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

October 1966. I’m a dorky high school freshman. The Beach Boys had gotten away from their surfboard and cool cars stuff with some interesting harmonies like Sloop John B and Wouldn’t It Be Nice. But then Good Vibrations comes out of my cheap little transistor radio.

What the hell was that??? A Theremin? Did I just hear an organ? I ran down to Britt’s Department Store, bought the 45 and played it on a real “record player.” Damn, it was even more impressive than on the radio.

There were a few other song that stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard them - Nights in White Satin, Gimme Shelter, Layla, and some others. But nothing ever hit me like the first time I heard Good Vibrations.

5:15 by the Who. from their best album, Quadrophenia

That reminded me of one of my early formative songs, by the Moody Blues, “Story In Your Eyes”.

Someone’s already mentioned “Baba O’Reilly” so I’ll just second it and bring up the Pogues’ “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” and Patti Smith’s “Privilege (Set Me Free)”.

“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” by Richard Thompson. I couldn’t believe I’d gone 30-plus years without ever hearing the guy before then.

I had a similar reaction to that song, but also to his “Shoot Out The Lights”. My mouth stood open after first hearing it, and so it still does every time I listen to it.

Human Family - Dr. Maya Angelou

The Doors Peace Frog

I dug deep into them because of the Covid lockdown. Omg, Morrison really is the prototypical rock star: tall, handsome, madly charismatic, intelligent, distant. Peace Frog is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

“Around the Dial” by the Kinks. The opening grabbed me like no other tune and I ran right out to buy the album.

Ooh, yeah, Honey White. I remember first hearing that in grad school ca 1997. Wow, that was some good shit.

I’ll add Loser by Beck.
And Cannonball from the Breeders.
And Blister in the Sun Violent Femmes. That was part of the sound track of high school.

My first, and still my favorite, Beatles tune-Love Me Do.

The Blasters Troublebound from Thicke of the Night. Unnecessary intro by Richard Belzer as Bruce Springsteen and Arsenio Hall as Michael Jackson.

Like-nothing-else-heard-before-with-horizon-expansion is a tall order.

However, I was on the road tonight when I heard the following song for the first time, which led to volume-cranking to extreme roof-vibrational levels.

O wow, loads. But the most memorable:

Allegri’s Miserere
Barber’s Agnus Dei from the Adagio for Strings

O Superman - Laurie Anderson
Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty

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.