Music Mondays - The Closing Song

I'm one of those people that prefer albums over singles - while a lot of bands can release one or two decent songs, I find there are a shortage of bands that can release albums that are decent overall.  To me, albums are much better than a collection of singles... I love albums like Dark Side of the Moon or OK Computer.  Albums which are put together beautifully, and united in theme and sound. 

And I love love love albums that end well.  Because a good closing song can really tie an album together.  Which should be fairly obvious - it'll be the last song you hear before you put in a new CD, flip the record, or whatever. And it should leave you going "damn.  That album was awesome".

My friend Kittens was talking about great last songs on albums a few days ago, and not even a few sentences in we both realized it was going to have to be my music monday post.  Because it was such an obvious topic.  Why wouldn't I write about closing tracks?

So, here are a few of my favourites.  Tracks that end an album, and help tie the entire compilation together.  Would love to hear other opinions, too... because this list is only scratching the surface.

1.  The Beatles: "Good Night"
from The Beatles (or "The White Album")

My first pick for a Beatles closer was actually "The End", off Abbey Road.  However, because some silly music tech decided to instead end Abbey Road with "Her Majesty" (not a bad song, mind you - it just should have come on earlier in the album), I can't go with that song.  So, it'll have to be "Good Night" - this really pretty string arrangement that sounds almost like a lullaby.

Of course, it's hard to tie together an album as diverse and crazy as The White Album, which was just a hodge-podge of songs individuals had been working on (a couple of the songs were peformed with only half the band - "Why don't we do it in the road" was just McCartney and Starr, while I remember reading that "Julia" was just Lennon).  But for some reason, I hear "Good Night" and it just seems like the perfect way to end the album - as something following the bizarre "revolution 9", this song sometimes makes me think it was a mesasge to the perceived audience:  "okay, guys... album's almost over, so stop doing your drugs, okay?". 

I mean, could you imagine if the album had ended with "Revolution 9"?  God knows what the Manson Family would have wound up doing...

2. Pink Floyd: "Pigs on the Wing"
from Animals

Pink Floyd knows how to end albums - from the monolithic "The Trial" (as heard on The Wall, though technically not a closing track), to the lovely rock chant on "Brain Damage/Eclipse" (Dark Side of the Moon), to the absolutely gorgeous second half of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" (from Wish You Were Here, a perennial fan favourite).  Hell, even their "drug song", the bizarre "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" certainly has a charm to it.
So, why am I picking this song among the entire Pink Floyd catalogue?  After all, it's barely a minute long, is just a few vocal lines and an acoustic guitar, and isn't even that complex.  Well, here's the reason:  it's not just the closing song... it's also the opening song.  See, it plays at the beginning of the album as a question, and then is repeated to close the album, phrased almost as an answer.  It ties the entire album together in this almost profound way. 
Plus, I think there's a certain poetry in the lines "And every fool knows, a dog needs a home/a shelter/from pigs on the wing".  Considering how part one of the song questions whether there is love in a relationship, and the second part has an answer, I've always sort of seen this as one of the more positive endings to a Pink Floyd album.  And I can be a sucker for sappy romance stuff.  But don't tell anyone, or it'll ruin my street cred.
3.  Duffy: "Distant Dreamer"
from Rockferry
Well, shit.
I mean, I think I just kind of made myself look like such a fool for putting this song (this musician!) on the list, but it needs to be said.  And, while I can understand some of the Duffy-hate out there (that "Mercy" song can get pretty effin' annoying when you hear it in a mall), I actually really like this girl.  I mean, we have a white girl from Wales who sings black motown and soul from the states.  And, um, she sings it well.
Really, "Distant Dreamer" is probably a bit poppier than it should be, and maybe a bit longer, too, but I still really like it.  It's upbeat, it's soulful, and it's optimistic - and first albums should always end on either a note of hopeful optimism or confused cynicism.  This whole "I hate the world and I know what I'm talking about" tone that some debut albums use kind of pisses me off.  It's like rappers singing (is it really "singing"?) about how much money they have on their debut single... what's the point?
So, yeah.  Duffy.  She's a cool lady.  Plus, she was attacked by Johnny Rotten, which is pretty cool. 

1 comment:

  1. Nothing beats "Goodnight Irene" on Ry Cooder's "Chicken Skin Music". Seriously. Nothing.