The Sound Of Silence: Classic Rock’s 15 Most Powerful Pauses

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Shhh….did you hear that? It’s… nothing! And… it rocks! From the earliest days of rock-and-roll, even the loudest and wildest of musicians have plugged into the power of silence; the pregnant pause. 

A blast of silence can mercilessly build suspense and massively pump up the power when the rock returns to re-launch the rest of the song down its rollicking road. Just witness any number of vintage live performances where Elvis Presley staggers his lyrics or Chuck Berry coming out of his famous duck walk by taking a beat.

After Sgt. Pepper propelled rock into the album era, artists more and more effectively wove loaded vocals breaks and instrumental full-stops into their very recordings. The result has been some of the most famous, most exciting and flat-out greatest moments in music. Here are the 15 most powerful pauses in classic rock.
Led Zeppelin “Good Times, Bad Times” (1969)
Power Pause: (1:27)
Led Zeppelin announced itself to the world with this opening track on its self-titled debut album. The dynamic song supplies a snapshot of a youth contemplating life as it hurls toward him, positive and negative (as the title implies). The final words before the break addresse getting dumped by a first love. Silence follows, then a single John Bonham drum beat, and then—hello, universe!—Jimmy Page proclaime himself the dark overlord of all future heavy metal guitar solos.
Cream “White Room” (1967)
Power Pause: (3:57)
Cream’s spooky, dramatic “White Room” is a brawny ode to loneliness that weaves a mysterious tale that ends with the narrator alone and shattered. The powerhouse musicianship by Eric Clapton on guitar, Ginger Baker on drums, and Jack Bruce on bass is such that even the song’s moment of silence quavers with heavy vibrations. A mere dangling squeal of feedback connects the singer’s final lament to the trio’s monster jam outro.

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