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Song Curation Matters: Top 5 B2B Songs

The curation of an album is something that all artists take very seriously, just recently we even had Adele stipulate a contingency that if her album were to be available on Spotify that the auto shuffle button would have to be removed from the app, citing this very notion and Tweeting, “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening.” Way to go Adele. A well curated album is really one of the most underrated parts of an album, as it does become the story to us as a listener. Maybe something that was a little more common in the Album/CD era, but I have certain albums that I can basically start singing the next song before the previous song has even finished playing, like the slow start to “Wish You Were Here” coming off the end of “Have a Cigar” or “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” kicking into “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” they are hardwired into my memory. It may just be me but I often will play a part of an album because it has two really good songs back to back, maybe to recreate these odd brain functions, maybe because it makes picking music easier but it’s led me to start to thinking of these song combos as such which begs me to ask the question: What is the best back-to-back song combo of all time?

Normally I hate a whittle things down to a “Top______” list because naturally they are subjective and biased but sometimes that fun. As follows is a Top 5 list of these back-to-back tracks and the albums they come from, full of my own bias and special relationship to the pair. It’s a list that holds no merit other than on an evening in my car when I can’t figure out what to put on and I go to an old reliable duo because I know these tracks compliment each other in a way that always leaves me puzzled at how these musicians were able to elevate to such greatness not just twice in one album but with the foresight to do it back-to-back.

5. “White Gloves/People Everywhere (Still Alive)” The Universe Smiles Upon You – Khruangbin

Chalk this one up to recency bias if you want to, as these are two of my top songs from 2021 but the fact that these two songs exist together back-to-back on an album is prime example of this whole notion. The Universe Smiles Upon You was an album I was constantly putting on but in the instances I didn’t have time for the entire album, these two tracks always hit the spot.

4. “Come Together/Something” Abbey Road – The Beatles

These are the songs that are probably the two biggest hits, two absolute classics delivered as the first two songs on the now infamous Abbey Road. Both songs are so famous that they’ve sadly become commonplace now but, none-the-less, a showing that only The Beatles could pull off. I think it says a lot about these tracks that the first is of the standard Lennon-McCartney tag but the second one, being a George Harrison track, maybe does the best job of showing the groups diversity.

3. “N.Y. State of Mind/Life’s A Bitch” Illmatic – Nas

It says enough about this debut album that these two tracks were on it and though Illmatic boasted many good tracks these two are my favorite. The raw energy of the beat combined with the mile a minute flow of Nas on “N.Y. State of Mind” into the jazzy “Life’s a Bitch” both with some of the most vivid lyrical imagery Nas has ever laid down, so poignant and specific it almost becomes like watching a movie with your ears.

2. “Let Down/Karma Police” OK Computer – Radiohead

Possibly the most diverse selection, I really wonder if Radiohead even knew if these two songs were masterpieces when they decided to put them right next to each other on the album. “Karma Police” which became the second single from the album with a music video as well was clearly one of the bands biggest songs but “Let Down”, I have to admit, may be more of a personal choice, as was not one of the four singles from the album but is without question my favorite Radiohead songs.

1.” Free Falling/I Won’t Back Down” Full Moon Fever – Top Petty

For real though…how are these songs back-to-back? Famously (and described by TP himself in his documentary Running Down A Dream), “I Won’t Back Down” was written in another room while “Free Fallin’” was being finished up in the studio next door. These two songs are really a master class in songwriting and throw in the fact that George and Ringo played on “I Won’t Back Down” and it’s a regular piece of Rock n’ Roll folklore. “Free Fallin’” has gone on to become Petty most popular song, becoming immortalized in movies such as Jerry Maguire, all the while, “I Won’t Back Down” an anthem for the downtrodden, these two songs have these separate stories, both equally meaningful in the halls of culture, and it’s truly amazing to think that Petty led off with them on Full Moon Fever, it’s truly masterful.

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