Rock Intros


I have lists. Lots of lists. Not sure why, It’s just what I do. One of my lists is the best introductions to a rock/pop song. Generally the intro is musical, but sometimes it will be lyrical. The difference between an opening riff and an intro, for me, is the length. All intros have to be at least 1 minute or more in length. So here is my Top Ten Musical Introduction playlist.

  1. Johnny Cougar’s “I Need A Lover (Who won’t drive me crazy)”. Coming in at 5 minutes, 35 seconds, the musical intro comes in at 2:29 before singing starts. John started off Johnny Cougar (Lover was on his first album, released in Australia), then became John Cougar Mellencamp (song re-released under this name were it made it to #28), then John Mellencamp, and now he may be back to Cougar, I’m not sure. He’s a pretty left leaning rocker type, but his heart in is in the heartland and he’s done lots of farm benefits over the years. This song debuted in 1979 and has been a staple on classic rock ever since. After swearing off marriage, he is now engaged to Meg Ryan. Good luck to both of them.

  2. Elton John’s “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” is Elton’s reflective mood on what he would want played at his funeral. At 11 minutes long, it got little radio airplay until Album Oriented Rock (AOR) came along. When the lyrics kick in, the song moves pretty quickly. Great song and I love the transition to the signing.

  3. Pure Prairie League’s “Falling In And Out Of Love” is the intro song to “Amie” (their big hit), and while it’s technically a song in its own right, it’s segue to Amie makes make most stations play it along with Amie. At 2:27, the original version wasn’t long enough to be a stand along song, so later it was beefed up a little to make it stand on its own.

  4. Van Halen’s “Eruption” is an instrumental played by Eddie Van Halen that is the introduction to “You Really Got Me”. The songs are usually played in tandem, hence inclusion on my list. The song as not destined for an album, but the producer liked it so much when Eddie played it that he put it in the album. The song does erupt, right into “You Really Got Me.” Great music.

  5. “Eminence Front” by the Who has a great intro that can’t be confused with anything else. A very distinctive opening for the Who, and face it, while they had some great songs, this one stands out. Pete Townshend wrote and sang lead, and describes the song as being about overindulgence, especially of white powder.

  6. Steve Miller’s version of “Jet Airliner” is next on my list. It’s unmistakable opening gets you ready to sing the song. I’ve been to a lot of old rocker’s concerts over the past few years. I saw Steve after a Braves games. Not good. He sounded old. I hope it was the stadium.

  7. “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations, at over 11 minutes long, is next. It’s a song that DJs played so they could get a bathroom break, it was that long. I heard this in a restaurant just the other day, and it reminded me to do this column. Great funky song.

  8. Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie” is a lead-in to “Crazy On You”, their Billboard #35 hit off their Dreamboat Annie album. At only 1:10, the song was too short for airplay, but when it is played before Crazy On You, it’s a sweet little diddy.

  9. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin deserves a spot in my Top Ten. The first few chords tell you immediately that the soaring vocals of Robert Plant are soon to come as Stairway lifts you toward a higher place. One of my favorite songs (#4 All Time), Stairway is the leading anthem song of the age.

  10. Finally, Al Stewart’s “Year Of The Cat” captures my tenth spot. A beautiful opening to the song which incorporates some Casablanca, Vietnamese astrology and “The Year Of The Cat.” I never picked up on the Casablanca references before now, see if you can hear them the next time.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics or anything that strikes him. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see and visit his website  www.kellyrburke.comto view prior columns.

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