Monday 30 June 2008

Killer Opening Songs (D'Angelo's Brown Sugar)

Killer Opening Song: Composition at the beginning of an album whose aim is to make a strong and vivid impression on the listener, thus encouraging him/her to continue to listen to the record until the end.

As many fellow bloggers know by now I am passionate about music and it was this devotion that led me to analyse the whole rationale behind the first track of an album. Whichever song gets delegated this task will know that upon its tiny musical shoulders lies the weight of the whole record.

Unfair, you might say. After all, aren't the second, third and subsequent pieces equally responsible? Hmmm... not in the world of pop and rock. And by the way I must make a quick note here. There will not be 'world music' sections on this blog, to me music is music, pop is pop and rock is rock, no matter which part of the world it comes from. End of the note.

Where were we? Ah yes, responsibility. Without having any facts or figures to back my argument up, I dare say that more often than not the first single that gets released from an album is also the first song of the record and usually (but not always) the most successful. Famous singles attest to that fact. Queen released 'We Will Rock You' in 1977 and it immediately became a worldwide hit, even making it to the sports arena. 'Tom's Diner' by Suzanne Vega was one of my favourite top tunes in my second year in Uni in 1990 (I know, the album came out in 1987, but this was Cuba in the late 80s and early 90s, we used to get music a few years behind already) and alongside 'Luka' turned the demure singer-songwriter into a well-known brand. 'El Amor Después del Amor' by Fito Paez was a massive hit in Latin America. The list is endless.

I would like to kick this new column off with a song that I loved when I first heard it and that I still adore years later. And as I was playing it today on my CD player on my way to work I could not help thinking about the strange and surreal scenario I found myself in. You see, after five years working for a local arts organisation, today was my last day. And yet, today I chose to start my day with a song whose lyrics read 'Oh Sugar when you're close to me/You love me right down to my knees/And whenever you let me hit it/Sweet like the honey when it comes to me/Skin is caramel with those cocoa eyes/Even got a big sister by the name of Chocolate Thai'. But that's Killer Opening Songs for you. They finish you off and leave you lying down on the pavement.

D'Angelo: 'Brown Sugar'

Copyright 2008


  1. Sorry that you are leaving your job. Not an easy day.
    I used to think that best songs on a disc were always second tracks. Someone explained to me that first tracks used to get damaged by the needle on old record players, and by the time people realize music is playing, first track were about to finish. It is then that attention is granted to second tracks, etc. I am not sure this is true, but it sounded logic to me.
    Al Godar

  2. Well, Al, yes, you might be right and in a few weeks you will see your logic played out on a couple of tracks that I will upload. I suppose you're referring to the old LPs (wow! I still remember the old record player in my house in Havana! It was light blue and very, very old! Methuselah would be proud!)

    It was a bittersweet day for me. I was there five years and gave it all I had. At the moment I am job-hunting but there's a huge feeling of emptiness. I have decided to come back to the blog, because there ain't no use crying over spilled milk.

    Thanks for popping by, my Canadian connection.

    Saludos desde Londres

  3. cuban,

    good luck on your job search. i trust that u have made the right decision. yes, the opening to "brown sugar" is intoxicating. good opening to a song is like a solid opening to a novel.

  4. Absolutely right. I am reading Primo Levi's 'If This is a Man/The Truce' and it has that solid, bulletproof beginning that takes you by the hand and throws you into the vortex. D'Angelo's 'Brown Sugar' is the same with a whole array of tunes coming after that are just as good as the Killer Opening Song.

    Greeting from London.

  5. Good luck, dude! Focus on job hunting, the Web has proven to be a powerful resource to do so, don´t stop posting CVs, knock as many doors as you never know where opportunity lies!, un abrazo

  6. Thanks, betty, much appreciated. I will keep in contact with my 'compadres' and 'comadres' from the Cuban blogsphere, though.

    Saludos desde Londres.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...