Friday, August 15, 2008

they had me at hello

I've very nearly finished reading Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother (with many thanks to the fabulous Allison), so am considering what reading material I should take along to Seattle. I have not yet read John Lydon's biography No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, which I bought while in San Francisco, but I feel like I need a break from rock books at this point. I have been reading a shitload of those lately. Besides I am still pissed off at Lydon for that bullshit he pulled on Kele Okereke recently.

The Resident Offspring has a few books lying around that look intriguing - We by Yvegeny Zamyatin, a couple of Neil Gaiman books, and this one - Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the US. Somehow though, I don't think that is the best book to have tucked under my arm as I pass through U.S. customs.

When trying to decide on a book, I will often read the opening paragraph to see if it captures my imagination. Those first few words are of utmost importance. They have to draw you in, offer enticing promises of adventures to come, and be distinct from the myriad of other literary possibilities that you could follow.

And if the first few words are that important in a 300 page novel, think of how absolutely critical they become in a song. A song allows no wiggle room for filler words, it is no place for bloated meanderings. You have to kill them with the opening line.

And with that lengthy and meandering introduction which proves that I never practice what I preach, I am pleased to bring you the return of Favourite Five Fridays, this week celebrating those lyricists who know how to present the sizzle.

Top Five Opening Lyrics:
1. There's blood in the sink, and he's plunging his wrists in.
- History to the Defeated
- the Weakerthans
2. It was Christmas eve, babe, in the drunk tank.
- Fairytale of New York
- the Pogues
3. My true love drowned in a dirty old pan of oil that did run from the block of a Falcon sedan 1969, the papers said '75.
- Star Witness
- Neko Case
4. Got hips like Cinderella, must be having a good shame.
- Tame
- Pixies
5. I don't want to be your friend, I just want to be your lover.
- House of Cards
- Radiohead


Oh, what the hell, I'm not going to be able to spend a lot of time with you over the next week and I'm going to miss your adorable faces, so here's a bonus one:

Davey stole a Christmas tree from K-Mart last night.
- Christmas in Paradise
- Mary Gauthier
Any favourite opening lyrics you care to share?
Any suggestions for great reading while travelling?

Come on, spill, we're sharing here.


Allison said...


I had not heard about this incident with Lydon. Wow. That's intense and very sad. I'm kind of gobsmacked now.

A book you should read: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I started reading it while in Spain, and its grand. Honestly. Do check it out.

Favourite opening lyrics...I shall ponder and revisit once I've hit my word count for the day!

Anonymous said...

What a great way to make a decision.
Why haven't I thought of this already?!

Anonymous said...

"It's always raining over the border/ There's been a plane crash out there"
-'Feed the Enemy' Magazine

"We will laugh the day that Thatcher dies, even though we know it's not right"
-'The Day that Thatcher Dies' Hefner

Anonymous said...

Chavez, poleease, but disregard my feelings, plenty here, including Sean Penn and a certain Kennedy, love the man. Could be the best book to have under your arm.
Read away and tell me all about it.

Karen said...

We're going to miss you but hope you have a fantabulous time in Seattle. Now, have fun but within reason. I don't want to read headlines that scream "CDN Jailed for Stalking Singer" or some such nonsense. But just in case, I've got a few bucks set aside for bail.

And I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts (and that of the offspring) on the Chavez book.

justacoolcat said...

What are the of Neil Gaiman books?

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

May I suggest you read something with a terrorist on the cover when you come to our fair country? I'll definitely come vist you in Gitmo if you do.


I was rocking out today to the Janis, Piece of my heart.

Come on, come on, come on......

John Mutford said...

"Fuck you, you're drunk, and acting tough..."

--We Will Still Need A Song (Hawksley Workman)

"If you ever get close to a human..."

--Human Behaviour (Bjork, though I like the opening of the Decemberist cover better)

"I hurt myself today."
--Hurt (NIN/Johnny Cash)

"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard but I think Oh Bondage Up Yours!"
--Oh Bondage Up Yours! (X-Ray Spex)

"Sun down in the Paris of the praries"
--Wheat Kings (Tragically Hip)

(Just off the top of my head)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

One wants to believe Lydon, but it is very difficult to. A very bad situation.
I have not heard of either the book or the author, Al, and will certain check into both - thanks. Good luck with your word count!

It works and it keeps those authors on their toes, Justrun.

Both excellent examples, RO! I had forgotten about that Hefner one! Love that song! Those heavy metal ga-urrls.

He sure is a fascinating character, Leazwell and he's always got something controversial to say!

Thom would never have me thrown in jail! Would he? Well, just so I don't waste your money, I shall behave with the utmost decorum. But it's great to know you've got my back.
At the pace that I read, it will be months before I get around to the Chavez book, but we'll sure give you a review.

I'm not even sure which ones she has, JustA, there seems to be quite a few of them in the house. American Gods, I think, and Good Omens as well, which I am leaning toward.

I'll read written in Arabic, and chances are we can get that Gitmo visit in no problem, Dr M. And if you think I'm cute now, wait till you see me in my Gitmo jumpsuit.

Oh yeah, that song's got a great start too, Urban Blonde. That hook catches you right away.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Excellent, John! Those are all great ones which I should have thought of. Although I am not familiar with the Decemberists' cover of Human Behaviour.

