I’m a 2per. So is George Harrison, and so is John Entwistle, and so is Dave Davies. That’s the term I’m slapping on a person in a band with a dominant songwriter who typically gets two of his songs included on each album among the principal songwriter’s songs. When I brought up the concept to E. Pluribus Gergley of RTH discussing who the best 2per is, he responded in his typically open-minded way that there’s nothing to discuss. It’s George Harrison. So I sat on the topic until I thought of a different angle on it.
What I thought was that in the parallel universe where the Beatles are exactly the same, but George never wrote a song for them, the Beatles are still considered the greatest of all time. So, despite George being the greatest all-time songwriting 2per, you don’t REALLY need his songs for the Beatles to still be as great as they are. They didn’t necessarily need anyone to play that role because they had plenty of songs with enough variety already. His songs just fit in at that same level of quality with a fairly similar perspective, excluding the Indian-themed numbers that are considered George’s weakest anyway. So maybe the greatest 2per’s songs have to fit a specific role in their band, and the band would be radically diminished without having the 2per’s input.
So what role is Entwistle or Dave Davies playing with their 2-song contributions? Are their songs ever better than their more dominant band mates? Are there other significant 2pers, and what role do they play in elevating the band beyond what you’d get if you only had songs from the main guy(s)? Is it better when their songs fit right in, or is better when they are clearly a songwriting departure? I’m confident throwing Colin Moulding into the discussion. Proportionally, the man wrote many more hits than his more recognized and prolific partner in XTC. They are clearly a much weaker band without getting his 2-song contributions each album.