on the flip side.........
Before iTunes became a hot commodity, I can remember walking into Best Buy or Sam Goody and purchasing many of the albums and singles I have today. Flipping through some of those singles, one of my favorite things was not listening to just the hit single that made it onto that CD or tape, but the second track that always managed to elude the top billing. Through years of listening to several of my favorite artists, I have found a love in giving the remainder of an album the opportunity to impress me........so far, I haven't been disappointed that much.
Fast forward to now, where many have the chance to download just the "B-Side" songs that they love, everyone is given the chance to break away from the hit single and understand why a big name artist can be called just that. Because it's not all about the big song on the album anymore. No......it's more about the body of work that they produce over their career. Whether it be good, bad, indifferent, a true artist is one who can give you something to listen to other than the songs that grace the radio waves. So as a fun break-away treat to top ten hits, I give you my favorite top ten B-Sides!
1) Tuesday's Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd - The first time I had heard this song, it was in the movie Dazed and Confused. Skynyrd was always known for their big hits such as Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. Hell, even now, I can mention at least three or four popular cover bands that still play these songs today. And while I admit to loving the more favorable tunes, it was Tuesday's Gone that really grabbed me the most. It plays with the idea of a man losing the woman he loved, a story that just about anyone is familiar with. Yet the way L.S. makes it more personal by giving a distinct day of the week and really getting to the heart of the matter of the singer not being afraid admit the desire to be alone while they nurse their broken heart.......it's compelling. Furthermore, the instrumentation and musicianship that has been put into this song always brings close to tears any time it has come on my iPod or by some strange fate......or the radio.
2) Bell Bottom Blues by Eric Clapton - While this song may have been a single, this song was also a b-side to Layla, which is one of Clapton's most moving pieces in his musical career. But Bell Bottom Blues is an epic piece in its own right. Where Layla was all about Pattie Boyd Harrison and his love for her, this piece deals with the idea of unrequited love in its simplest of forms. Where most have dealt with the notion of loving someone that they couldn't be with, the words are, in essence, the most realistic. That very idea of loving someone so much that you would do anything they wanted you to do, but if they were to leave you completely, that they shouldn't be surprised by the idea that you could move on and find love again. We all talk about never feeling or loving anyone as much as we love certain people in our lives, but it can happen again. And Bell Bottom Blues gets to the heart of that, sharing with us that desire to be with someone we want more than anything in the world, yet knowing that with any love, when it is lost........it can be found again.
3) Dear Prudence by The Beatles - Yes.....I know that The Beatles are a force all their own. Any song that is mentioned on here would not be considered much of a B-Side.......considering that the Beatles catalog is something that is not exclusive on radio. Instead, I've heard many Beatles songs make it onto radio stations, even ones that were never released as actual singles. But I take this moment to give the band their due because yes, even their non-hit songs were just as note-worthy in their career. This one is no exception. Off their extremely lengthy and eccentric White Album, I can honestly say that this one is, by far, my favorite track. Written about Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, who dedicated her entire stay in India to meditation so much that she missed out on being part of the group. And in turn, Lennon wrote this song for her as his own way of letting her know that they wanted her to be a part of the group and come out and have a good time with them instead of being a recluse. It is my go-to song for needing a simple pick-me-up during a stressful day......a reminder that there are other things going on around me and I should focus on them and have fun with life rather than lock myself away from the world.
4) We by Neil Diamond - It has become a tradition to hear Sweet Caroline at just about any bar that I go to.....it's a classic! Everyone I know can name at least that song when they hear the name Neil Diamond. But what about his other songs? I'm sure that if everyone really thought about it, they could come up with more than just one song by Neil that they're familiar with. America......I'm A Believer.......Hello Again.......all wonderfully crafted songs in their own right. But We takes the classic Neil we all know and love and turns him into an acoustic genius! Discovering this hidden gem on the soundtrack to Funny People, I found myself diving deep into the lyrical ocean of romance.......awed by its simplicity in words and meaning. Because in this particular song, Neil Diamond portrays love as more than just a one-way thing.....he gives it dimension and understanding. It takes both parties to make love work, not just you or me. But us.
