Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Side One/Song One: 200 of the Best Opening Tracks

What does Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, AC/DC's Hells Bells, U2's Where The Streets Have No Name and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit all have in common? Besides being great songs, they are the first songs on their respective albums: Side One / Track One. Figuring out the track sequence is an art all in itself - and just think how your favorite albums would sound and feel, if say Sgt. Pepper's opened with Getting Better, or The Joshua Tree began with Trip Through Your Wires. Weird, right?

So, over the last several weeks I've been compiling an enormous list of great opening tracks. The list grew to over 400 songs - way out of hand! - so I decided that 200 would be a good number. Unlike my other lists, I decided against ranking the tracks, opting to put them in order by decade.

There are hundreds of other great opening tracks, so I would love to hear which ones you think deserve to be on this list. Leave your comments at the bottom of the page. Please enjoy my picks for 200 of the Best Opening Songs.

The 50s
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning - Frank Sinatra. In The Wee Small Hours. 1955

The 60s
Blowin' In The Wind - Bob Dylan. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. 1963
The Times They Are a-Changin' - Bob Dylan. The Times They Are a-Changin'. 1964
Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds. Mr. Tambourine Man. 1965
Turn! Turn! Turn! - The Byrds. Turn! Turn! Turn! 1965
Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan. Highway 61 Revisited. 1965
Taxman - The Beatles. Revolver. 1966
Paint It, Black - The Rolling Stones. Aftermath (U.S.) 1966
Wouldn't It Be Nice - The Beach Boys. Pet Sounds. 1966
The Sound Of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel. Sounds Of Silence. 1966
For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield. Buffalo Springfield. 1966
Sunday Morning - The Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground & Nico. 1967
Break On Through - The Doors. The Doors. 1967
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles. Sgt. Pepper's. 1967
Purple Haze - The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Are You Experienced (U.S.) 1967
Strange Days - The Doors. Strange Days. 1967
Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon - Neil Diamond. Just For You. 1967
The Fairest Of The Seasons - Nico. Chelsea Girl. 1967
Suzanne - Leonard Cohen. Songs Of Leonard Cohen. 1967
Alone Again Or - Love. Forever Changes. 1967
White Room - Cream. Wheels Of Fire. 1968
Sympathy For The Devil - The Rolling Stones. Beggars Banquet. 1968
White Light / White Heat - The Velvet Underground. White Light / White Heat. 1968
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - The Byrds. Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. 1968
Hello, I Love You - The Doors. Waiting For The Sun. 1968
Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin. 1968
Space Oddity - David Bowie. Space Oddity. 1969
Christine's Tune - The Flying Burrito Brothers. The Gilded Palace of Sin. 1969
1969 - The Stooges. The Stooges. 1969
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones. Let It Bleed. 1969
Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin II. 1969
Candy Says - The Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground. 1969
For The Sake Of The Song - Townes Van Zandt. Townes Van Zandt. 1969
Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. 1969

The 70s
Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath. 1970
War Pigs - Black Sabbath. Paranoid. 1970
Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin III. 1970
Down On The Street - The Stooges. Fun House. 1970
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye. What's Going On. 1971
Changes - David Bowie. Hunky Dory. 1971
Baba O'Riley - The Who. Who's Next. 1971
The Wind - Cat Stevens. Teaser And The Firecat. 1971
Imagine - John Lennon. Imagine. 1971
Five Years - David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust. 1972
Rocks Off - The Rolling Stones. Exile On Main St. 1972
Feel - Big Star. #1 Record. 1972
Vicious - Lou Reed. Transformer. 1972
Metal Guru - T. Rex. The Slider. 1972
Sweet Jane - Mott The Hoople. All The Young Dudes. 1972
Speak To Me / Breathe - Pink Floyd. The Dark Side Of The Moon. 1973
Still Feeling Blue - Gram Parsons. GP. 1973
Search And Destroy - The Stooges. Raw Power. 1973
Do The Strand - Roxy Music. For Your Pleasure. 1973
Get Up, Stand Up - The Wailers. Burnin'. 1973
Personality Crisis - New York Dolls. New York Dolls. 1973
Return Of The Grievous Angel - Gram Parsons. Grievous Angel. 1974
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd. Second Helping. 1974
O My Soul - Big Star. Radio City. 1974
Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen. Born To Run. 1975
Once Bitten Twice Shy - Ian Hunter. Ian Hunter. 1975
Tangled Up In Blue - Bob Dylan. Blood On The Tracks. 1975
More Than A Feeling - Boston. Boston. 1976
Hotel California - The Eagles. Hotel California. 1976
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. 1976
Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy. Jailbreak. 1976
Blitzkrieg Bop - Ramones. Ramones. 1976
Station To Station - David Bowie. Station To Station. 1976
Lust For Life - Iggy Pop. Lust For Life. 1977
Holidays In The Sun - Sex Pistols. Never Mind The Bollocks. 1977
We Will Rock You - Queen. News Of The World. 1977
I Am The Cosmos - Chris Bell. I Am The Cosmos. 1978
Runnin' With The Devil - Van Halen. Van Halen. 1978
Disorder - Joy Division. Unknown Pleasures. 1979
10:15 Saturday Night - The Cure. Three Imaginary Boys. 1979
Dreaming - Blondie. Eat To The Beat. 1979
Highway To Hell - AC/DC. Highway To Hell. 1979
London Calling - The Clash. London Calling. 1979
Fantastic Voyage - David Bowie. Lodger. 1979
Me! I Disconnect From You - Tubeway Army / Gary Numan. Replicas. 1979

