Friday Pick Six Great Album Closers

Friday, March 18, 2011
Pacing an album is a difficult thing. Often, you need to put some of your best material at the beginning, to grab your listener's attention. You want to build up to your best songs from there, but sadly many albums start to fall apart after their best song. It takes great placing and album arrangement to keep listeners going until the end, and even better placing to end on something big. Not every artist can do this, and many can't and make albums where listeners will only listen to a couple of songs, usually the early ones, over and over while skipping the rest. This week's Pick Six is a recognition of truly great album closing songs; songs that wrap up the album in a definitive and wholly satisfying way:

1. Darkness On the Edge of Town, by Bruce Springsteen from the album of the same name
2. A Day in the Life, by the Beatles from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
3. Lullaby, by Ben Folds Five from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
4. Whatsername, by Green Day from American Idiot
5. This Love of Mine, by Frank Sinatra from In The Wee Small Hours
6. 23, by Jimmy Eat World from Futures

Now, I'm hoping most of these choices do not require an explanation. It should be noted that in the case of most of these artists I had to choose only one album closer, even though there are many good choices from those artists (actually, this is true of all of the above artists). But alas, I've always made it a point in my mix creation and Friday Pick Six processes that I limit myself to one offering per artist. So, if there was more than one good choice from one artist, I chose the one I liked best.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is probably Bruce's best album, and the title song is a good indication as to why that is. Really, it probably didn't matter what the last song of this album was, it would make it here because EVERY song is good from this particular album. The same can be said of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it made it especially because the last song happens to be A Day In The Life, which is one of the most recognizable songs, like, ever.

Ben Folds had a lot of possibilities, but I went with Lullaby mostly because it's a magnificent closer to perhaps his most underrated album ever. Well, Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner or Songs for Silverman, but now we're getting off track.

Whatsername makes it because it is a closer that stirs interesting emotions as a commentary on the rest of the concept album it closes. If American Idiot is a story about leaving home and getting caught up in a whirlwind of sex, drugs, and psychosis before crashing and coming home, then Whatsername is the somewhat melancholy reflection on that life.

I bet most of you weren't expecting to see a Sinatra song on a list of rock songs, huh? Well, I happen to love Frankie, and this song perfectly sums up the feelings that he shares in his concept album detailing his separation from Ava Gardner, In the Wee Small Hours.

This last song is one that I included because of the personal weight it carries. The song is literally songwriter Jim Adkins' thoughts before he turned 23, which makes it a wonderful closer to an album about dealing with the future. Also, I'm about to turn 23, and this song hits a soft spot.

As per usual, videos after the jump.

Darkness On the Edge of Town, live and with an awesome intro from the Boss

A Day In the Life, video with another awesome intro from Paul McCartney

Lullaby, live with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra (it was hard finding a good version, and this is actually a great arrangement)

Whatsername, live and from a very exhausted-looking and sweaty Billy Joe

This Love of Mine, live but sadly cut shorter than the album version and not the best quality

23, live and with the dopiest looking crowd ever


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