I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d bet that there are two big questions that reissue producers and catalogue compilers get from fans. There’s “What about a proper reissue/expansion of such-and-such an album?” and “Why did you miss/forget that one track?” I’ve been thinking about that last query lately – and I’ll bet you’ve thought about it at some point, too.
Oh sure, to some of your friends and fellow fans it sounds crazy – why on Earth would someone obsess over one stupid little track?, they might wonder to themselves. It also seems a bit greedy, considering how much labels have given from their vaults in recent years. But anyone who writes off that one track is missing something that you’re probably not. People like you and I, who wonder how that one lonely track could be missing from such a devoted lineup of B-sides or alternates, are in tune with something almost intangible. For some, that one track means completing a collection, or reliving a fond musical memory, or justifying a re-purchase of that worn-out CD copy with a newer, pricier one.
Right now, my one track is a pretty simple one. Billy Joel’s “Sometimes a Fantasy,” a single from his oddly endearing Glass Houses (1980), barely cracked the Top 40 when released. But it’s always been one of my favorite songs of the Piano Man’s. So imagine my surprise to find out, some years ago, that the original 45 RPM single had a longer version of the song!
As a child who a) didn’t grow up with many vinyl singles and b) frequently turned up cassette and CD players to hear as much of a song before it faded out, this was a revelation. While the regular album version fades after about 3 minutes and 40 seconds in, the 45 version continues nearly a minute past that fadeout, engaging in some more fancy fretwork and piano riffs before a chaotic ending that Beatles fans would appreciate (hint: “Helter Skelter” reference).
Call it crazy or devoted if you want. But remember that we all have that one track. Which one is yours? I’d love to hear about it.