If you’ve got a favorite artist, I’m sure you know most of their songs, yet cringe when you hear the popular ones repeated over and over on the radio. I know I do.
When the Goo Goo Dolls came out with their album, Dizzy Up the Girl, possibly their most popular album to date, it was well loved because of the song, “Iris.” Granted, this song is great, with the chorus line: “And I don’t want the world to see me, ‘cause I don’t think that they’d understand. When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.” Obviously there are many details that are great with this song, or else it wouldn’t have been so popular, but what about the other songs? The ones that didn’t get as much credit? The B-sides?
Take “Acoustic #3,” for example. As a 90’s kid, Dizzy Up the Girl became one of my favorite albums quickly. Yeah, I loved the popular tracks like “Iris” and “Slide,” but I fell in love with “Acoustic #3.” The song is simple, showing of Johnny Rzeznik’s voice and a beautiful acoustic picking pattern (when I first started to learn guitar, this was one of the first songs I learned to play!). If you listen closely, however, the lyrics are the staple that make the song so great. Rzeznik sings of a girl who can’t pursue her dreams because “the world gets in her way” and her parents hold her back. Many of us can relate to this—we sometimes even get in the way of ourselves. There isn’t a resolution to the song, but Rzeznik asks what’s the point of trying to help if “you’re not listening anyway?” As students, employees, bosses, parents, children, and friends, we get stuck in situations and we let reality get in the way of ourselves. I think Rzeznik paints the picture of this girl as a reflection, maybe of his past, but also as a representation of what we shouldn’t do.
Another band with great B-sides is Mumford & Sons (listen to their new album, Babel, if you haven’t yet!). On their first album, Sigh No More, “Little Lion Man” and “Sigh No More,” were quite popular, but for my friends and I, “Awake My Soul,” was a hands down favorite. It didn’t get the acclaim it may have deserved, but the entire song definitely has credence as wonderful B-side track. The song repeats a simple tag line over and over with wonderful harmonies: “Awake my soul, awake my soul, for you were made to meet your maker.” Marcus Mumford’s voice is powerful and their unique combination of instruments make goose bumps come up on my skin.
Both of these bands are great and they have powerful popular songs, but their B-sides deserve credit too. As well rounded listeners, we should take time to find B-sides of artist’s that we love and never settle for just the popular music; I can tell you this, my appetite for great music is insatiable.