Opening lines

A little quiz to end the week with.

Below are some very fine opening lines to songs. Can you identify them all?

Please add any other examples worthy of note – the ones that earn the swiftest of cheers at concerts as mass recognition kicks in, the ones that hook you in from the get-go as they’re indicative of a good story or trigger your emotions – but please hold back the artist and song title so that we can all play the guessing game for at least a short while. (Much needed exercise for a tired brain on a Friday?)

I know that you’ll know these three, all from the same album:

“Did you know it was all going to go so wrong for you?”
“Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young”
“Where were you when I was burned and broken?”

Speaking of that album (The Division Bell, if you need help), time is running out on Royal Mail’s Big Month of Music promotion. Purchase those special Pink Floyd stamps online and your name, as long as you’re a UK resident aged 18 or over, will be entered into the next daily prize draw to win iTunes gift cards totalling £1,000. The last daily draw is on Wednesday 31 March.

If you have some already, do tell: have you used them, or stashed them away for safekeeping?

Well, that’s all for another week. Have a good weekend, don’t forget Earth Hour tomorrow… and remember: no cheating.

01. “There is a house in New Orleans”
02. “Sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land”
03. “I look over yonder, hot sun turning over”
04. “Tommy used to work on the docks”
05. “The wind is in from Africa and last night I couldn’t sleep”
06. “I was dreaming when I wrote this”
07. “I met a Frenchman in a field last night, he was out there with an easel”
08. “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day”
09. “Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation”
10. “I’m in the phone booth, it’s the one across the hall”
11. “Libraries gave us power, then work came and made us free”
12. “If not for you, babe, I couldn’t find the door”
13. “All I can say is that my life is pretty plain”
14. “This happened once before when I came to your door”
15. “She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene”
16. “Everybody’s talking and no-one says a word”
17. “Richard’s on the street with all the lonely people trying to get a job”
18. “You know you could’ve been a wonder”
19. “I just wanna ask the question: Who really cares?”
20. “Childhood living is easy to do”
21. “I like to dream right between the sound machine”
22. “Hello, Darkness, my old friend”
23. “There she stood in the street, smiling from her head to her feet”
24. “When they poured across the border, I was cautioned to surrender”
25. “I am the key to the lock in your house”

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

72 thoughts on “Opening lines”

  1. “Did you know it was all going to go so wrong for you?”

    The best song on the Divison Bell – Poles Apart. The best verse is this: ‘I thought of you, and the years of all the sadness fell away from me.’

    “Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young”

    The heavy duty teacher’s song, High Hopes. They have high hopes and their hunger is STILL, STILL, STILL unsatisfied. Sorry boys, you do have high hopes I guess. So the wheel will never be turned unlike the teacher character turning the wheel in the accompanying film.

    “Where were you when I was burned and broken?”

    This the most romantic song on The Division Bell, Coming Back to Life. Was this song really written for Polly?

    Whose words was she hanging herself on and what words was she dying to believe in? Why was he waiting for the shining sun, when he already had his shining sun.

    1. Good to see I’m not the only one for whom Poles Apart was the high point of Division Bell – that used to keep me awake at night, for 2 weeks after I first heard it, the acoustic intro would circle around my head when I climbed into bed. Just great.

      Did you know…

  2. I bought several sheets of the stamps and I live in Oklahoma, US. I had planned on giving them to my close family and friends, but forget it… I’m keeping them all.

    The Royal Mail shipped the stamps quickly and very well packaged.

    Those opening line songs can only be done with NO other music around.

    On Julie’s comment on Coming Back to Life, I have always thought that song was about someone finding their inner strength after being dependant on someone else for emotional needs. That is what you have to love about all David’s and Pink Floyd’s lyrics… it can have different meanings from all of our different life experiences.

  3. Funny enough, I just finished listening to the Division Bell this morning. Actually I’ve been listening to PF all week. I started something a few months ago with my iPod where I am playing all the songs on it in a row. It’s an exercise of making sure I like what I’ve put on the darn thing. I started with AC/DC way back when and this week I am in the Ps with PF.

    Some of my favorite opening lines are:

    “Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste.”
    “If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says 15 miles to the…”
    “In my rear view mirror the sun is going down.”
    “Hello… is there anybody in there?”



    1. “In my rear view mirror the sun is going down.”

      This is also one of my favourites, Andrew.

      “And as the wind shield melts, my tears evaporate
      Leaving only charcoal to defend.”

    2. That line gets me as well and may be one of the best lyrics ever written. That whole song is just so powerful lyrically. As for musically it also has an incredible balance with one of the most beautiful sax solos as it winds down.

