Feb 262013

Rock Town Hall’s Once and For All February hits the homestretch with the topic we’ve been eagerly awaiting to decide since Townsman Al first raised it way back in September 2012: What Is Rock’s Most Distinctive Opening Guitar Chord?

Offlist lobbying has been fierce since this topic was originally raised and a call for a field of 64 was put forth. The judges weeded through a wealth of suggestions, tossing aside songs that actually opened with an instrument or vocal sound other than a guitar chord, such as the cowbell that precedes the distinctive guitar chord of “Honky Tonk Women” and the count-ins to “Wooly Bully” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” as barely inaudible as it is. Arpeggiated chords are allowed, including, the arguably loosely arpeggiated harmonics that kick off Yes’ “Roundabout.”

Studio/best-known versions only are being considered. Please feel free to consider the special qualities of the way the opening guitar chord sounds. This factors into just how distinctive your choice is.

A chord is composed of 3 notes, so the single-note octave intro to Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and the 2-note intros, like U2’s “I Will Follow,” are not included in this competition. Likewise, there is a muted third note in the opening riff of The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing,” which the judges have determined disqualifies it from this competition.

Over the next 3 days we encourage Townspeople to vote early and vote often for their choice in the extensive RTH People’s Poll that follows…after the jump!

What's Rock's Most Distinctive Opening Guitar Chord?

  • The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night" (70%, 21 Votes)
  • The Who, "The Kids Are Alright" (10%, 3 Votes)
  • Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • The Kinks, "You Really Got Me" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • The Rolling Stones, "Brown Sugar" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • Beastie Boys, "Fight for Your Right to Party" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man" (3%, 1 Votes)
  • Simon & Garfunkle, "The Sound of Silence" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Steely Dan, "Josie" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • T. Rex, "Children of the Revolution" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • T. Rex, "Metal Guru" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Beatles, "Oh! Darling" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Kinks, "A Well Respected Man" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Mamas & The Papas, "California Dreamin'" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Move, "Do Ya" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • ELO, "Do Ya" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Police, "Message in a Bottle" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Rolling Stones, "Jumping Jack Flash" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Rolling Stones, "Start Me Up" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Pink Floyd, "Arnold Layne" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mudhoney, "Touch Me I'm Sick" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, "Roundabout" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Deep Purple, "Smoke on the Water" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • AC/DC, "You Shook Me All Night Long" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Chicago, "Color My World" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Cream, "Crossroads" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Cream, "White Room" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Who, "Can't Explain" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Green Day, "Brain Stew" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Heart, "Barracuda" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Green Day, "When I Come Around" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Guns 'n Roses, "Sweet Child O' Mine" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Jackson 5, "ABC" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • James Brown, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Who, "Pinball Wizard" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Thin Lizzy, "The Boys Are Back in Town" (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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  5 Responses to “Once and For All: Rock’s Most Distinctive Opening Guitar Chord”

  1. wait ….what?

    should this be about “riffs” and not chords?

    Barracuda is a two note gallup up until the end of the first verse when it hits a D chord. Smoke On the Water is only two notes until the first verse.

  2. This one is no contest. Hard Day’s Night is the musical equivalent of Jerry West driving into the lane, if you know what I mean.

  3. No, this is only to determine the introductory chord. I thought “Barracuda” and “Smoke on the Water” were 2-note riffs too, but some instructional videos I looked up to verify taught them as full chords. If they are wrong I will GLADLY strike them from the competition and feel better about my initial instincts, no matter how far I was led astray.

    Regardless, this is shaping up to be a 2-horse race at best.

    I agree that some of these intros need to play out before they make their presence felt.

  4. Jerry West Driving Into the Lane may need to be a new RTH Glossary term.

  5. Too many too listen to to do the poll justice. So, I recall the RTH Minuteman chord is from “The Kids are Alright” but I’ve skipped past that intro page for 2 or 3 years now. I just accessed it and YOU chose that a representative opening chord. Good enough for me for now.

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