The 80s
The Spirit Of Radio - Rush. Permanent Waves. 1980
Hells Bells - AC/DC. Back In Black. 1980
I Will Follow - U2. Boy. 1980
Dark Entries - Bauhaus. In The Flat Field. 1980
Atrocity Exhibition - Joy Division. Closer. 1980
Requiem - Killing Joke. Killing Joke. 1980
Ace Of Spades - Motorhead. Ace Of Spades. 1980
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey. Escape. 1981
Spellbound - Siouxsie and the Banshees. Juju. 1981
Tom Sawyer - Rush. Moving Pictures. 1981
More Than This - Roxy Music. Avalon. 1982
One Hundred Years - The Cure. Pornography. 1982
Almost With You - The Church. The Blurred Crusade. 1982
Cavity - First Communion - Christian Death. Only Theatre Of Pain. 1982
20 Eyes - The Misfits. Walk Among Us. 1982
Rio - Duran Duran. Rio. 1982
Money Changes Everything - Cyndi Lauper. She's So Unusual. 1983
Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2. War. 1983
Radio Free Europe - R.E.M. Murmur. 1983
She's In Parties - Bauhaus. Burning From The Inside. 1983
Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics. Touch. 1983
Reel Around The Fountain - The Smiths. The Smiths. 1984
The Ghost In You - The Psychedelic Furs. Mirror Moves. 1984
The Boys Of Summer - Don Henley. Building The Perfect Beast. 1984
A Sort Of Homecoming - U2. The Unforgettable Fire. 1984
Harborcoat - R.E.M. Reckoning. 1984
Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen. Born In The U.S.A. 1984
Let's Go Crazy - Prince and the Revolution. Purple Rain. 1984
In Between Days - The Cure. The Head On The Door. 1985
Ho Ka Hey - Psi Com. Psi Com. 1985
Just Like Honey - The Jesus and Mary Chain. Psychocandy. 1985
If There's A Heaven Above - Love and Rockets. Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven. 1985
Guitar Town - Steve Earle. Guitar Town. 1986
The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths. The Queen Is Dead. 1986
Battery - Metallica. Master Of Puppets. 1986
Red Rain - Peter Gabriel. So. 1986
Trip Away - Jane's Addiction. XXX. 1987
Never Let Me Down Again - Depeche Mode. Music For The Masses. 1987
Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N' Roses. Appetite For Destruction. 1987
Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil. Diesel And Dust. 1987
Where The Streets Have No Name - U2. The Joshua Tree. 1987
Dominion / Mother Russia - Sisters Of Mercy. Floodland. 1987
Darklands - The Jesus and Mary Chain. Darklands. 1987
Up The Beach - Jane's Addiction. Nothing's Shocking. 1988
Stigmata - Ministry. The Land Of Rape And Honey. 1988
Handle With Care - The Traveling Wilburys. Volume One. 1988
South Of Heaven - Slayer. South Of Heaven. 1988
Copperhead Road - Steve Earle. Copperhead Road. 1988
Cult Of Personality - Living Colour. Vivid. 1988
Debaser - Pixies. Doolittle. 1989
Blew - Nirvana. Bleach. 1989
I Wanna Be Adored - The Stone Roses. The Stone Roses. 1989
Plainsong - The Cure. Disintegration. 1989
Thieves - Ministry. The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. 1989
Head Like A Hole - Nine Inch Nails. Pretty Hate Machine. 1989
Deep Ocean Vast Sea - Peter Murphy. Deep. 1989
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty. Full Moon Fever. 1989
Romeo Had Juliette - Lou Reed. New York. 1989
Sun King - The Cult. Sonic Temple. 1989
Good Time Boys - Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mother's Milk. 1989

