazing. I’ve had to deal with the bitter part of loving Halsey- hating G-Eazy. Which sucks.

And finally there’s Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, this song was my ultimate thunderbolt. I renamed it on my playlist and called it ‘Let’s Elope’ because (well, it’s a whole lot of story right there) the lyrics! The lyrics to this song are just so let’s elope-ish😁. I absolutely loved the song and I’ve had it since my first asshole-for-a-lover sent it to me. It sounds as brand as i first heard it each time I hear it, on the radio.