Top 30 Album-Closing Songs
The closing song on an album may be the most significantly placed track on an LP. Taking nothing away from the opening songs, there's something in both the summation and signs of things to come of the final tracks, as you'll see in the below list of Top 30 Album-Closing Songs.
It's no surprise that artists who have used the album format to make statements beyond just a collection of singles and some filler have recorded some of the greatest album-closing tracks. Some of those artists - such as the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and the Who - appear more than once. Others just happened to place a defining moment of their careers in the coveted spot.
The last track on an album often hints at an artist's future, whether it's a wide turn from the rest of the LP or a seemingly tossed-off cut that doesn't quite fit in with the themes of the preceding songs. Just as often, especially in conceptual works, the final track closes a chapter in the story or a page in the artist's career.
There's also poignancy to several of these album-closing songs. Would the final track on the last Nirvana album mean as much without the tragedy that followed? And, Beatles alert again, would the Fab Four's last recorded LP's slight coda have the impact had they continued to make records in the '70s?
Nearly all of the songs found below have one thing in common: They end their respective albums on notes of grace, bombast and happy accidents. In other words, these classic records wouldn't be as memorable without these final words.
30. Ramones, "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World" (From Ramones, 1976)
Ramones' debut includes songs about beating on brats, sniffing glue and prostitution. But the band leaves its most controversial track for last: a Hitler Youth pop change-up that originally featured the line "I'm a Nazi, baby." The label duly forced a revision.
29. Talking Heads, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" (From Speaking in Tongues, 1983)
The placement of "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" was intentional: At the end of an album of their usual complicated art-funk polyrhythms, Talking Heads deliver a relatively simple love song featuring the same jaunty musical pattern for five minutes.
28. The Velvet Underground, "Sister Ray" (From White Light/White Heat, 1968)
The Velvet Underground's debut album was an unconventional, and out-of-step, slice of noise rock released during the Summer of Love. The follow-up was even more abrasive, concluding with the 17-and-a-half-minute distortion-heavy jam "Sister Ray."
27. Oasis, "Champagne Supernova" (From [What's the Story] Morning Glory?, 1995)
Oasis was already on the way to becoming one of the era's biggest bands when they released their second album in 1995. Released as [What's the Story] Morning Glory?'s sixth and final single, "Champagne Supernova" ended the album on an epic scale.
26. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "American Girl" (From Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976)
When "American Girl" was released as a single in 1977, the debut album's closing track was a commercial bomb. But the song became a favorite at Tom Petty concerts, often ending the shows. It was the last song he played live before his 2017 death.
25. U2, "40" (From War, 1983)
Taken from a Bible psalm, the closing track on U2's third album is a fitting end to a work about the endless cycle of war. "How long to sing this song?" Bono asks. Adding to the levity, the band would exit the stage one by one when "40" closed their shows.
READ MORE: Best Title Tracks From Classic Albums
24. The Beatles, "Her Majesty" (From Abbey Road, 1969)
It's barely a blip of a song, petering out before it even reaches 30 seconds, but as the real last song on the final Beatles album - checking in 14 seconds after "The End" checks out - "Her Majesty" deserves a place in music history. Plus, it's catchy.
23. The Clash, "Train in Vain" (From London Calling, 1979)
The last song on the Clash's third album, and their breakthrough single in the U.S., wasn't even supposed to be there. "Train in Vain" was added at such last minute that the LP's initial track listing didn't even include the song in the credits.
22. The Who, "Love Reign o’er Me" (From Quadrophenia, 1973)
The Who's second rock opera is a loose biography of the band's four members. Its final song rolls in like a storm, saving the main character's downward spiral from bottoming out. Roger Daltrey's soaring vocal is one of his greatest - powerful and restoring.
21. The Beach Boys, "Caroline, No" (From Pet Sounds, 1966)
"Caroline, No" preceded the release of Pet Sounds by two months and was credited solely to Brian Wilson, not the Beach Boys. As the closing track of their masterpiece, it coasts in like a coda, part of the piece but also removed from it. A gorgeous finale.
20. David Bowie, "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" (From The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, 1972)
David Bowie's 1972 concept album about a rock star/savior from outer space reaches its inevitable conclusion in "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide," as Ziggy's career plummets to finality. The song appropriately ended Bowie's star-making concerts in support of the album.
19. The Replacements, "Here Comes a Regular" (From Tim, 1985)
Paul Westerberg finally discarded, for the most part, his bratty songwriting moves on his band's fourth album, embracing a relatively more mature and sophisticated style. "Here Comes a Regular" is the closing acoustic lament told from a lonely barroom.
18. The Beatles, "Good Night" (From The Beatles, 1968)
The Beatles' White Album wasn't so much a group record as a double LP showcasing four separating voices. "Good Night" - written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr - is the lullaby that calms the preceding storm. Comfort after the chaotic "Revolution 9."
