20. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (53 seconds). I don’t particularly love this intro or song, but it is so iconic that I cannot imagine leaving it out. Plus the many “cult” references to it (like “Wayne’s World”) make it a must… but don’t play it in the guitar store.
19. Angel by Aerosmith (37 seconds). I am transported back to a High School lunch room. How about you?
18. When Doves Cry by Prince and the Revolution (33 seconds). I was never a big Prince fan (hate me if you want to), but this intro deserves being on the list because it is cool and iconic even to a non-Prince fan. My guess is a Prince Purist will tell me there is a better intro by him that I don’t know about.
17. One/For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica (1:45/2:06). I am cheating again. Honestly, these probably deserve to be higher on the list, but I forgot about them and by the time I remembered them, I was stuck in the rut of the list I had created. However, I also cheated bc I cannot pick between the intros of these two songs! I like the equally. Neither of them are my personal favorites, so they can’t be at the top of my list… but I like them the same, so since they are the same band…
16. Jump by Van Halen (28 seconds). If Mullin’s song below creates a strong sense of peace, Van Halen here demands the listener to jump – how did they manage that before the words even start? If it wasn’t for the height of the competition (there are some great songs in this list!), this one would be much higher up. However, it’s my list, and I don’t like the song as much as many of the others.
15. Calling Out Your Name by Rich Mullins (1:16). Ok, I will assume that many readers will not recognize this one. It doesn’t rock, in the common usage of the word, but in the talent and skill area it might be one of the first. Mullins on the dulcimer is incredible. At the purely personal level, I might make this first! I love this whole song. It slows my blood pressure down – the opposite of #2 especially.
14. Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes (25 seconds). The random rock-feel of this intro is very cool. Explosive usage of the instruments is so cool. There is one riff alone that requires its inclusion (20). I wish this was 5 minutes long.
13. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins (51 seconds). Maybe this should win the award for the creepiest intro ever. Few intros have this level of genius at preparing us for the rest of the song… and in concert, all done in the dark.
12. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum (31 seconds). I love this song and the grinding intro is super recognizable… and stinking cool. I never seem to get tired of listening to this one.
11. Piano Man by Billy Joel (30 seconds). Obviously, in addition to the piano and harmonica smoothness, this one, like some of the others, actually dims the lights, smokes the air and “smells like a beer” just in the intro.
10. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses (45 seconds). Ok, the hair-band Guns N’ Roses was not a favorite band of mine, but can anyone argue that if anyone deserves two top-ten spots on intros that it is them? The other one (number 4) beat out Sweet Child bc Sweet Child is a pretty cool song.
9. Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi (I only have a live version). In the live version, Bon Jovi asks “Do you guys know this one?” after the first few measures. Why? Because everyone does. Brilliant.
8. Wake Up by Rage Against the Machine (1:01). Sadly, I have noticed that more modern bands are not as prone to write great intros (at least I couldn’t find many). But this one would make any 80’s hair-band proud! You might remember this one from the Matrix.
7. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (50 seconds). So far as recognizable goes, this one takes #2. Fuss if you want, but when you see the next 6, I think you will see why this iconic masterpiece is at 7.
6. Pride (In the Name of Love) by U2 (27 seconds). Clearly U2, clear Pride, and clearly ingenious.
5. Hotel California by Eagles (52 seconds) Recognizability? #1. Whether elevator muzak or pumped up through the speakers, it is clearly what it is in the first note. Do you feel like someone is offering you just enough to get you hooked while you listen to the 52 seconds of skill?
4. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses (42 seconds). What is there to say? In the era of creative and lengthy intros, this song and this band were the apex… or at least the epitome. And this is a goofy egocentric song to boot!
3. Money for Nothing by Dire Straits (2:05). And making fun of that era was Dire Straits song. I think part of that sarcastic commentary was the 2 minute intro… but it is also such an amazing intro too! How can anyone not air-drum this sucker (arms crossed over, of course)… and I choose not to count the “I want my MTV’s at the very beginning as “lyrics”. Why? Because it is my list.
2. Cult of Personality by Living Colour (27 seconds). Vernon Reid. ‘Nuff said? This song is enough to make me wish I had long dreds to sling around. When I headbang now, I just get dizzy. I know some may argue this high placement, but I love this intro, even how short it is. NOTHING makes me want to learn an instrument like this song.
1. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix (1:04). Though if I were doing this list MERELY by how much I like it, Hendrix would not be #1. However, I am a purist and I believe in tipping the hat. With the exception of guys like Chuck Berry, Hendrix is kind of the father of the talent-laden intro… so he deserves number 1.
Ok, so, unlike theology, in which one can be wrong, music taste is mostly personal taste. Ability and skill is fairly debatable, but I am not an expert on any of these instruments… beyond that, we like what we like.
So, I know that in listing these 20, I am picking a fight.
Well, bring it on! What do you think? What have I missed?