I was strumming through the Captain’s Quarters archive last nite looking for some inspiration when I came across this entry from two years ago. In my second installment of Top 5 I made the following statement:
In my mind, the most important two songs on any mix tape are the first one and the last one. The last song is usually the most memorable, but the first song has the difficult task of setting the mood.
How can I make a statement like this and leave out half of the equation? I fully meant to follow up on this with a corresponding entry on final songs but somehow I forgot. Time to close this one out.
Top 5 Songs To End A Mix Tape
1. Glory Box – Portishead
Usually when I’m ending a mix tape I go for mellow; something to ease the listener into the finish line. This has been the gold standard for ending on a mellow note for over 15 years now. Portishead did so many things right on their 1994 debut, Dummy, but ending it was their masterpiece.
2. Across The Universe – Fiona Apple
In keeping with the mellow theme, my runner-up for best ending is Fiona Apple’s 1998 cover of Across The Universe. Back before musical downloads were common this was my go-to song due to its rarity1. But it still holds up today as a marvelous way to unwind a mix. Something about her dreamy take on Lennon’s classic instantly puts me in a relaxed state.
3. Ooh La La – The Faces
The idea for using this as a final track was totally stolen from the ending of Rushmore. I couldn’t help myself from stealing the idea; it just makes too much sense. The track manages to end on an upbeat note no matter what the rest of the mix contains.
4. California Stars –Wilco
This little gem came from Wilco’s 1998 collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue. The album was set up as a way to add music to unused Woody Guthrie lyrics provided by his daughter. Thus, it’s a Wilco song without any of Jeff Tweedy’s goofy lyrics. This was a genius move as far as I’m concerned. The song has the perfect mix of hope and warmth, which I attribute to Jay Bennett still being in the band.
5. Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
Sometimes the best way to end a mixtape is with a quirky little wink to the listener. To that end nothing beats these 1:46 seconds of Janis singing acapella. The song is good for a chuckle, but it’s the way she says “That’s it!” followed by her strange cackle at the end that really make the song. And speaking of endings…
1. I actually had to plop down six bucks for a used copy of the Pleasantville soundtrack just to get this track.