July 13, 2024


I Fall For Art

Eleven Penultimate Tracks From Great Rock Albums

Eleven Penultimate Tracks From Great Rock Albums

Neither conference championship game was very exciting, as New England trounced Pittsburgh and Atlanta dismantled Green Bay. All football fans are hoping the Super Bowl will prove to be more of a nail biter.

What would really be nice is to have a contest much like those to set up the conference championship matchups, when the Packers beat the Cowboys on a last second field goal and the Steelers edged the Chiefs when a fourth quarter two point conversion was nullified. The Super Bowl will not likely be as exciting as either of those penultimate games before the championships.

When it comes to superior penultimate occurrences, one only needs to look at the world of music. Some of the best rock albums ever recorded have their outstanding track as the second to last song, a phenomenon known as the penultimate track.

Stylusmagazine.com listed “Going To California” from Led Zeppelin IV and “Don’t Stop Me Now” from Queen’s Jazz album. Both songs are the standouts on their respective records, far superior to the final tracks.

In Issue 79 of Big Takeover magazine, columnist Jeff Kelson discusses a rather comprehensive list of what he terms penultimate tracks, second to last songs that are much better than the one that follows. Among the tracks he mentions are “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths from The Queen Is Dead and “Eton Rifles” by the Jam from Setting Sons. Two others listed are “Behind Blue Eyes” by the Who from Who’s Next andThe Needle and the Damage Done” from Neil Young’s Harvest.

Although he failed to make Kelson’s column, Elton John could actually appear twice on any discussion about penultimate tracks. The standout track on Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is the second to last song, “Honky Cat.” The follow up album Caribou featured its biggest hit, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” as the second to last tune.

Here are eleven other penultimate songs, along with the artists and the album they come from.

Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles

This timeless love ballad is the second to last song from the band’s self-titled debut, which also featured “Take It Easy” and “Witchy Woman.”

Ballad of Dwight Frye by Alice Cooper

Love It To Death was the breakthrough album as “I’m Eighteen” hit the Top Ten, but the best of the ten songs is the ninth.

How Lovely All It Was by the Old 97s

This second to last song from the alternative country band’s from The Grand Theater Volume II recalls the music the Eagles made on their first few records.

Death At One’s Elbow by The Smiths

The group’s last album, Strangeways Here We Come, is a collection of British rock highlighted by its penultimate song that has Morrissey pleading, “Oh Glenn, don’t come to the house tonight.”

Suit of Lights by Elvis Costello

King of America indicated a more acoustic direction for Costello, and his Attractions appeared only on the album’s second to last song.

Crackerbox Palace by George Harrison

The Beatles guitarist did his most accessible work on 33 & 1/3, on which the penultimate song was also the biggest hit.

Dress Me Up As a Robber by Paul McCartney

The Stevie Wonder collaboration “Ebony and Ivory” closes Tug of War, but the track preceding it has long been considered the best on the record.

Oh Brother by Frank Turner

This poignant tribute from Tape Deck Heart shows the British alt rocker at his finest lyrically.

Gone For Good by the Shins

This title would have been perfect for the closing song on Chutes Too Narrow, but James Mercer and his band placed one after it.

Death and Night and Blood by the Stranglers

Black and White featured a dark side and a white side, so a song with such a morbid trifecta would obviously appear on the black side.

Pretty Girls by Joe Jackson

The debut album Look Sharp is comprised of eleven catchy tunes, but the best of the bunch is track ten.