Oh and I finally watched some Flight of the Conchords videos today and damned near plotzed! Brilliant! I'm still snickering over Mutha Uckers and Bret, You've Got it Going On.

mister anchovy said...

When I passed through Elko Nevada a couple years back, I stopped into Stockman's and had a drink at the bar because of the opening lines of Ian Tyson's MC Horses: We were having a drink at Stockman's,
Listenin' to the guitars ring.
Jesse said "You know,they sold the M.C. horses."

Another fave is Folsom Prison Blues...I hear that train a-comin, rollin round the bend, and I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when...I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die....

How about Tom Waits, from Heart Attack and Vine: liar liar with your pants on fire, white spades hangin' on the telephone

Or... Weird Bob's Idiot Wind: Someone's got it in for me; they're planting stories in the press

Or...Sam the Sham's Woolly Bully: Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro....Or King Floyd's soul classic, Groove Me: Uhh! Awww, sookie sookie now!..what better way to start a song. Har! This is too much fun.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely the wrong person to be suggesting books, but one has been calling me for a while & if you're so inclined or interested, you know, you can dish me a spoiler or two. ;) Have you read, or is this even in the genre that you're interested in, "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold? After just having finished "The Ruins" & being completely disappointed I don't think I'll be touching NY Best Sellers for a while!

You could always pick up a little light reading by Solzhenitsyn. He just died after all, you could be all tragically hip 'n shit! :D

I'll try to bust out 5.

ah, look at all the lonely people
The Beatles, Eleanor Rigby

I don't want to be hostile
Tool, Intolerance

hey god, why are you doing this to me?
Nine Inch Nails, Terrible Lie

wait a minute, man, you mispronounced my name
Alanis Morissette, Right Through You

there are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
Rush, Freewill

7 sleeps until I get to HUG & kiss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stokedness!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That must have been a rather surreal experience, Mister Anchovy, having a drink at Stockman's! I love it when you can do stuff like that, it's like living in a song. Life imitating art.
Those are some dandy openers. It IS fun, isn't it?

I've heard of The Lovely Bones, Michelle, but no, I've not read it, so can't even give you any spoilers. Funny, though I just picked up a copy of A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich a couple of months ago, having read it in high school and curious to see if it still stood up. Yes, I could tuck that under my arm.
Great opening lyrics, I especially like the Morissette one.
Be seeing you soon! Woot!

Westcoast Walker said...

There are too many lyrics in my brain, here a few that stand out as stellar openers;

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking when I said I'd like to smash every tooth in your head - "Bigmouth Strikes Again" The Smiths

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
"The Sound of Silence" Simon & Garfunkle

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you and never will
"True Love Leaves No Traces" Leonard Cohen

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an airplane, Lenny Bruce is not afraid
"It's The End of The World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) REM.

PS - Have fun in Seattle!

Gifted Typist said...

Ya know zombie, I'm finding that all this blogging and internetworking activity is messing up my concentration.

I can still read and enjoy non-fic, but I'm having trouble with fiction.

Unless it hooks me by page 2, I'm outta there. I'm looking for immediate gradification.
Very few literary fiction books grab me any more and I used to be a big fiction reader???

Is it because our brains are being short-circuitedd or fried by the internet.

Being a Net Zombie, do you have any of those issues?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh perfect, Westcoast Walker! I can't believe I missed those,especially Bigmouth Strikes Again, as the Smiths are always up for an amusing lyric or two.
There is no end to the good lines out there.

I do believe there is something in your complaint about our brains being short-circuited, Gifted. I;ve always been drawn more to fiction, so I have had less of an issue there, but I do know that I cannot not multi-task anymore. And I think that has shortened our attention spans. But it's all technology, always being on all the time, not just the internet, I think.

Anonymous said...


Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl). Once the twist hits you will not be able to put it down. It's like magnets.

Restlessness (Aritha van Herk). It is probably my favourite book tied with the Great Gatsby. It is all about Calgary, and also a modern day retelling of the Thousand and One Nights/Scheherazade tale (I had to google that to spell it). And a beautiful piece of work. I think you would love it.

Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman). FASCINATING.

I like that opening lyrics thing. I thought of some, and then I realised I liked them as much because of the way the song starts (with a crash, or an exceptionally beautiful piano line, or stuff like that) as the lyrics. So I guess I have to think harder.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've been hearing about that Aritha Van Herk book, Ruh. I'll have to put that on my list.

I've been tricked by opening notes as well. In fact, I was considering asking people to name 5 songs that that they can id from the first note alone.

bloody awful poetry said...

Try reading some Haruki Murakami. ANY Haruki Murakami. The dude is insane! Or Neil Gaiman.

"The most tender place in my heart is for strangers. I know it's unkind but my own love is too dangerous."
--Hold On Hold On (Neko Case)

"They say it feels/If you let it/Love is made/To forget it/ I carved your name/Across my eyelids/You pray for rain/I pray for blindness"
--Crown of Love (Arcade Fire)

"Hey remember that time when I found a human tooth down on Delancey?"
--That Time (Regina Spektor

"This would not have happene/If I hadn't missed my plane"
--Rat Within The Grain (Damine Rice)

Have fun in Seattle!