The Top 10: Best Opening Lines of Songs

What do you mean, you don’t agree with these? And no, there is nothing from The Beatles

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Saturday 11 February 2017 11:21
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Feeling supersonic? Oasis know what you mean
Feeling supersonic? Oasis know what you mean

This was how my Top 10s started, six years ago. The suggestion came from Louise Mensch, then still an MP, who said “Supersonic” had the “best opening lines of any song ever”. This was on Twitter, which is why there is a 140-character limit. I compiled a list, initially of seven, on the Independent Blogs. It became a Top 24 (the original posts are archived here, here and here), and lists became an irregular blog feature.

1. “I need to be myself / I can’t be no one else / I’m feeling supersonic / Give me gin and tonic. / You can have it all but how much do you want it?” Oasis, “Supersonic”. Nominated by Louise Mensch.

2. “I don’t go to therapy to find out if I’m a freak.” Dar Williams, “What Do You Hear In These Sounds”. Thanks to Chris Dillow for introducing me to this one.

3. “The case was pulled from under the bed. / She made a call to a sympathetic friend / And made arrangements.” Squeeze, “Another Nail in My Heart”.

4. “I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving. / England is mine and it owes me a living.” The Smiths, “Still Ill.” Nominated by Citizen Sane six years ago.

5. “We’ll be fighting in the streets / With our children at our feet.” The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Steve Lawrence fights his way onto this new list.

6. “She came from Greece. She had a thirst for knowledge. / She studied sculpture at Saint Martin’s College.” Pulp, “Common People”. From Louise Ankers.

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7. “‏It’s a godawful small affair / To the girl with the mousy hair.” David Bowie, “Life on Mars?” Andrew Meldrum, on his third attempt.

8. “Once upon a time you dressed so fine / Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?” Bob Dylan, “Like a Rolling Stone”. Thanks to Borderlinefools.

9. “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces.” Pink Floyd, “One of These Days”.

10. “I see a red door and I want it painted black. / No colours any more, I want them to turn black.” Rolling Stones, “Paint It Black”.

A lot of nominations for “Up the Junction” by Squeeze, but I took only one entry per songwriter, so no “Trudging slowly over wet sand / Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen” (Morrissey), and, not only was Chris Difford already in at no 3, but “Up the Junction” has already featured in Top 10 Songs Without A Chorus and Top 10 Songs Whose Titles Are Only in the Final Words.

Also, some nominators seemed to think that The Beatles were acceptable. They have featured only in Top 10 Worst Beatles Songs, which was the first list in The Independent on Sunday magazine in 2013.

Next week: Fictional pubs, such as the Moon Under Water, the Three Broomsticks and the Prancing Pony

Coming soon: Expressions used only in the negative (does anyone mince their words?)

The e-book of Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop is just £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to top10@independent.co.uk

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