5) When The Tigers Broke Free by Pink Floyd - For any die-hard fans of The Wall, this song is legend. Yet for those who are not familiar with the album and have only acquainted themselves with Pink Floyd's more popular hits, then I feel sorry for you.....because you have no idea on what you're missing out on! Broken up into two parts in the movie, When The Tigers Broke Free tells the story of how Pink's father was taken from him during the war. The way Waters paints this vivid picture of his father in the midst of combat and how the King signed the letter notifying his family of his father's death with a rubber stamp......it's moving in ways that one cannot even comprehend. You feel the raw, yet disconnected emotion within the words and the melody.
6) Ripple by Grateful Dead - Now this is a true B-Side, as it was known as one for the single Truckin'. I admit I am not the hugest fan of the Dead, but there a few signature songs that I can really get into......this one being one of them. What truly sets this apart from most songs is the way the song itself describes a person's life like a ripple in the water (of life): it is short and will eventually fade, but at least while it's there it makes an impact on the water.
7) Warning Sign by Coldplay - In its entirety, A Rush of Blood to the Head is one amazing album......I recommend this album to anyone who is looking for something intriguing to listen to. And yes, while there are many great hit songs on this particular album, Warning Sign is one that shakes me down to the very core. I can remember many nights of crying about stupid boys when I heard this song. The words talking about loss in a way where the person singing wants nothing more than to forget the loss and be back in their arms again. Whether it be about the loss of someone close to you or mourning the end of a relationship, the song always catches me in a way that no other Coldplay song can. It's looking for those signs that the end was near, but you couldn't find it.......and let's face it, how many of us have been in that position before? Quite a few.
8) Disenchanted by My Chemical Romance - There is definitely more to My Chemical Romance than just I'm Not Okay (I Promise) and this song is testament to it. Off the album Welcome to the Black Parade this is one song that has always grabbed me more than anything else MCR has released. From my own interpretation, I always took it as the idea that the person singing was talking about the idea of how they overcame adversity from their past and made it to the point where they view those who tormented them as lonely and unwanted. I distinctly feeling empowered by the melody and the words strolling through the streets of NYC to my travel filmmaking class after a wonderful night in the early stages of dating Matt and the world before me.
9) Einstein on the Beach (Waiting for an Eggman) by Counting Crows - Ever have one of those moments where you hear a song and it takes you back? Well, of course I wrote about this in my previous blog, but I saved this song for here, because Counting Crows are such an eclectic and charming band that just happen to have a lot of singles! Yet this song is such a rare track that I had to include it on this list. I can remember my friend Katie and her sister, Drea, in the car with me......and this song blaring as loud as possible through the speakers. Years later, I purchased the compilation Films About Ghosts (The Best of Counting Crows) and couldn't help but put this song on repeat, re-living the first day I had heard it and blaring it as loud as possible.
10) Cried by Hanson - So if you couldn't tell, I do actually like Hanson......ever since they came out with Mmmbop in 1997. I went to more than one concert, own quite a few of their albums, and thanks to my family, own quite a bit of memorabilia. When the song I Will Come To You came out as a single, Cried was the actual B-Side on it. The first time my friend Katie and I heard the song, we fell in love. It was catchy, it was something we could dance to, and most important, it was our favorite band singing it. And for those who still bash Hanson to this day, keep in mind that these three brothers started writing and performing their own music when most of us were still into Barbies and Hot Wheels. Now that is certainly impressive.
I have always considered the B-Side as the under-appreciated music. Many of us can relate to feeling like that, wanting to take the spotlight, yet not feeling like we have the star material. But the best part about it all? Those who do appreciate it understand what makes it special......and makes it stand out above the ones that clamor for the spotlight.