Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Greatest Closing Track of All Time

A few months ago, NPR's "All Songs Considered" blog did an entry asking readers to tell them what they thought the greatest closing tracks of all time were.

Now I know what you're thinking: NPR sucks. It is not metal. It is for yuppies. Their news is biased. They speak in monotone, and a large number of their employees have speech impediments.

The fact is that NPR does not suck. Because there is not one media outlet on this planet that does more with less.


Is it for yuppies? I couldn't tell you. I may be on the wrong side of "young", but I'm urban and professional, and there's not much I can do about that.

Is their news biased? Let me tell you something, Jack: All news is biased. FOX and MSNBC are fucking embarrassing in what they cover. CNN is fucking embarrassing in what they don't cover. Cry "liberal" all you want, but NPR does more actual analysis than anyone this side of John-fucking-McLaughlin.

Do they have an unusually high number of employees who are (literally) physically incapable of properly enunciating? Yes. Yes, they do

All of this is beside the point. Because near as I know, FOX and MSNBC don't know shit about music. And NPR absolutely does.

So, when I came across this particular NPR blog entry, I spent a good deal of time poring over the comments section, disappointed at how predictable so many of the selections were...the countless calls for "Sgt. Pepper", "Dark Side" and "Highway 61" from the balding pot-bellies I always associated with NPR listeners....along with the equally predictable calls for the closing cuts from albums by the Afghan Whigs, Radiohead, The Clash, and U2.

My selection? My selection reminds me that no matter how gray I am or how socially liberal my politics might become, I'm not quite the same as these NPR people.

Because I believe that the greatest closing track of all time happens to be"Rocket Queen", which concluded Guns n'Roses' debut album, "Appetite for Destruction".

It certainly wasn't a popular choice among their followers, but "Rocket Queen" was, in fact, a stunning closer for "Appetite". In the midst of a debut album that was more violent, more angry, and more misogynistic than just about anything else that had hit the mainstream (certainly much meaner than anything the Sunset Strip had produced in recent memory), "Rocket Queen" basks in a socially and lyrically filthy, over-the-top sexuality, making bedroom promises that would be fully threatening if they weren't so offhandedly boastful.

"You'd better turn me on tonight," Axl sneers, his bravado and contempt stemming from the power inherent in even having that choice.

It's nearly feminine in that regard....which is an interesting way of thinking about it.

Because out of nowhere, the songs stops on a dime approximately three minutes into what might be the funkiest and most sexual groove in the history of hard rock. And it shifts gears towards a much more classic, romantic, Southern-rock-style conclusion.

Those last three minutes are shockingly tender. They are pleading and vulnerable in a way that dreck like "November Rain" could never be, lacking any traces whatsoever of self-consciousness. Expanding on what I mentioned earlier about a nearly feminine voice for this song, it's not impossible to imagine this as - brace yourselves - a love letter from one prostitute to another.

And I challenge you to sit down with the song and consider that theory.

On one hand, this track would seem to reveal that there's more to Guns n'Roses than Jack Daniels, strippers, groupies and cocaine.

On the other hand, their debut album ends right there, with literally nothing but those three minutes to support such a claim.


kesseljunkie said...

Great post, and interesting choice. I think that part of the fun of looking back at songs from rockers who are seemingly so angry or dismissive at women is that the source of their anger is most likely hurt. A wise man once told me that hurt is root of all anger, and so figure out what's hurting you and you'll figure out why you're angry. Miss that guy.

Anyhoo, I respect the choice. Predictably, I fall into the camp that would pick a Doors song as the greatest capper ever (The End) because by the end of that song you don't know whether to laugh, weep or cheer since Morrison lays out everything that's wrong inside his head without remorse.

It's all subjective, though I can argue that the *worst* closing track of all time is "Inside" off 5150 because it's the ultimate anti-climax after a brilliant album.

t-o-n said...

"The End", as you may have guessed, was a popular choice on this original discussion.

I have always wondered if I would like that song more or less were it not for Coppola.