One hallmark of a great song is a great first line. There’s nothing quite like a killer lyrical opening to draw in the listener and keep them interested. This will be the first in an ongoing series of songs with great first lines.
This time the focus is on punk songs with great first lines. Each of these songs opens with a gem and what’s even cooler is that most of these are album openers as well. The first one up is…
Descendents – “Coolidge”
I’m not a cool guy anymore
as if I ever was before…
Is there a better band than the Descendents? Debatable…maybe. This one is great because it encapsulates the band’s whole vibe in just two lines. What’s really crazy about this one is that it was the first song Karl Alvarez wrote upon joining the band. Step: Join Descendents. Step: Write “Coolidge.” Wow.
The Ergs – “First Song, Side One”
I’m in love, I’m in trouble
Hearing things, seeing double
Not only is this a great first line of a song, but it’s the first line of the album. Perfect! Like “Coolidge,” so much of The Ergs is conveyed in just these couple of lines. Now if they would just get back together and keep writing perfect forlorn love songs.
Bad Religion – “Generator”
Like a rock, like a planet
Like a fucking atom bomb…
Another album opener that shows so much of the character of the band. This one is great because not only do these lyrics immediately pull you in, but the presentation on the studio version with the guitar start-and-stops and drum rolls highlight the vocals so well. I’ve also always liked how they do this song live with the low-key opening, as shown above.
Tony Molina – “Nowhere to Go”
I’ve got to leave this town ‘cuz all my friends,
they like me more when I am not around
I still get a laugh every time I hear this line and as the first song on the record, it gets things going so well. I couldn’t find a postable version with just this song, so enjoy the whole LP, even though it’s only 12 minutes long!
Jawbreaker – “Boxcar”
You’re not punk and I’m telling everyone
Save your breath, I never was one
This one is almost too obvious, but how could I leave it off? Jawbreaker was responsible for some of the best lyrics from a punk band and this song is about whatever “punk” is. Snide and relate-able – what’s more punk than that?
Look for another installment of “Great First Lines” with a different theme, coming soon!