Top 5 Opening Tracks

Editor’s Note: For a brief period back in 2004 I had a little Facebook group where we would ask each other for our Top Five…whatevers.  I got the idea from the film High Fidelity, and we had a lot of fun with it.  I regularly posted my answers to the question on my blog. 

1. “Box of Rain” by the Grateful Dead from the album American Beauty.

Phil Lesh wrote all of the music, and even scatted the vocal lines before giving it to Robert Hunter to write the lyrics. He wanted a song to sing to his dying father. Hunter is quoted as saying the lyrics nearly wrote themselve coming as fast as the pen could hit the page. It is a beautiful song and opens waht is arguably the best Grateful Dead album ever made.

2. “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 from the album The Joshua Tree

The opening track to my all time favorite U2 album. The slow, ethereal feel of the organs drifting is like sitting in a cathedral. Then the quick rhthym of the Edge’s guitar fades followed the thump thump of Adam Clayton’s bass. My head begings to nod, my feet begin to tap and then ‘BAM’ Bono’s vocal “I wanna run. I want to hide” it’s like the lift off of a rocket. Pure joy is followed for the next 4 minutes.

3. “So What” by Miles Davis from the album Kind of Blue

The jazz album for people who don’t own any jazz. This is a Miles Davis album in name only, with a line up like John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on saxophones, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums this is an allstar jazz group. And it is this opening tonal song that brings the world to a new kind of jazz. Even the opening notes are some of the finest music to be played on any album.

4. “A Hard Days Night” by the Beatles from the album Hard Days Night.

From the opening chord of George’s guitar you know this is gonna be something exciting. From that startling moment John launches into one of the all time great rock and roll dities. Just one of many lennon/mccartney tunes that sound like they’re having so much fun and you just can’t help but sing a long at the top of your lungs.

5. “Radio Free Europe” by REM from the album Murmur.

A muddy, murky tune that you can’t understand a word to ushers to the world the sound that would be REM (at least for the next decade or so). Alternative college rock had been brewing behind the scenes for awhile and this, to me at least, is one of the defining songs of the whole scene. To this day I have no idea what Michael Stipe is singing about, and I just don’t care.

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