Nov 252013

Even better than the real thing?

Even better than the real thing?

Okay, so for whatever reason, the only thing I can listen to lately is my entire oeuvre of Sonic Youth. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I know, most of you lot don’t like them. That’s not the point.

The point is: I was thinking about how Smashing Pumpkins1979 is the best thing Sonic Youth “never wrote.” Similarly, I feel that The Verve‘s Bittersweet Symphony is the best thing Jagger & Richards never wrote. [Or did they? – Mod.]

So that got me to thinking: What are other songs that one-up the influence? Which tunes distill the shape and inspiration to manifest and encapsulate the essence of their model? Fill in the blank: ________is the best thing______never wrote.


  28 Responses to “Music and Lyrics by___________.”

  1. I was listening to a song just the other day that had me thinking along these lines. I am trying to remember what it was. As I work on that I’m sure other instances will come to mind.

  2. As some of you may know, I’m not a big Prince fan, but “When Doves Cry” capped off the job Sly Stone wasn’t able to finish.

  3. cliff sovinsanity

    Point of clarification – Is the question of “one upping” the original artist or the song? Are you really suggesting that Bittersweet Symphony is better than anything in the Jagger/Richards songbook?
    I think The Strokes song 12:51 is the best thing the Cars never wrote, but I’m not suggesting that The Strokes are better than The Cars.

  4. diskojoe

    “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” by the Hollies was probably the best song that CCR never did.

  5. Hollywood Hills by the Beat Farmers is the best song Bruce Springsteen never wrote.

  6. I’m not saying that Hollywood Hills is better than all Bruce Springsteen songs. I’m saying that it is the best song that sounds like it could have been written by him but wasn’t.

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    “Boys Are Back In Town” is the best song never written by Bruce Springsteen. And it *is* superior to the vast majority of Bruuuuuce songs, in my view.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    … and the same goes for “Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight).”

  9. No, never better. More like “that song would not be out of place in ______’s catalog”.

  10. I’ll high five that, and possibly suggest that “Creep” by Radiohead is the best thing The Hollies never did (compare “The Air That I Breathe”).

  11. Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law” couldn’t sound more like a Buddy Holly song. (Not to mention any other song I’ve heard by them.)

  12. misterioso

    It could if it were “Sheila” by Tommy Roe.

  13. Stone Temple Pilot’s “Plush” could be on a Pearl Jam’s greatest “Hits” album.

  14. misterioso

    Yes, but, on the other hand, how much Prince sounds like a gloss on There’s a Riot Going On and Fresh? (I would say: quite a lot.)

  15. misterioso

    If I said that Smashing Pumpkins‘ 1979 is the best thing Sonic Youth “never wrote” it would be taken as a dig at SY or SP or both. And it would be meant that way, actually. So, good. Carry on.

  16. “If I was Your Girlfriend” by Prince is the best song Flight of the Conchords never wrote.

  17. I don’t get what you mean. I think Riot is a mess (an enjoyable, interesting one), one of the most overrated albums deemed “important” by a critical culture hooked on the notion that Great Artists must deliver Great LPs. I remember that last album sounding slick and bloated compared with all the amazing singles of their prime.

    What I meant, if I wasn’t clear, was that I feel that one Prince song picks up on the pre-burnt Sly and brings it into the modern age with all the energy and focus of the band’s prime records.

  18. BigSteve

    The Flamin’ Groovies’ Teenage Head is the best Stones album they never made.

  19. misterioso

    I understood what you meant, Mod, and to an extent, I agree, re Prince and Sly.

    What I meant was that I think that a lot of Prince (and I mean this as a compliment) sounds to me like variations on Riot and Fresh. Which I think are fantastic records. I especially have never understood the general disdain or ignorance of Fresh–including my own ignorance for a long time. Hearing it was a real eye-opener–this is probably about 20 years ago or more, but obviously long after it came out! Slick and bloated? I wonder if we are talking about the same record. “In Time” might be the best song Prince never recorded.

    But, yeah, overall I place a higher value on a great album than a great single, and as far as that goes, I think I like creepy and wacked-out Sly a little more than happy, peppy, and bursting with love Sly. I wouldn’t want to hang with the guy who made Riot and Fresh, but I love the records.

  20. I’m thankful that we’re entering Thanksgiving weekend on a close enough page. I haven’t heard Fresh since 1985 or so, so my memory is especially hazy! I’ll have to try that again one of these days.

  21. The first Modern Lovers album is the best album the Velvet Underground never made.

  22. Now tha’s what ahm talkin’ bout.

  23. Got a few…

    “Caught by the Fuzz” by Supergrass is the best Buzzcocks song they never recorded. “Seen the Light” is the best T. Rex song Marc Bolan never recorded.

    “In My Own Time” by the Bee Gees is the best Beatles song that never appeared on Revolver.

  24. jeangray

    “In Time” sounds nothing like Prince!

  25. misterioso

    jg, I presume you’re pulling my leg.

  26. sammymaudlin

    Ha! I did version of this post back in June of 2007 and I’m glad to see that folks seem to now understand the concept. Tip-of-the-hat to Slim for explaining it better than I. Here’s the archive:

    Go there and you’ll The Best ZZ Top Song that ZZ Top Didn’t Do. So says I.

  27. The Kinks’ “Father Christmas” is the best song the Clash never wrote.


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