I'm almost sure that the acoustic guitar intro of "The Best of Times" is a direct quote from some song, possibly a theme song from some movie. Do any of you know what song or which movie? I suspect it might be a film involving someone dying of cancer. That would certainly fit. I checked the theme to "Brian's Song", about a Chicago Bears player dying of cancer, but that is not it.
It sounds a little like "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". The song itself divided into 8 tracks off the album of the same name. (Disc 2) When I first heard the intro to "The Best of Times", that's what it reminded me of.
Go back and listen to (or just think about) the intro to "Overture", the ending solo of "Goodnight Kiss" & the intro of "Losing Time/Grand Finale". I don't know of any movie that features any of the direct quote or riffs.
It's interesting that you and others have suggested an Elton John song, because that had occurred to me as well. However, I did not have a specific song in mind and had not yet tried to pursue that possibility. I did listen to Funeral for a Friend today and do see some similarity, but it's definitely not an exact match. I still feel that there is some melody out there that is a very close or exact match. Maybe we'll learn what from Portnoy at some point unless his use of the melody was subconscious or unintentional.
I also thought about that since my google search found that song, but the melody doesn't match. Of course, you were joking. It is possible that the original song (if I haven't just imagined this) started with the lyrics "These were the best of times" which would match the rhythm of the DT melody.
The electric guitar intro is "The spirit of radio" definitely. The intro of the song as well as the guitar solo later, I hear Japanese Enka. Just like the intro of "The ministry of lost souls". Like Marty Friedman, I think JP is into some Japanese songs.
I knew I wasn't the only person who heard this. I've been trying to figure this out. I think it's the theme from an old TV series, I just can't place it. I hear it in my head and it's one of those corny funky 70s style theme songs