One thing that fascinates me about the evolution of modern music is how instrumentals—both as stand-alone songs and as musical introductions—have sort of died out. I presume that the immediacy of streaming online and the sales of individual songs now, as opposed to the anticipation of record store day and the ritual of the first play of an entire album, is what has led to this development. Nobody’s got the time or interest to let a musical idea develop anymore.
That led me to wonder: what are the popular songs that have the longest intros? Immediately, a few examples sprang to mind, like the anticipatory build-ups in The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” or John (Cougar) Mellencamp’s “I Need A Lover.” Or anything Meat Loaf ever did.
Thus, I began to collect a Spotify playlist of such songs. Whenever my random play would come up with a long intro to a song, I’d tag it to this list called Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus! I began to have so many songs that I had to set up a criteria: the song’s intro must be a minute or longer.
Then, some controversy. What about songs that are technically two songs, but always played together? Like Boston’s “Foreplay / Long Time?” Or Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius / Eye in the Sky?” And what if the two songs are one track, like Elton John’s “Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding,” or actually two separate tracks, like Steve Miller’s “Threshold / Jet Airliner?” And what about album tracks from great bands that are not exactly well known, like Rush’s “2112?”
In the end, I decided two songs that are almost always heard as one make the list, whether they are one track or two. I also decided to stick with songs most people would know the chorus to. By doing so, I was able to get forty-seven songs with >1:00 intros. Finally, to make this a Top Fifty Longest Intro Popular Songs, I relaxed the 1:00 limit. You can listen to the list below or enjoy it on Spotify (best not to play it on shuffle, or the two-track songs will be separated).