      In fact, listening to that whole album earlier this week, I get very emotional to the point where even teardrops form while I am walking. Very few releases by any band evoke a similar reaction. It is a fine piece of work even if it was created under negative circumstances.



  4. I’m soooooooooo bad… I only recognised three songs:

    2 – Sorrow
    15 – Billie Jean
    24 – The Partisan (one of my all time favourite songs, that one)

    But I like this post, I had great fun cheating on the web to discover the others (funnier than ironing or doing the housework!). I didn’t find #19 though. ???

    Here are mine:

    – “I can’t remember anything, can’t tell if this is true or dream”
    – “What am I suspended here? Should I kid myself that I have no fear”
    – “He’s sending stones skimming and flying
    Circles spinning out his time”
    – “When you walk through a storm” (FEd?)
    – “Debout les damnés de la terre, debout les forçats de la faim”

    And this opening line is for Ken today:

    “Joyeux anniversaire, mes voeux les plus sincères” 🙂


    1. “When you walk through a storm” (FEd?)

      Excellent choice.

      I only need the first three words to trigger an automatic reaction and I am holding an imaginary Liverpool scarf aloft until the song ends.

      A clue for #19: it’s from 1971 and it continues, “…to save a world in despair, who really cares?”

    2. ‘Save The Children’, Marvin Gaye !!!!!!

      Thanks, internet, what would I do without you!!! I wouldn’t even be here, of course…

      Oh and thanks for the clue… 😉

      And what is my fifth song? 😉

    3. And what is my fifth song? 😉

      Oh, sorry, I see it now. Shame on me.

      I hope the wretched and hungry arise in time for polling day.


    4. Oui. Debout. C’est la lutte finale… So, comrades, come rally…

      ‘L’Internationale’, the anthem of international socialism, original lyrics in French (1871), translated in so many languages. See here.

      The article 35 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1793, here) stated “When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.”

      A shame, but not surprising, this article has quickly been abolished…


  5. “Off the coast of Africa, bound for South America, a world away from here…”

    Can you recognize this?

    1. It’s “Lighthouse” by James Taylor and it’s one of my favourite songs!

      Thanks Felipe and FEd! This was a lot of fun.

  6. A truly pitiful attempt this:

    1. Animals – House of The Rising Sun
    2. Sorrow – Pink Floyd
    4. Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
    8. My Girl – Temptations
    10. Hangin’ on the Telephone – Blondie
    12. If Not For You – His Bobness
    14. No Reply – The Beatles
    15. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
    22. Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
    24. The Partisan – Leonard Cohen

    Number 23 is driving me nuts. 😛

  7. Oh, what a “BIG QUIZ” today FEd! 8)

    I love it, it’s very funny. Well, here’s my list.

    I hope all songs and artists are right:

    1 “House of The Rising Sun” by Animals
    2 “Sorrow” by Pink Floyd
    4 “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
    5 “Carey” by Joni Mitchell
    6 “1999” by Prince
    7 “Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed” by Don Henley
    8 “My Girl” by The Temptation
    9 “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
    10 “Hanging On The Telephone” by Blondie
    11 “A Design for Life” by Manic Street Preachers
    12 “If Not For You” by Bob Dylan
    13 “No Rain” by Blind Melon
    14 “No Reply” by The Beatles
    15 “Billie Jean” by Micheal Jackson
    16 “NobodyTold Me” by John Lennon
    17 “This World” by Dream Academy
    18 “Red Morning Light” by Kings Of Leon
    20 “Wild Horses” by Rolling Stones
    21 “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf
    22 “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon And Garfunkel
    23 “All Right Now” by The Free
    24 “The Partisan” by Leonard Cohen
    25 “Climbing Up The Walls” by Radiohead

    PS. Is there a Special prize for me? 😕

    Have a good weekend to everyone!

    Bye, Hydrea

  8. I’m trying to learn House of the Rising Sun right now on guitar. I can get the chords, but my picking needs to improve before it will sound like a song.

    23. All Right Now… can’t remember by who though.

    I knew some that have already been answered but not all of them by a large stretch.

    The Division Bell is my #2 all time favorite Pink Floyd Album just behind DSOTM. And a Grammy winner to boot!

    Speaking of Albums, I’ve been listening to The Final Cut for about a week now and when it’s time to listen to it, there is no substitute.

