Friday, July 22, 2011

Great Beginnings

This is going to be tough to write, just because there are so many good songs to think about. You'll see what I mean. I hope that after reading it, you'll share your opinions with me.

We all love different things about different songs. But while talking recently about song beginnings, I tried to think of the bands who have written songs that when you hear the first few notes, you're like YESSSS. I realized that there really isn't another band I can think of that has as many awesome song beginnings as AC/DC. The beginnings of many of their songs are just so classic; they're instantly recognizable and immediately set a certain tone. Of course there are a bunch of bands with songs with great beginnings, but AC/DC sticks out to me because it seems like they've accumulated such a large number of them. Plus, when you hear the beginning of an AC/DC song, there's really no question who the band is; they are great at writing song intros that are not only catchy, but also communicate the philosophy and attitude of the band. As I said, feel free to share your feelings about this.

AC/DC is well-known for their bare bones, old-school hard rock sound, as well as the voices of the band's two singers, Bon Scott (1974-1980) and Brian Johnson (1980-present). But central to the band's unique sound are the power chords and guitar riffs generated by guitarists Malcolm and Angus Young. The guitars are most often what people remember and love about the band, especially songs that feature great guitar riffs before the lyrics start (which is most of them).

For me, it's really tough to beat the beginning of AC/DC's For Those About to Rock. When I hear those first tentative notes, I immediately get a sense of anticipation; it just feels like something big is about to happen. It makes sense that this song is played at sporting events before the start of overtime; it's effective. It gets you amped up and excited. I find it fascinating and amazing how music is able to achieve such strong reactions in people. Anyway, I'm just saying, the beginning of this song is killer. The worst is when you find it playing on the radio but you realize you missed the beginning of the song (because it's the best!). There are no words for that feeling. Well, there are, but they're jumbled strings of curse words. In fact, I'd bet brand new curse words have been created by people who just missed the beginning of that song on the radio. Like this one: muthasshitcockhat. What? If you don't like it, you'll have to make up your own.

AC/DC has a catalog of songs with great beginnings. I mean, I feel like most people would recognize the beginnings to Thunderstruck, You Shook Me All Night Long, Back in Black, and Highway to Hell. And they're just great songs with a great rock n' roll feel.

OK, here's your assignment (I bet you didn't realize I'd give you homework, eh? You're probably thinking Thanks a lot for tricking me into reading your stupid blog and then AMBUSHING ME WITH A FREAKING HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT, JACKWAD). Anyway, here's the deal: I'd love to know which songs you think have the best beginnings. Here are a few songs I (and a couple people I asked) came up with after only thinking about it for a few minutes. I know there are tons more out there, so let me know which songs you think have great-beginning status.

Rush - The Spirit of Radio
Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks (love the drums)
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
U2 - Where the Streets Have No Name
Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine (A friend of mine argued that Welcome to the Jungle should also be included, but I totally disagree, and therefore it is not on this list. Except for just then when I mentioned it.)
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child
Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston
The Who - Baba O'Riley


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mumford and Sons?

Yes, I'm going to write briefly about Mumford and Sons, a band from England who I am not overly familiar with. I've heard several of their songs, and I've liked them just fine, but I haven't heard anything that particularly struck a chord with me (pun intended, sorry). But one of the nice things about having a Tivo is that I can look at upcoming music performances on tv and set them to record, even if they're performances by bands of which I'm not an especially big fan. That way I can sort of "skim" through them and see if anything catches my ear. You never know what you'll find that you weren't expecting. So recently I fast-forwarded my way through the Mumford and Sons episode of Unplugged, and I came across their cover of a song called England by a band called The National. And I loved it. It's an extremely simple song, but it caught my attention and I've had it in my head for days. Give it a listen and see what you think. Also, see if you agree that lead singer Marcus Mumford would be doing us all a favor if he shaved that ridiculous mustache. I swear it's like he's waggling it at me on purpose.


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