How time flies! It was about 18 months ago now that we collected an epic selection of our favorite opening lines in music, and we’ve been meaning to get around to closing lines ever since. There are plenty of candidates for such honors as far as films and books go, but surprisingly few for music — it’s a more difficult exercise than it looks, perhaps because heaps of songs end with multiple renditions of the chorus rather than a punchy parting shot. Still, we’ve put together a bumper selection: 50 of the best. We’d also love to hear the lines you reckon also merit inclusion, so let us know your nominations in the comments section. (For these purposes, we’re generally discounting hanging final choruses, or the list would be a whole lot shorter.)
“Planet Earth is blue/ And there’s nothing I can do” — David Bowie, “Space Oddity”
So, as we noted, we’re generally skipping trailing choruses here — but then, part of the genius of “Space Oddity” is how the meaning of its chorus changes with each iteration. The first time Major Tom’s staring in wonder at the world; the second, he’s staring in horror as he drifts away from it.
“How strange it is/ To be anything at all” — Neutral Milk Hotel, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”
Has anyone ever summed up the glorious absurdity of existence better in a short sentence than this?
“OK, that’s a take!” — Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, “Silver and Gold”
An aside to the engineer, and sadly also the last words we’d ever hear Joe Strummer utter on record — he died before the album was completed.
“If she’s passin’ back this way, I’m not that hard to find/ Tell her she can look me up if she’s got the time” — Bob Dylan, “If You Say Her, Say Hello”
This pretty much defines “poignant,” doesn’t it? And just a wee bit bitter, too?
“If you see him, say hi” — Tori Amos, “Baker Baker”
And we’ve always rather enjoyed the way Tori Amos inverts Dylan’s line with this song.