Top Five Songs ... 01.01.2021
DFM Masthead Disenfranchised FM Cuckoo's Eleven Top Five Songs Armchair Producer Music MD Tin Cans Scratch Take Life and Times Input


The good news is that we've officially left 2020 behind. The bad news is that I missed my deadline for my last three Top Five Songs. I'll take that trade-off any day of the week.

I've looked forward to writing about this theme for years. It's been a long-debated theme with friends, to the point where two of their picks are featured in this list. I'm not talking about walk-up songs for baseball, or other sports, for that matter. This theme is strictly limited to the introduction music played just as the musical act takes the stage. Over the past year, we've missed out on so many moments marking the human experience; among them is live music. I found myself thinking about what it would be like to return to normal and attend a concert. After all this time social distancing, it will be refreshing to congregate indoors safely and savor the experience.

One of my favorites about attending concerts is the moment when the background music is cut and the lights turn down. It's an electric moment that can set the stage for next few hours. Over the years, I've seen bands who've vamped their own tracks, and bands who've spent next to no time choosing a song (Oasis went both routes, vamping "F***ing the the Bushes" in 2000 and "Louie Louie" on the Tour of Brotherly Love Tour in 2001). These are my top picks for walk-out music once live music returns.

As usual, no Beatles or Stones songs are permitted in the list. Here are my top five:

HONORABLE MENTION - King Harvest, "Dancing in the Moonlight"

Start time: 0:00

Band entrance: 0:17

Back when I started playing live sets, I spent an exorbitant amount of time considering walk-out music. My friend Natalie suggested this track, which I'll definitely use if I ever play live again.

NUMBER FIVE - Sly and the Family Stone, "Dance to the Music"

Start time: 2:00

Band entrance: 2:32

Starting this track around the two-minute mark allows for an upbeat brass fanfare, followed by the immediate transition into the a cappella scat. By the time the hook kits, heads are bopping and the band is ready to walk out on stage.

NUMBER FOUR - The Velvet Underground, "Sweet Jane"

Start time: 0:00

Band entrance: 0:17

Steve Hunter and Rick Wagner's twin guitar into to the song provides the perfect amount of mysticism as the lights go down. Enough audience members would recognize it immediately. Four bars later, as the D/A/G chord progression begins, everyone in the audience has caught on and the stage is properly set..

NUMBER THREE - U2, "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" [1991]

Start time: 0:00

Band entrance: 1:06

As the synth arrangements begin, Bono croons one of his trademark lines, "I want to get it wrong / can't always be strong." As The Edge begins his pedal magic around the 45-second mark, it's a perfect transition into an upbeat start to a concert

NUMBER TWO - Dire Straits, "Money for Nothing" [1985]

Start time: 0:00

Band entrance: 1:51

I hesitated to include this song in any of my lists, due to the f-word that gets dropped multiple times in the second verse. Even though I believe Mark Knopfler wrote this in the character voice of a blue-collar laborer, what was once acceptable language is no longer so; after further airtime for this song should edit out the f-word, full stop. Hell, they could use the word "yo-yos" that he used in the first verse. It's a shame Knopfler opted to pen the song as is, because the intro sequence is stunning. As Sting pleas for his MTV now take an ironic tone, and the drum intro swells, you can close your eyes and picture the stage lights embellishing a moment frozen in time. By the time the guitar riff kicks in, you may be saying Knopfler's lyrics to yourself: "I should've learned to play the guitar."

NUMBER ONE - The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again" [1971]

Start time: 6:36

Band entrance: 7:52

My brother-in-law Ant (who I wrote about here) also helped me with suggestions on this list, all the way back in 2003. Joan Jett (!!!) used this as an opener back in the Eighties; he was at the concert and considered it the best band intro ever. Joan Jett kept it simple by starting at the track's beginning, but I prefer to use a later starting point. Townshend's work on the Lowrey organ is an immediately recognizable vamp, which runs for a full minute before Moon's drum work kicks in (literally). Daltrey's howl ten seconds later is follwed shortly with the claim, "Meet the new boss / same as the old boss." Originally, I had this tabbed for a band making a comeback tour, but then again, after the year we've all had, anyone could use this song and they'd blow the roof.

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