The 90s
Stop! - Jane's Addiction. Ritual de lo Habitual. 1990
Dirty Boots - Sonic Youth. Goo. 1990
Halah - Mazzy Star. She Hangs Brightly. 1990
Holy Wars...The Punishment Due - Megadeth. Rust In Peace. 1990
Thunderstruck - AC/DC. The Razor's Edge. 1900
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana. Nevermind. 1991
Zoo Station - U2. Achtung Baby. 1991
Enter Sandman - Metallica. Metallica. 1991
Only Shallow - My Bloody Valentine. Loveless. 1991
Born Of Frustration - James. Seven. 1992
Lost Horizons - Gin Blossoms. New Miserable Experience. 1992
Out To Get You - James. Laid. 1993
Regret - New Order. Republic. 1993
So Young - Suede. Suede. 1993
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star. So Tonight That I Might See. 1993
Grace Cathedral Park - Red House Painters. Red House Painters. 1993
Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins. Siamese Dream. 1993
Sadness - Porno For Pyros. Porno For Pyros. 1993
Zooropa - U2. Zooropa. 1993
Round Here - Counting Crows. August And Everything After. 1994
Rock 'n' Roll Star - Oasis. Definitely Maybe. 1994
Now My Heart Is Full - Morrissey. Vauxhall & I. 1994
Words - Low. I Could Live In Hope. 1994
Feel The Pain - Dinosaur Jr. Without A Sound. 1994
Ode To My Family - The Cranberries. No Need To Argue. 1994
Seven - Sunny Day Real Estate. Seven. 1994
The Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils - Morrissey. Southpaw Grammar. 1995
Galaxie - Blind Melon. Soup. 1995
Planet Telex - Radiohead. The Bends. 1995
Mirror To My Woman's Mind - Peter Murphy. Cascade. 1995
Hello - Oasis. (What's The Story) Morning Glory? 1995
Needle In The Hay - Elliott Smith. Elliott Smith. 1995
Misunderstood - Wilco. Being There. 1996
Trash - Suede. Coming Up. 1996
Walls (Circus) - Tom Petty. She's The One. 1996
Into My Arms - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The Boatman's Call. 1997
Airbag - Radiohead. OK Computer. 1997
Tomorrow - James. Whiplash. 1997
Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve. Urban Hymns. 1997
Pure Morning - Placebo. Without You I'm Nothing. 1998
It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career - Belle & Sebastian. Boy With The Arab Strap. 1998

The 00s
Beautiful Day - U2. All That You Can't Leave Behind. 2000
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart - Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. 2002
The Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash. American IV: The Man Comes Around. 2002
We Are All Made Of Stars - Moby. 18. 2002
Glenn Tipton - Sun Kil Moon. Ghosts Of The Great Highway. 2003
Miseria Cantare - AFI. Sing The Sorrow. 2003
The New Year - Death Cab For Cutie. Transatlanticism. 2003
Coast To Coast - Elliott Smith - From A Basement On The Hill. 2004
Hope There's Someone - Antony and the Johnsons. I Am A Bird Now. 2005
Monkey - Low. The Great Destroyer. 2005
Oh Mary - Neil Diamond. 12 Songs. 2005
Smile - Lily Allen. Alright, Still. 2006
Good Days, Bad Days - Richard Butler. Richard Butler. 2006
Fake Empire - The National. Boxer. 2007
Bubbles - James. Hey Ma. 2008
I Just Can't Take It Anymore - The Lemonheads. Varshons. 2009
100 Years Old - Audra. Everything Changes. 2009
Everyone's At It - Lily Allen. It's Not Me, It's You. 2009
Crystal Visions - Big Pink. A Brief History Of Love. 2009

The 10s
Terrible Love - The National. High Violet. 2010
Second Song - TV On The Radio. Nine Types Of Light. 2011
Try To Sleep - Low. C'mon. 2011

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  1. No Black Dog - Led Zep 4. I am disappointed.

    Extra points for O My Soul though.

  2. I had Black Dog on my list, but cut it at the last minute. I was wondering when someone was going to notice it's absence. Happy to see you are a Big Star fan. Thanks for stopping by! - Bret.