Combining O, for the A to Z Challenge, with my normal Monday┬ámusic-related ‘Rock Notes’, we are drawn ineluctably to the simple yet potent phrase ‘One, Two, Three, Four’.

The count-off – “Fellas, can I count it off?” – has on occasion been elevated to a special place of importance within records (James Brown’s Sex Machine, as quoted above). Many variants have occurred down the years. ‘Five, six seven, eight’. Mixing it up linguistically, with ‘Uno, dos, tres, cuatro,’ as used by the divine S’Express, for s’example. ‘Uno, dos, tres, catorce,’ U2 not only mixing it up linguistically but numerically, with the ’14’ signifying the precise number of people who heard that song’s count-off and didn’t hate it.

However, none of these start with O, and so today that means that we have to turn, of course, to the undisputed President of Count-Offs; Count Offula: the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Not just one but TWO count-offs. OK, the ‘four’ seems a little lost in the flood, but, y’know, you have to be able to really count to take such liberties. The count-off before the final verse (“The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive…”), every single time I hear this song in any context, causes me extensive goosebumps. Hey ho, rock n roll, deliver me from nowhere.

You too can learn the way of the count-off. Here’s a Springsteen tutorial.

‘Hut! Hoo! Hee! Hoa!’

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