A great last song ties up an album, bringing climax and closure to an aural experience.Â It should leave you satisfied, like after a great roll in the sack, providing a sense of denouement to the listener. Secret tracks don’t count as great last tracks; the requisite preceding 30 seconds of radio silence breaks the continuity of the album (and used to be a bitch to get to if the silence and the song were tracked together).
Too many of my favorite bands end their albums with a track that feels like a poorly attached afterthought.Â There’s nothing worse than finishing off a masterpiece of an album with a weak, emotionless throw-away song with no “oomph” to speak of (Tool â€“ I’m looking at you).
To me, a great last song is: 1) iconic (Zeppelin, The Beatles), 2) perfectly exemplary of the methodology and style of the band (DMB, Pink Floyd), or 3) a perfect narrative resolution of the album (R.E.M., Rufus).
Here’s my tentative top 10 (as always, it’s subject to change as my tastes evolve… and as I clean up my iTunes to put all of said album tracks in order… I need Mike to hire me an intern!).
Disagree or have additions?Â Tell me in the comments!
Best Last Tracks (in no particular order, as of 2009)
- “Dinner at Eight” – Rufus Waintwright (Want One)
- “I Know” – Fiona Apple (When the Pawn…)
- “Lithium Sunset” – Sting (Mercury Falling)
- “Brain Damage / Eclipse” – Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon)
- “Everyday” – Dave Matthews Band (Everyday)
- “Lady Grinning Soul” – David Bowie (Aladdin Sane)
- “Find the River” – R.E.M. (Automatic for the People)
- “A Day in the Life” – The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
- “I’m Not Worried At All” – Moby (18)
- “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin (Physical Graffiti disc 1)