17. Bruce Springsteen, "Darkness on the Edge of Town" (From Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978)
Another street opera in the vein of Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town peered at its down-on-their-luck characters through their everyday struggles. It all comes to a close with the title track, a glimmer of hope buried among the desperation.
16. The Rolling Stones, "Salt of the Earth" (From Beggars Banquet, 1968)
"Salt of the Earth" starts with Keith Richards' rusty vocal, accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. By the end of the song, a gospel choir and arrangement closes out the Rolling Stones' creative rebirth, launching one of the greatest runs in rock history.
15. Nine Inch Nails, "Hurt" (From The Downward Spiral, 1994)
Sixty minutes of despair lead to the end of the line for the protagonist of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral. But is it hopeless? "Hurt," the final song on the band's 1994 opus, is vague but arrives as quiet valediction amid the harrowing soundscapes.
READ MORE: Top 40 Album Opening Songs
14. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (From Electric Ladyland, 1968)
The day before the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded the closing track for their final album, the guitarist laid down a 15-minute jam called "Voodoo Chile" with Jack Casady and Steve Winwood. This pared-down version is more focused and way better.
13. Bob Marley and the Wailers, "Redemption Song" (From Uprising, 1980)
The last song on the final LP released by Bob Marley during his lifetime (he died the next year) was written after he was diagnosed with cancer. The solo acoustic track poses a poignant farewell request: "Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?"
12. The Beatles, "Tomorrow Never Knows" (From Revolver, 1966)
The Beatles rarely wasted the closing spot on their albums, starting with the larynx-shredding cover of "Twist and Shout" on their debut. But with Revolver they took it to another level. Their then-most ambitious LP ends with three minutes of the future.
11. Nirvana, "All Apologies" (From In Utero, 1993)
Following Kurt Cobain's death less than seven months after the release of Nirvana's third LP, its closing track gained poignancy, serving as a requiem for the doomed frontman. A haunting acoustic version from MTV Unplugged in New York doubles down.
10. Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row" (From Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)
Bob Dylan has often ended his classic albums with some of his longest songs (see: Blonde on Blonde, Time Out of Mind and Rough and Rowdy Ways). His best LP closer is found on Highway 61 Revisited: the 11-minute surreal masterpiece "Desolation Row."
9. The Doors, "The End" (From The Doors, 1967)
Is there a more appropriately named album-closing song than the one found on the Doors' self-titled debut album? "The End" is nearly 12 minutes of Oedipal fantasy poetry, heavy raga instrumentation and dark, apocalyptic moods. The end, indeed.
8. The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (From Let It Bleed, 1969)
The Rolling Stones ended their first decade with one of their best albums, a record that doubled as a requiem for the '60s. Its closing track starts with a choir before winding down seven and a half minutes later in a congregation of percussion, organ and guitars.
7. Prince and the Revolution, "Purple Rain" (From Purple Rain, 1984)
Doubling as a soundtrack to his hit summer movie, Prince's Purple Rain is expertly sequenced from the pulpit-preaching opener "Let's Go Crazy" to the hymn-like solemnity of the nearly nine-minute title track closer. A star-making moment.
6. The Who, "Won't Get Fooled Again" (From Who's Next, 1971)
Everything about the Who's fifth album is epic, from the repeating synths that open the LP to the arena-ready closing song. "Won't Get Fooled Again" was part of Pete Townshend's Lifehouse project, but Roger Daltrey's iconic scream needs no context.
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Free Bird" (From [Pronounced 'Leh-'nerd 'Skin-'nerd], 1973)
Few songs in rock history have the instant draw of "Free Bird." The slow-building first part of the song is just a warm-up for the dueling guitar solos that make their entrance halfway through the nine-minute classic. A masterclass in how to end a debut LP.
READ MORE: 40 Songs With Titles Not in the Lyrics
4. Pink Floyd, "Eclipse" (From The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973)
The final track on Pink Floyd's masterwork resists the urge to go all in with a lengthy closing song by checking in with the just-over-two-minute "Eclipse," the summation of The Dark Side of the Moon's album-length concept. A stirring finale.
3. Led Zeppelin, "When the Levee Breaks" (From Led Zeppelin IV, 1971)
Reworked from a 1920s blues song, 'When the Levee Breaks" closes Led Zeppelin's best album on an epic scale. John Bonham's canyon-shaking drums were recorded by a pair of microphones hung from a stairwell. The rest of the band sounds just as big.
2. Bruce Springsteen, "Jungleland" (From Born to Run, 1975)
Bruce Springsteen's breakthrough album unfolds as a story of friends, lovers and exes looking for their big score. It all comes crashing down in the nine-and-a-half-minute "Jungleland," in a flurry of bullets, bodies and bruised hearts. A grand finale.
1. The Beatles, "A Day in the Life" (From Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967)
The Beatles' pop-art masterpiece trips through nostalgia as it wipes clean any signs of their past. By the conclusion of "A Day in the Life" - stitched together from two Lennon and McCartney songs - the world had changed. That final 40-second chord says it all.