  9. I opine on some? 😉

    01- The Animals (House of the Rising Sun)
    02- Pink Floyd (Sorrow)
    03- Jimi Hendrix (?) (Look Over Yonder)
    04- Bon Jovi (Livin’ On a Prayer)
    05- Joni Mitchell (Carey)
    06- Prince (No More Mr. Nice Guy)
    07- Don Henley (Drivin’ With your Eyes Closed)

    Thanks From Brasil.

    1. 03- Jimi Hendrix (?) (Look Over Yonder)

      It’s not Harry Belafonte? While cheating 😉 , I’ve seen that the opening line of the Jimi Hendrix song is “Look over yonder here come the blues”.

  10. Pingback:
  11. I’m still thinking about these ones and promise not to cheat!

    Can you give me a clue?

    03. “I look over yonder, hot sun turning over”
    05. “The wind is in from Africa and last night I couldn’t sleep”
    07. “I met a Frenchman in a field last night, he was out there with an easel”
    12. “If not for you, babe, I couldn’t find the door”
    16. “Everybody’s talking and no-one says a word”
    17. “Richard’s on the street with all the lonely people trying to get a job”
    19. “I just wanna ask the question: Who really cares?”
    21. “I like to dream right between the sound machine”
    24. “When they poured across the border, I was cautioned to surrender”
    25. “I am the key to the lock in your house”

    Happy Weekend!

    1. I’ll give you a clue to #3.

      The artist name is made up of three words, the song title has four words… and you wouldn’t want to be in one.

  12. #3) The only name I can come up with is S.R.V. or Jimi Hendrix. 8|

    1) We don’t need no education!
    2) If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you!
    3) I was alright for a while, I could smile for a mile!
    4) One for the money, two for the show!
    5) Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day!

    I would say that Poles Apart is one of my faves on T.D.B.

    Have a great weekend everyone. You too Fed! :))

    1. Your #3 is perhaps the most beautiful song of all-time. Love it.

      Because of that, I’ll point you toward this.

      Like I said, the artist name is made up of three words, the song title has four words… and you wouldn’t want to be in one.

  13. High Hopes, the last studio song from PF, is a great song and made even better on RTN and Gdansk. Wearing the inside Out was also very nice on RTN, it was like the piano was melting into the guitar and Dick Parry’s sax part was brilliant.

    Thanks for the link to the stamps. I just bought myself 10 strips, it wasn’t easy. I won’t be using them, but I’m thinking of sticking them on the LPs.

    Good quiz. Here’s a few easy ones for you.

    – Sitting on a park bench
    – Standing tough under stars and stripes
    – Now the party’s over
    – And maybe one not so easy
    – Lighting flash in the plate glass


  14. Not the opening line but one that brings back a happier time –

    All round the fields of Anfield Road
    Where once we watched the King Kenny play (and could he play!)

    No beach balls this weekend, please!!!

    1. I’ll sing with you, Paul:

      “Stevie Heighway on the wing, we had dreams and songs to sing, of the glory ’round the fields of Anfield Road.”

      Happy times indeed.

      No beach balls yesterday, thankfully, and what a stunning opening goal by “Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s Number 9.”

  15. 😀 I bought 24 strips of stamps and have used 6 of them. The rest I am keeping as I think they are awesome and only to be used for very special occasions.

    I would love to have a stamp with DSOTM on it.


  16. Here are some really easy ones just for fun. But if you get stuck on the last one, go back to the first one and think about it:

    “It’s gettin near dawn…”

    “You need coolin baby…”

    “Purple haze all in my brain…”

    “Start spreading the news…”


    “What’ll you do when you get lonely…”

    1. That last one beats me, but you’ve put me in a good mood for the day by mentioning Ol’ Blue Eyes.

      The best opening line of his (‘My Way’ aside, which is not really ‘his’, of course) is this one:

      “When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…”

      Closely followed by:

      “Today I may not have a thing at all except for just a dream or two…”

  17. FE’d:

    Great brain exercise! I’ll have to copy this and take it on the road with me for now. Need something to connect me with the blog as I will be out of town. My 93 year old dad is having a bad spell so need to be there to help out. So this should keep me occupied for the bus ride down. Fun.

    Hope everyone has a lovely Easter.

    Will catch up in a week or so.


  18. One of my favorite opening lines: “One morning I woke up and I knew you were gone.”

    Another favorite that most of us will know: “You’ve gotta be crazy.”

    For extra credit: “Hey Jean, this is Henry McLean and I’ve finished my beautiful flying machine.”

    Know which songs these are from?

