First Line Meme

5 May, 2008

I stole the following meme idea from No More Hornets, via Ordinary Girl:

Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right. I’ll put it in italics if the title has been gotten, but not the artist.
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING.

Here’s the problem.  I don’t have an iPod.  I don’t use and mp3 player.  So I’m going to alter it slightly.

I play guitar.  I have a box full of chords and lyrics for various songs.  So instead of grabbing my Walkman (sorry), I grabbed the box of music and here are the first lines of the first 25 songs (many of these songs have been recorded by multiple artists, so I’ll be liberal with Step 3):

  1. When I woke up this morning  Illegal Smile by John Prine (Lifeguard)
  2. His daddy was an honest man
  3. They sat together in the parkSimple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan (though I first heard it by Joan Baez) (SI)
  4. There was blood on the saddleBlood on the Saddle, Trad. (Ex)
  5. An old cowboy went ridin’ outGhost Riders in the Sky, Sons of the Pioneers (and lots more) (Nan)
  6. They seek him hereDedicated Follower of Fashion by the Kinks (Ranger Bob)
  7. A hundred and eighty were challenged by Travis to dieThe Alamo (but the artist (and I know of at least two) is still not there) (Ex)
  8. City girls just seem to find out early Lyin Eyes by the Eagles (Lifeguard)
  9. Tim Finnegan lived in Walking Street, Finnegans Wake, Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (The Exterminator)
  10. Lots of folks back east they say
  11. It was a frosty night
  12. When I was a young man, I carried a packThe Band Played Waltzing Matilday by Eric Bogle (I first heard it on a Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem album) (Ranger Bob)
  13. Oh have you heard the story ’bout Aimee McPherson?
  14. Oh, we want to call him Zachary
  15. I’ve been doing some hard travellin’, Hard Travellin’ by Woody Guthrie (I’ll give you the artist because its been covered so many times) (SI)
  16. She was a level headed dancer Spanish Pipe Dream by John Prine (Lifeguard)
  17. We went one dayTijuana Jail by The Kingston Trio (Ex)
  18. I saw a Berkely woman
  19. Think I’ll go out to AlbertaFour Strong Winds, Ian Tyson (Ian & Sylvia) (Nan)
  20. Train roll onTuesday’s Gone  Lynyrd Skynyrd (Nan)
  21. Take me ridin’ in the car, car, The Car Song by Woody Guthrie (Lifeguard)
  22. Nobody feels any painJust LIke a Woman by Bob Dylan (SI)
  23. Oh had I a golden threadOh, Had I A Golden Thread by Pete Seeger (OG)
  24. Caviar comes from the virgin sturgeon
  25. If today was not an endless highwayTomorrow is a Long Time by Bob Dylan (though I first heard it by Ian & Sylvia) (SI)

I know I am perverting the rules, but, again, given my technological level, I think its in the spirit of the rule.  And, as my daughter would say, these songs prove that I am a nerd.  And my 8-track won’t do random (unless I hit a bump).



  1. 1. “Illegal Smile” by John Prine
    8. “Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles
    16. “Spanish Pipedream” by John Prine
    21. “Car Song” by Woody Guthrie

    I knew I liked you Billy. The fact that you’re a fellow guitar picker and listen to the likes of John Prine only boosts your stock in my ledger book.

  2. Actually, I’m a flat strummer. I could never get my fingers to move that fast. My favourite artist, though, is Pete Seeger,

  3. 3. Simple Twist of Fate – Dylan
    12. Pinball Wizard – The Who
    22. Just Like A Woman – Dylan
    25. Tomorrow is a Long Time – Dylan

  4. #4 is “Blood on the Saddle.” Not sure about the artist, but I’m guessing Marty Robbins or Tex Ritter.

    #9 is “Finnegan’s Wake.” I’m guessing the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, although I can’t specifically remember them performing it.

    #12 is “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” Jimmy Rodgers.

    #16 is “Hard Travelin’.” I had a recording with the Limelighters, but I think the Kingston Trio recorded it, also.

    #25 I think SI’s right about the title, but I can hear an annoying folky soprano singing it in my head: Judy Collins or Joan Baez?

  5. On 12, the line for Pinball Wizard is actually, “When I was a young boy, so I withdraw that. I can’t imagine (((Billy)))) strumming that on his guitar anyway. He’d have to smash it when he was done. 8)

    I am right about #25, and I think someone like Odetta did it, too, but I also remember Rod Stewart on “Every Picture Tells a Story”, the album with Maggie May on it.

