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What Song Intro Kept Your Attention?

Above is Don Henley, co-founder of The Eagles. AP photo

Whether a song is recorded or being played in a live setting, one may instantly like it because of the introduction.

The intro, as it is referred to, may be 10 seconds or 60 seconds long. It also may be longer depending on many variables.

If you’re drawn in immediately, then the intro has done its job, and the band and musician have done their jobs. Sounds are easy to produce, but it’s one of the hardest things to do — keep one’s attention after the intro.

To me the intro serves as kind of an elevator pitch. You know the adage. If you were in an elevator with some type of executive, how would you pitch (describe) yourself or your project in 15 seconds or less. Yes, now you are thinking how to pare down your work into that finite space of time. People do it every day in all kinds of situations for all kinds of jobs.

You may never get a second chance. After all, if you don’t like the intro, you may not give the song another chance — even if you are a fan of the band or musician. Also, it happens in other art forms as well — film, painting, sculpture, and writing. If your words don’t captivate the reader within the first two sentences, the reader may put down the article or book you have written. It’s kind of a Jerry Maguire moment where Jerry said “…You complete me…” and Dorothy breaks in with “Shut up. Just shut up. “You had me at hello.” She needed very little time to make up her mind. And that’s exactly my point: we know quickly if we like something or somebody.

Here are some diverse intros to songs that certainly have caught my attention and have kept my attention.

¯“Wicked Game” Chris Isaak — The melancholy guitar reminds me of a cascading waterfall which makes me want to hear more.

¯“Smoke on the Water” — Deep Purple — Iconic guitar riff that sets up the rest of the song.

¯“Don’t Fear The Reaper” — Blue Oyster Cult — Another guitar riff that captures my attention every time I hear it. Ironically, I think it needs more cowbell.

¯“Sirius” — Alan Parsons Project — It’s a very long intro that sets the mood for the song “Eye In The Sky.”

¯“Don’t Stop Believin'” — Journey — As soon as I heard the bass riff beginning the song, I knew I had to hear more. I was glad I did because listening to that riff made me research the band’s music which has now become one of my favorite bands.

¯”When the Levee Breaks — Led Zeppelin — John Bonham’s skill and sound have no equal. He is probably one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. Some may put him first and some may not. To me he was the greatest rock drummer. In my opinion, nobody compared.

¯“Sweet Emotion” — Aerosmith — The iconic bass guitar riff first heard in the intro serves as the foundation for the song’s chorus — very innovative.

¯“Hotel California” — The Eagles — Both the recorded version and the live version from the “Hell Freezes Over” release are captivating. Whether live or recorded, the intricate guitar work is just that — intricate. When I hear either version, I want to get my guitar and learn more.

¯“For The Love Of Money” — The O’Jays — The bass part played by Anthony Jackson perfectly sets up the vocals and trumpets. “Money, Money, Money, Money, Money”

¯“Sweet Child Of Mine” — Guns N’ Roses — That opening guitar riff with its distortion and sustain signals that the rest of the song will hold the same power. And it does. I knew it was an instant classic the day I heard it.

¯“Maneater” — Hall & Oates — The bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and saxophone, all give this Motown, James Jamerson, groove its vibe. I remember hearing this in high school. Soon after hearing it, I bought the sheet music and looked at the left hand (bass) part of the piano and learned what I could from it. Luckily the sheet music was in the correct key and matched the song.

I am sure there many more songs with great intros that I have not listed here. If you think a song or some songs have great intros please email to me your thoughts.

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