    1. The last one, ‘Point Me At The Sky’?

      A beautiful photo of David dressed as an aviator on the 7″ vinyl cover…

  19. One of my favourites first lines…

    “It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here”


    “Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, flowing into the night”
    “There’s a haze on the skyline, to wish me on my way”
    “Planets meeting face to face, one to the other cried ‘How sweet if endlessly we might embrace a perfect union deep in space”
    “I sit beside the dark, beneath the mire, cold grey dusty day, the morning lake drinks up the sky”
    “The rusted chains of prison moons are shattered by the sun”

    All evoke amazing sensory expericences!

  20. – My favourite opening lines that everyone here will probably instantly identify:

    “So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain”

    “Everybody knows that the dice are loaded”

    “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”

    “As soon as you are born they make you feel small”

    “Hello Darkness my old friend”

    But who knows who wrote this fine, poetic, romantic opening line? 😉

    “Arseholes, bastards fucking c*nts and pricks”

    – Tchin, Tchin, Andrew, I’ll raise a glass of Champagne in your honour today!

    1. “Arseholes, bastards fucking c*nts and pricks”

      😮 I’m shocked.

      But I’ll join you in a toast to Andrew and hope that Ken, Nate and Calibwam also enjoyed their recent birthdays.

    2. Wow! Quite an opening line to quote Michèle. I see you singing that in your best Axl Rose howl. :))

      Thanks to you and FED for a toast with some French champagne. Of course, if it’s not from France it’s not champagne either.

      I hope all enjoy their day.



  21. What a terrible brain excercise FEd! I’m an old 50teen girl and it’ s not so easy… please!

    But I wanna be here for a “Happy Easter” to all of you and to say a great bye bye because I’m going to have a 5 days holiday in Jordan (Petra and the Dead Sea).

    Enjoy your days with a smile,

  22. … I’m really bad. I only recognised 4 songs. 🙁

    On the other hand, if the answers above are correct, then it isn’t a wonder, because the most named artists are not my cup of tee. 😉

    Best regards


    1. :)) I’ve never even heard #25, I don’t think; I had to search through their lyrics for a good example so as to allow me to include this opinion-splitting band. Thankfully, it didn’t take long.

      I think that was a compliment.

    2. Thanks for the flowers FEd! 😀

      I’m OK with having recognised Free, Pink Floyd, The Animals and Simon & Garfunkel.


  23. On favourite lines; my all time favourite to the end of time for me is: “and when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown”.

    To me it translates as: “and when you f–k up, you’ll knock down everything that you have built for yourself” and to me that is a good rule to live by. 😛

    Sorry FEd, I haven’t had much time of late to tackle your first liners.

  24. It’s embarrassing how few of these I knew. But I did recognize a few favorites. I would have said No. 12 was George Harrison. (Sorry Bob.)

    A few of my favorites: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done; “On a dark desert highway…;” “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun;” or “Though you try to justify the meaning…”

    This was fun, FEd. Thanks.

  25. Opening lines to songs that I can identify with from above:

    11. “Libraries gave us power, then work came and made us free”
    21. “I like to dream right between the sound machine”

    High Hopes is a fantastic song with many thought provoking lyrics. Most Pink Floyd music tends to have great lyrics, with effects that can work much like coffee; a substance that quickens the step and gets the mind going.

    “There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps”
    “Running before time took our dreams away”

    When my brother and I submitted our version of Arnold Layne for a past contest we titled ourselves appropriately “The Ragged Band”. You become what you surround yourself with, and I believe that following in the thought-steps of Pink Floyd has not been a bad gig for me. Much better than most of the alternatives, played on radio, I could have follow and surrounded myself with. 8|

    Pink Floyd rolls off lyrics that remind me of some of my most favorite literary works. Their brilliance is not surprising I’m sure, coming from a bunch of young lads out of Cambridge, UK! 😀

    For example:

    Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. Dreams are the seedlings of realities. -James Allen

    Potentially a Pink Floyd song, what do you think?

    1. “There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps”

      I always wondered who the ragged band was. However I learned from the old adage of Matsuo Basho, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”

      Pink Floyd rolls off lyrics that remind me of some of my most favorite literary works.

      There is this reference too: ‘…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…’

      ‘…and myriads of small creatures… along the roads that lay before them.’

      – Charles Dickens, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

  26. Here’s ten more to ponder over…

    “Come up to meet you”
    “I can’t help about the shape I’m in”
    “If I leave here tomorrow”
    “Is it worth it?”
    “It’s a god-awful small affair”
    “Is this the real life?”
    “Just one step at a time”
    “There must be some kind of way out of here”
    “Working from seven to eleven every night”
    “You’d better make your face up”

    1. Ah, ‘Free Bird’. That’s a classic.

      I will be pondering, Ken. A few have me well and truly beaten.

