Welsh launches The Bedroom Secrets
Of The Master Chefs with, “THIS IS THE FUCKIN CLASH! The
green-haired girl had screamed into the face of the flinty-eyed bouncer,
who’d shoved her back into her seat.” Despite the fact that this book
ultimately has very little to do with The Clash, it’s a great opening
line. And while it’s always important for books to begin with a bang, I
think it’s even more essential for a song to be immediately engaging,
since songs have so much less time to pull your A.D.D.-afflicted ass in.
This subject came to mind yesterday while I was deep in thought about The
Libertines. (Despite the fact that they broke up a couple years ago and
only put out one awesome album and a couple great EPs [their sophomore LP
just didn’t cut it for me], I sometimes think about this band and wonder
what could’ve been had Pete Doherty not turned into such a twat). Up The Bracket, possibly my favorite release of this millennium,
features two tracks (and surprisingly, neither is actually my favorite
on this release) that begin better than the vast majority of songs ever
written. Really. (Or maybe I’m just being drunk and unreasonable right
One is from “The Boy Looked At Johnny.” It starts by proclaiming,
“The boy looked at John/He said ‘My word that was fun’.”
some of the magic of this opening has to be attributed to Doherty’s
lewdly leering vocal, but goddamn, what a delightfully degenerate scenario
this statement conjures up! (And I’m not even gay. Seriously, I’m not,
ya cunt). And then the next lines are, “When he did it with his hat
on/Like in a saddle with his gun.” It doesn’t even matter what the
remainder of the song says- I’m hooked. My word!
other opening line that I find equally (if not more) brilliant on this
record comes from “Time For Heroes.” It begins with, “Did you see
the stylish kids in the riot?” What a picture this presents, both
visually and in what it says about the narrator. I mean, who the fuck gets
dressed up to go out and riot? Maybe this act is peculiar to
fashion-conscious British kids, but it really does seem like an odd
undertaking. Hell, if I was
planning to go out and wreak havoc, I would probably wear something that
I’d normally cut the grass in. And the fact that the person watching
this is able to disengage himself from the violence enough to critically
assess the smartness of the rioters’ clothing choices takes it to a
whole ‘nother level. I love it.
now I’m trying to think of more of these great openers (and I’m
feeling too lazy to start rifling through the thousands of CDs, MP3s,
tapes and records I own, so I’m going to have to try to do this from
memory. God help us all).
let’s see. How about
EVERYONE’S favorite song in high school (or at least everyone with a
shred of taste and gallons of teen angst), The Violent Femmes’
“Blister In The Sun.” The gloriously twisted, “When I’m-a walkin’,
I strut my stuff, and I’m so strung out/I’m high as a kite, I just
might stop to check you out” really can’t be beat. I can totally
picture a delirious, euphoric, sickly-pale young Gordon Gano loping along,
tongue lolling out and grinning at the (most likely) disinterested young
object of his affection and thinking this to himself. ‘Nuff said.
else? How about one of my all-time favorite ‘Stones’ songs,
“Mother’s Little Helper.” Were truer words ever said than, “What a
drag it is getting old”? Fuck, man- I’m now 38 and I agree. Send those
1960s housewife drugs my way already if you got ‘em.
favorite band at the tail-end of high school was The Smiths. Morrissey had
so many awesome openings- and lyrics in general- but I’m not remembering
any of them right now except for “Still Ill, which is the song that got
me into them in the first place. “I decree today that life is simply
taking and not giving/
is mine- it owes me a living.” Now that’s a fuckin’ unreasonable
statement! And for some reason the line in “This Charming Man”- not
the opener, so it doesn’t really count here- that keeps popping into my
head now is “I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to
wear/This man said it’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care(ee-air-air)”.
That sentiment and the creative use of the word “gruesome” seem to
verify just how charming this man is.
then there’s the Ramones. I probably should’ve thought about these
guys first, seeing as how they are arguably (though who would I argue
about this with? Myself, I
guess) my favorite band of all-time. They have so many silly, sick
song-openers that rule that it’s hard to pick just one. But I’ll try
to illustrate their demented brilliance by citing “Teenage Lobotomy”:
“DDT did a job on me/Now I am a real sickie/Guess I’ll have to break
the news/That I’ve got no mind to lose.” Actually, this sounds better
sung than read, but I’ll stand by it anyhow.
Coolest foreign language opener has to go to The Pixies’ “Vamos”:
Esta pensando sobre viviendo con mi sister en
. Ella me dijo que es una vida buena alla- bien rica, bien Chevrolet.”
Admittedly I’m writing this Spanish from booze-addled memory, so
it may not be completely correct, but loosely translated, it’s: “Been
thinking about living with my sister in
. She tells me life is good there- lot’s of money, good Chevrolets.”
Now, the English version of this lyric is (perhaps only mildly)
interesting, but the fact that it’s in Spanish and the song (and the
entire Come On Pilgrim EP, for
that matter) knocks the fuck out of pretty much everything else that came
out in 1987 makes this worthwhile. And the next song on that release,
“Isla de Encanta” is absolutely the second best Spanish language
opener (and song with this characteristic, I suppose) I’ve ever heard.
Let’s see, there’s got to be more titillating song starters.
Ah! The Buzzcocks’ “Orgasm Addict” is a fine example: “Well
you tried it just for once/Found it alright for kicks/But now you found
out/That it’s a habit that sticks/You’re an orgasm addict.”
Can anybody possibly deny the inherent truth in that statement?
then there’s the aforementioned Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket.”
I know I’m losing the thread here, because this song actually begins
with the song’s chorus, but I’m going to veer away from my established
parameters and look to this one’s first verse. (If you’re still
reading this far along, I trust you’re the type of person who will
forgive me this sin). “I wasn’t born, so much as I fell out/Nobody
seemed to notice me.” Wow! The literal visual of that is disturbing AND
hilarious. But when you think about that line, the implied loneliness is
just heartbreaking. What a farkin’ combo.
know, the more I think of it, the more I realize that there are probably a
monumental amount of songs with equally good- or better- beginnings than
these, but I just can’t recall them right now. Maybe I’ll do a little
actual research and come up with more for next time. It’ll give me
something to do, I guess.