These are just a few good songs from albums that didn't become radio hits. Sometimes the hits by a band are good: Chicago's album songs are often unbearable. In other cases, such as The Fray and OneRepublic, the album cuts are the best songs. These songs are in no particular order.
"Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite." by The Beatles. The Sgt. Pepper's album had a lot of good hits on it--scratch that, every song on that album is good. The Beatle's musical diversity was so great that they could write a circus music song with lyrics taken from a circus flyer from the 1800s, and it was still good.
"Reflections" by the Charlie Daniels Band. I don't know if this song was a hit or not. You can find it on the 3-disc collection of his music. Songs like "The South's Gonna Do It Again" and "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" were good. This one is great. It's a tribute to musicians who have passed on, specifically Elvis, Janis Joplin, and Ronnie Van Zandt of Lynyrd Skynyrd (The most underrated of classic rock bands). "Heaven should be proud."
"Hundred" by The Fray. The Fray is best known for their hits, "How To Save A Life", "Over My Head." Those songs are awful compared to the cuts from their first album. Unlike many piano-pop bands, The Fray actually has a talented pianist, and this ballad shows him off at his best ability. All the other album cuts are very good too.
"Oh My God" by Jars of Clay. Off the Good Monsters album. Probably the best song on a life-changing album. I can't describe it, just listen to it. I will warn, however, that it makes more sense in the context of the album than listened to on its own.
"Four Walls of Raiford" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. A lost Skynyrd track, and their best song. Most of the Skynyrd songs that get played on the radio are either not that good to begin with, or played to death (There should be a moratorium on Sweet Home Alabama). This song is about a Vietnam vet who is thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit, and is escaping. It's heart wrenching.
And in an A.D.D. moment, another great Vietnam vet song is "Rooster" by Alice in Chains, which is definitely in the top five patriotic rock songs of all time.
"All Fall Down" by OneRepublic. OneRepublic's best music is hidden. This one is an acoustic-guitar driven song, complimented by some tense strings. Despair never sounded so good, except on the other good despair songs, but that's a topic for a later post.
"Why Not Smile" by R.E.M. From the Up album, although I have never heard it in the context; I know it from a compilation. The first R.E.M. song I heard, a haunting acoustic ballad. Michael Stipe doesn't even sound like Michael Stipe on the song.
"Dearest" by Buddy Holly. The best Buddy song, free from the mindless rockabilly of his earlier music, or the mindless syrupy fluff of his later music. Buddy had a unique voice, was a great stylist, and definitely had not reached the peak of his potential when he died. If he had continued to write songs like this, he would be even more remembered.
"Life In Rain" by Remy Zero. From the Villa Elaine album. I don't know why, but most of these songs are ballads. I guess it is because the record companies pick out the fast, catchy songs for singles. This song is particularly relevant because it has been raining a lot around here lately. If you listen to it, you can feel the rain.
"The Dangling Conversation" by Simon and Garfunkel, off the Essential album, one of the songs put in as padding in between the songs like "Sounds of Silence", "Scarborough Fair", and that gospel song. Simon and Garfunkel were the first to write rock songs with intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. Bob Dylan, who came around the same time period, wrote songs with all the hallmarks of intellectualism except for intelligibility. Anyway, this song shows what good lyric-writing should be. I think Paul Simon was right in choosing Robert Frost.
"Lady Jane" by The Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones at their worst turned out crass, stupid pop music, were personally vulgar and snotty, stole music from authentic black American musicians, and sang in a stupid fake Southern accent. At their best they did songs like this, a pseudo-elizabethan ballad. The mellow Stones beat the loud and rowdy Stones or the old and ugly Stones any day.
"On Fire" by Switchfoot. From the Beautiful Letdown album. Switchfoot's ballads are killers (in a good way, not in a Jack-the-Ripper kind of way), and this is one of the best. Still not sure what it's about, but the passion in it makes up for my confusion.
"Sooner or Later (Soren's Song)" by Switchfoot. From the New Way To Be Human album. Coming in the tradition of Paul Simon (see above), Jon Foreman writes a rock song about a philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. And it's a really good rock song, too. Coincidentally, the song "Leaf" by mewithoutYou also mentions Kierkegaard's book Purity of Heart is to Want One Thing. It seems that Christian Existentialism is a popular theme in intelligent Christian rock music, and this should be explored more deeply.
"Red Hill Mining Town" by U2. From The Joshua Tree. You gotta love the good old sorta Christian liberals. The multi-millionaire rock star Bono knows so much about the working class. I mean, he's got pink glasses, so he must know everything, right? In all seriousness, this track from U2's breakout album is good, despite the fact that it probably has some sort of "share all your money" theme behind it. Back in the day, before they became big time rock stars, U2 was capable of writing lots of very moving songs. They still are, occasionally.
Do you have any favorite songs by artists that weren't radio singles? Post a comment and tell us.
Currently Listening: Abandon Kansas EP, Abandon Kansas.
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