      God-awful small affair, eh…?

    2. “Working from seven to eleven every night”

      What an absolute gem of a song ‘Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You’, probably one of my most favourite Led Zeppelin songs.

  27. Here are my picks:

    “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun”
    “Once in a dream far beyond these castle walls, down in a bay where the moonlit waterfalls”
    “History recalls how great the fall can be while everybody’s sleeping and the boats put out to sleep”
    “Now they’re planning the crime of the century, well what will it be”
    “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord!”
    “Living on the lighted stage approaches the unreal”
    “She came from Providence, one in Rhode Island”

    1. Good ones, Terrence. I recognise Pink Floyd (of course), Supertramp, Phil Collins (or was it Genesis?) and the Eagles, but had to cheat for your second because it really sounds enchanting. The rest of the lyrics don’t disappoint, either.

      “I stood alone while the minstrel sang his song
      So afraid I’d lost my soul.”

      I’ll pass on #6.





  29. “It’s a god-awful small affair”

    Hi Fed

    You would not think it such a “God awful small affair” if you were living on Mars. Or perhaps if you were arrested in the 1970s. 8|

  30. A bit late but the play on words makes me giggle even after the hundreds of times I’ve heard it.

    “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me?”

  31. “I hear mariachi static on my radio, and the tubes they glow in the dark…”

    “No tongue in the bell and the fishwives yell, but they might as well be mute…”

    “Wandering properties of death, arresting moons within our eyes and smiles, we did rest amongst the granite tombs to catch our breath…”

    “Did you know it was all going to go so wrong for you? And did you see it was all going to be so right for me?”

    “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, hoist the mainsail here I come, no room on board for the insincere…”

    “Angel came down from heaven yesterday, she stayed with me just long enough to rescue me…”

    “Well I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the lord, but you don’t really care for music, do you?”

    “September ’77, Port Elizabeth weather fine, it was business as usual in police room 619…”

    “The summer had inhaled and held its breath too long, the winter looked the same as if it never had gone, and through an open window where no curtain hung I saw you…”

    “It’s four in the morning, the end of December, I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better…”

    “I know your leaving’s too long overdue, for far too long I’ve had nothing new to show to you…”

    “I was born by the river in a little tent, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since…”

    “A long stretch of headlights bend into I-9, they tiptoe into truck stops and sleepy diesel eyes…”

    From my playlist o’ the day ~ melancholy but true nevertheless. 😕

    Peace. 🙂

    1. Gabrielle, you’ve got me well and truly bamboozled several times over, and you’ve put me in the mood for a morning spent listening to Leonard Cohen.

      How about this for one of his finest opening lines?

      “Give me back my broken night, my mirrored room, my secret life,
      It’s lonely here, there’s no one left to torture.”

    2. Leonard Cohen is such a poet, isn’t he? Plucking random lyrical gems from his compositions could keep our minds busy wandering through thought-provoking imagery for days!

      I always found Famous Blue Raincoat to be a very intriguing song which must have a gritty back story. Oddly enough, Leonard Cohen doesn’t remember if there was any love triangle. As for the raincoat, he states:

      “I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn’t go to Greece with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining, and achieved glory when the frayed sleeves were repaired with a little leather. Things were clear. I knew how to dress in those days. It was stolen from Marianne’s loft in New York sometime during the early seventies. I wasn’t wearing it very much toward the end.”

      Even this simple explanation is poetic. 🙂


  32. Good ones, Terrence. I recognise Pink Floyd (of course), Supertramp, Phil Collins (or was it Genesis?) and the Eagles, but had to cheat for your second because it really sounds enchanting. The rest of the lyrics don’t disappoint, either.

    “I stood alone while the minstrel sang his song
    So afraid I’d lost my soul.”

    I’ll pass on #6.

    Rush with “Limelight” was #6 (I know you aren’t a Rush fan but was the drummer Neil Peart’s observation on why it was difficult dealing with fame). Yes, I’m surprised you remembered the Styx tune “Castle Walls” (my all time favorite Styx song and since I have Autism/Aspergers relate to the lyrics easily).

    “The Last Resort” is my favorite Eagles track of all time.

    “In the Air Tonight” was Phil Collins, Genesis would have recorded it if Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford not passed it for “Misunderstanding” and “Please Don’t Ask”. Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson could write great lyrics given the chance. Roger’s lyrics to “Fool’s Overture” is pure brilliance and Rick’s lyrics to “Crime Of the Century” was superb.

  33. Thanks for the heads up on the stamps FEd, I got them today and they do look very nice.

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