The other day I was talking about how us catalogue fans can sometimes end up wanting that one missing track to add to our collections. I used the 45 version of Billy Joel’s “Sometimes a Fantasy,” which runs well past the fade-out on the LP, as an example. Interestingly enough, I realized that the track also adhered to another concept I realized I’m enamored of concerning music in general.
When I was a kid, I was always interested in the idea of a fade-out. You’d be listening to a song, getting all excited, and then gradually the song quiets down to nothing, even though the music was still going. That drove me nuts! I frequently risked hearing damage to listen to as much of those fade-outs as I could, quickly turning the sound back down before the next track blared in.
As I became more well-versed in the world of catalogue music, I realized that some artists and compilers seemed to share my opinion on the fade-out. As I got more and more into 12″ remixes, where other bits of the master recording could be utilized, I was hooked. Michael Jackson could be good for that sometimes (notably the 12″ to “Billie Jean,” which is just an unedited version of the song). So could Prince – the grossly underrated “Mountains,” off the Parade album, lets you hear another six or seven minutes of jamming. (This didn’t always work for The Purple One, as anyone who’s heard the 26-minute version of “America” or the unreleased half-hour jam on “I Would Die 4 U” – later edited to ten minutes on the 12″ single – can attest.)
I’ve also earned some vindication from the Rock Band series of video games. I could write a whole series of posts on how it’s opened me up to new acts and let me rediscover songs I’d heard a million times before. But one of the simplest pleasures in those games have been hearing a song that usually fades out come to a complete stop instead. Sometimes the goal is met through obvious editing, but sometimes a concrete ending, or otherwise unheard material, can be unearthed. (Cases in point: Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69,” Squeeze’s “Tempted” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”)
So the next time you hop up to turn up your speakers to get those last sounds out of a song, don’t feel bad – you’re in good company. And what fade-out songs do you find yourself turning up? Let’s talk in the comment section.