Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First-line grabbers.

Just pondering the beginnings to famous songs and novels in popular media.

Of course, there are those who lines are historic [-made a big impact during its time and remembered for that.] Such as, "Call me Ishmael" and "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

But sometimes, what attracts me is the explicit, earnest nature of some openings. Don't misunderstand, explicitness for it's own sake is never a good idea, just like special effects in films with no real story to guide them will always produce rubbish *ahem, Guillermo Del Toro, ahem*. But when it's employed by intelligent design, ear/eye candy can be quite riveting.

Nas, one of my favorite all-time rappers who is known for his intelligence, creativity and conspiracy theory leanings, released a new album called Nas (formerly called "Nigger") on July 15th, 2008. On it, the song "Testify" starts off with a very calm, reflective and somewhat cheerful track. He then comes on to softly profess:
"I just burnt my American flag, and sent three cracker Nazis to hell and I'm
The lyrics and track was so severely contrasted I had to laugh, as this is the stuff comedy is made of.

I also bought an Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) novel called "Earthly Powers". It was a bit difficult to find, being how it's out of print. I found one copy at a small, dark cafe in the recesses of Manhattan for $175. I think that was because it was a first edition signed by the author himself. At any rate, it was worth hunting down a $7.50 Hardback copy, so I could read the novel that starts:

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me"



  1. "You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge"

    yes it's an old school opening but man one of the best.

  2. Don't Feed The PixiesJuly 30, 2008 at 4:22 AM

    Curses - foiled again. I was just thinking about doing a posting on Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who was responsible for the all time classic "It was a dark and stormy night". There's now a competition for the worst intro to a story - named in his honour.

    Maybe i still will write that piece

  3. The Clandestine SamuraiJuly 30, 2008 at 8:50 PM

    Please, write on.

  4. Someone, maybe A. McKinty, suggested that Anthony Burgess line when the subject of opening lines came up on my blog.

    I am light years removed from being up on current music, but that opening from Nas is an eye-catcher. And you were onto something when you said it made you laugh. People who theorize about such things have said that comedy is defined by incongruous contrasts. I have seen just such a theory demonstrated to great effect in a lecture/performance that I may discuss sometime whem my wrists are a little more relaxed, and I am not at work.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  5. That opening line from "Earthly Powers" is almost a novel in itself! I can only hope there are more $7:50 copies to be found. Then, you've also got me interested in that Nas disc...maybe the best use of "sad" I've heard since Kerouac.


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