  6. #12. Wrong again. Brain synapses seem to be misfiring.

    “Ever since I was a young boy
    I’ve played the sliver ball.”

  7. SI:
    Watch out for Cousin Kevin and Uncle Ernie.

  8. Ex: Try again on 12.

    SI: Pinball wizard? Do you think my wife would put up with buying a new guitar every week? Really.

  9. Hey, you gave SI credit for “Finnegan’s Wake.” Whack fol the dah now, Billy, that was me.

    #17: Tijuana Jail (the Kingston Trio)

    #7 has something to do with the Alamo. Is there such a song as “The Alamo”? If so, it probably would have been by someone like Johnny Horton.

    #12: Actually, the first line of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” is “When I was a young man ….” Jimmy Rodgers may have thrown in a “Well” before that, but others didn’t. In any case, though, you’re obviously thinking of a different song. How about getting more specific than just “young man.” When I was 17, it was a very good year. 15, 16, 18, and 19 sucked.

    I’m pretty sure #11 isn’t “Frosty the Snowman.”

    #13, what the hell rhymes with “McPherson”?
    She may have been a Christian, but not an honest person?

  10. 12) “Paradise” by John Prine?

  11. I added a second line to number 12. It’s still pretty damn esoteric, so . . .

    Ex: Sorry. You two look so much alike. You got the Tijuana Jail and you guessed number 7, so half credit. For #12, you’re right. Pete Seeger’s version (the only one I have) starts out with that line, so I added the second line. #11 is not Frosty. And for #13, the whole first verse is:
    Oh, have you heard the story ’bout Aimee McPherson
    Aimee McPherson, that wonderful person.
    She weighed one-eighty and her hair was red,
    But she could preach a wicked sermon, so the people all said.

    It is still an odd one.

    Lifeguard: Nope. Check the addition I just made. Might help.

  12. This is from (((Wife))): I don’t know which is scarier: that this many people responded this quickly, or that this many people responded this quickly who know this shit. Nerds abound.

  13. 5 – Ghost Riders in the Sky. Sons of the Pioneers and a zillion others.
    19 – Four Strong Winds. It’s been covered by numerous artists, but I’ve always liked the Ian and Sylvia version.
    20 – Tuesday’s Gone. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica. I prefer the latter.

  14. #5: I see Nan got this, but I’ll bet no one here has ever heard the Peggy Lee version. Peggy Lee! She says “cowpoke” instead of “cowboy.” I suppose she saw the ghost riders while she had a fever.

    That’s all there is for this comment.

  15. #23 – Peter, Paul, & Mary – Oh, I Had a Golden Thread?

    (or I’ve heard the Eva Cassidy version before too, but I don’t know who did it originally)

  16. OG: I had no idea that Peter, Paul and Mary had done that one. The only artist I have ever heard perform it is Pete Seeger. Close enough, though.

  17. 6. “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” – The Kinks

    12. “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” written by Eric Bogle and performed by many

    Oh… and you do know that Stan Jones, who wrote “Ghost Riders,” was an NPS ranger, right?

  18. Ranger Bob: And, if memory serves, he wrote it while stationed at Stovepipe Wells at Death Valley (a few years before I lived there.

  19. I knew he was at Death Valley, but it sounds like you know the story better than I do!

    Liam Clancy’s version of “The Band Played…” was my introduction, too, and for many years it was my favorite. Then a couple of years ago I came across the Dubliners’ version, and decided Ronnie Drew’s cigarettes-and-whiskey voice suited the subject even better. You walk away thinking, “That dude really went through the wringer.”

  20. Never heard the Dubliner’s story. It’s one of my favourite songs. It’s also one of the few that almost make me cry while singing it (the other is Green Fields of France (which I think is also by Bogle (but I’m not sure))).

    On another note, when I was living at GRCA, we were on the North Rim (my family walked south to north, another family hiked the other way and we drove their car back to the South Rim) and, after the three-day hike, we spent a couple of days up there. We took a trail ride at the big meadow up by the entrance station and our trail guide was the original Marlboro Man (don’t remember his name (I was maybe 10?)) but I remember him as a really neat guy. How’s that for a non-sequitorial ramble?

  21. I still don’t know most of them, even with the answers posted.

  22. Philly: I could make a comment about these songs being more for the yonger set, but many are from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s. I have to assume (and yes, I know that’s dangerous) that you were not into the fold revival of the early 60s?

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