Thursday, June 18, 2015

Interactive Intros

It should take only 2 minutes to read this blog.
It may take 30+ minutes to really read this blog (and enjoy the musical knowledge contained therein)

A musical fascination developed during my years as a hockey mom. At each hockey game, I pushed aside annoying little kids and other hockey moms so that I could operate the highly coveted post of "DJ." It was my 'goal' to claim the music system, where I would play carefully chosen songs (which I divided into files according to pre-game pump, penalties, goals, songs for the opposing team's goals-which were generally watered down picks...and many more). I would pay close attention to songs that would create an exciting arena, on and off the ice. I became an Intro Junkie. Now more than ever, I am hooked on Intros (probably because of a persistent attention deficit issue.)

The most important element for those hockey songs was the power of the Introduction. Intros are unique to a song, as their structure is generally not repeated after the lyrics begin. An average of 5-20 seconds are initially designed to hook the listener and hold them throughout the song.  The Intro gives the listener an indication of what is to come .... or it steers you onto a completely different path. It creates anticipation.

Similar to blending different ingredients into a delicious concoction, the Intro blends various sounds, instruments, and vocals into a special arrangement. If you listen carefully, you'll hear varied tempos, instruments and vocals.
In many internet chat conversations, I've read about "awesome rock intros" which name the biggies: Van Halen, Led Zep, AC/DC, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Guns 'N' Roses, Pink Floyd, etc. And they are worthy. But frankly, we've all heard 'em and expect to hear 'em over and over, so it's time to hear something else.
Today, I would like to extend our Introduction lesson and venture off the beaten path to hear song intros that make your foot tap, or conjure up an old memory. Perhaps you'll get hooked on a song you've never heard before. Likely you will recognize many of these songs and while they are great songs, most rock enthusiasts never include these as "Monumental Intros." 
Since I've shared my more aggressive nature, I'll also unveil my strong personal opinion. I believe there are two bands who are the Kings of Intros:  Rage Against The Machine and The Black Keys. I find fiery passion in all of their Intros.

Author of "I Want To Tell You," and musician, Anthony Robustelli, weighed in on the issue when I asked what may be the best Beatles Intro.  "Some of my favorite intros are "Ticket To Ride," "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," "Lovely Rita," and "A Day in the Life," but if I had to pick one (which is almost impossible,) I think I'd say "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." 
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by The Beatles

"It's so hard and haunting and after it's done the song goes in a completely different direction."

I also sought the expert opinion of Nashville recording/sound engineer and musician, Travis Humbert. Humbert lends his opinion on song Intros, explaining that "Outside of the chorus, it could be argued that the Intro is the most important section of a song, as normally, it's going to be the first thing a listener hears (unless they're flipping through radio dial and stop in the middle of a tune…) 
Today's society has become more short-attention-span-driven. So it's even more important to grab their attention right out of the gate. Which to me is the barometer of a good Intro: does the Intro pass the audience reaction test? And by that I mean, if a band is performing live in concert, and they start to play a song, does it immediately grab the crowd's attention and get everyone's adrenaline flowing overtime? Is it instantly recognizable? If so, "Step one of a good song" is complete!"
For example, check out the crowd's reaction as soon as these familiar songs start" -- 

No Doubt - "Don't Speak" (it doesn't even have to be fast or uptempo…)

So, turn off the TV, put down the phone and get comfy. Click on the song links. Pay attention to each note in the Intros...some you may want to hear twice! It's exciting to introduce you to some Intros that rock (AND as an added bonus, some of the videos are pretty nifty, too). And check out my contest below!

