Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Super Superlatives: The Greatest Opening Note in Rock History

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 9, 2007

Exaggerations, fuck off

I didn’t make room for The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” on my 100 Years, 100 Songs list. Maybe I should’ve–garage rock / proto-punk classic, ridiculously innovative use of verse/chorus dynamics, was even deemed cool enough for Hendrix to cover it at Monterey and use it as the soundtrack to his guitar immolation (plus, how many other songs can you name with an occarina solo?) Nonetheless, it’s not on there, probably for the same reason the similarly classic “Louie, Louie” isn’t–it’s just too repetitive to stay transcendent for its entirety, and I pretty much only had room for songs whose otherworldliness was consistent throughout.

Nonetheless, for at least one note, “Wild Thing” is easily the greatest rock song ever performed. The Troggs’ definitive hit opens with this unbelievable soaring, bending guitar note, right before the song kicks in to full grungy chug. The note should be blink-and-you-miss-it, since it barely lasts a second and is quickly fogotten by the rest of the song, but somehow it’s totally unforgettable. Still, I didn’t really realize just how perfect the one note is until I heard it isolated from the rest of the song as one of the dozens of mashed-up intros given new context in Osymyso’s “Intro/Inspection.” Now I can barely listen to the rest of “Wild Thing,” since I know that great though it is, it just can’t live up to that first second.

I can’t really say why I like it so much, though I can think of at least a couple reasons why I find it so striking. First, regardless of what volume it’s being played at, the note is loud–unmistakably so, and completely out of character for its time period (’66, the year where rock really started to get interesting). And not just loud, the note’s also filthy–distorted, jagged, and from out of nowhere. But despite the crumminess, the note still soars, sky-bound and soul-piercing in its warped beauty, right before it crashlands into the song’s first chord. It’s unexepected, it’s inexpicable, but for the second it lasts, it’s totally awe-inspiring.

(Anyone else know of a better opening note? Feel free to chime in)

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4 Responses to “Super Superlatives: The Greatest Opening Note in Rock History”

  1. Mitchell Stirling said

    I motion the opening snap of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ especially on the ‘Manchester Free Trade Hall’ version, sounds like a cannon going off.

  2. brown said

    ::agrees with Mitchell::

    but…

    andrew –

    you are one of the greatest pop culture minds of our generation. keep up the good work.

  3. Steph said

    And to think I thought I was the only one who appreciated that one note. Not to forget the incredibly raunchy spoken lines. For further Troggs listening try the U.S. banned “I Can’t Control Myself.” Keep up the fantastic insight.

  4. Kyle said

    I only came across this just now because the Teddy Pendergrass page had a RIYL-ish link at the end of it to this one.

    Fitting, as this morning while driving to work and manically flipping through the radio dial i heard the SECOND HALF of a single stretched fuzzy guitar note in the middle of the song. It was immediately recognized as “Wild Thing”. It’s the one at 0:27.

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