Peace and Rock & Roll,
Lanea Stagg

(Hint:  after you view each youtube video, click the 'back' arrow at the top left of the page)

Some Early Intros Not to be Forgotten: 
"Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry
(the audience must be in a coma)   
"Lucille" by Little Richard 
"Candy Man" by Roy Orbison 
"Daddy Rolling Stone" by The Who
(Yeah, I was trying to avoid The Who songs, but this early ditty is a forgotten part of The Who's sound)

Outstanding Chick Intros:  
"Save Me" by Aretha Franklin  

"Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin  
"Straight On" by Heart
"Dreaming" by Blondie

Slow & Melting Intros:  
"Voodoo Child" by Jimi Hendrix  

"Everlong" by Foo Fighters  

"In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins

Super "Strung" Out & Epic Coolness:
"Tightrope" by Electric Light Orchestra
(Honestly, ALL ELO songs have rockin intros)    
"Funeral For A Friend" by Elton John

Get Your Funk On:   
"Got To Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye
(I remember seeing those hockey players standing around shakin it to this -- you can't not shake it ;)     

"I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 
"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder   
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson   
"Atomic Dog" by George Clinton  
"Polk Salad Annie" by Tony Joe White

Layers of Sounds:  
"Take A Look Around" by Limp Bizkit  
"Midnight Special" by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

"Kodachrome" by Paul Simon 
"One Headlight" by The Wallflowers 
"Steady As She Goes" by The Raconteurs 
"Workin' in a Coal Mine" - DEVO

Bad A$$
"Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent 
"Hair of the Dog" by Nazareth  
"Girl is on My Mind" by The Black Keys  
"Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine

Do Instrumental songs have Intros? Of course!  Can they lure you into a fully instrumental piece with spicy anticipation? Absolutely.  The Intros of these songs will likely conjure up some unforgettable memories:  
"In The Mood" by Glenn Miller Band  

"Sing Sing Sing" by Benny Goodman  
"Dueling Banjos" by Eric Weissberg  
"Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti

Emotionally Charged Intros:  
"The Thrill Is Gone" by B.B. King  
"Bell Bottom Blues" by Derek & The Dominos   
"Oh Girl" by The Chi-Lites 

"Ohio"  by Neil Young  
"The One In The Middle" by Robert Cray (with Memphis Horns)  

"Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" by Chris Isaak   

"Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen     

"Love Song"  by Tesla  
"Renegade" by Styx  
"30 Days in the Hole" by Humble Pie

Intros That Start With a Bang:  
"Shotgun"  by Jr. Walker & The All-Stars 
"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace

Straight Up Rock & Roll Intros: 
"American Girl" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"Winning" by Santana    
"One of These Nights" by The Eagles

And Lanea's Pick for Best Intro of All Time:
This song has it all. The mean acceleration of a hot car, baroque sounds with jazzy cymbals, layered guitar licks, keyboards & the stunning Jim Morrison.  
"L.A. Woman" by the Doors

I know that it's difficult to find time to read these days ... it's a dying art. But I guarantee that if you take some time and sit back with a cold drink and click on these songs, it will change your mood.

*I want to know YOUR favorite INTRO ... send it to me in the comments section or email:
If I post your Intro pick in my next blog, you'll receive a FREE copy of Recipe Records

A couple of worthy mentions for today:

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - Prince, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood & Dhani Harrison

Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes" screen test at Paramount Studios:

Jude Southerland Kessler, Blogger for The Fest site, wrote a touching post about recording engineer Dennis Ferrante, who made magic for John & Yoko, Cher and others. You can hear her last interview with Dennis (great episode where he tells story of what he said to Yoko ("bleep bleep") 
Please read her beautiful post:

THIS SATURDAY -- I will be at Mystique Winery with artist Jon Fuchs and AVA - the star of Little Dog in the Sun. It is a fundraiser for Animapalooza! Please come see us & support the animals!



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Saturday, November 21 ~ Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute
Tickets are discounted until June 13 - so take advantage now! This show will put you in relaxation mode before the holidays kick in!
Watch my blog for a chance to win 2 tickets!

Ticket info here:

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1 comment:

Katy B said...

I think my fave has to be Petty's "American Girl." Makes me happy every time I hear that guitar twang! Gotta love Stevie Ray Vaughn's version of "Voodoo Child," too.

Great post, Lanea! Congrats on the Dennis Mitchell interview, btw.