A truly great song is great from start to finish, but it’s especially noted — and far better remembered — if the ending is different or unique.
In that regard, some recordings simply fade out at the end, but others feature particularly good conclusions. How many true oldies fans don’t recall the tail end of songs such as “There’s A Moon Out Tonight” or “Since I Don’t Have You” or the memorable codas (end pieces) that conclude “Layla” and “Hey Jude”?
In addition to “Hey Jude”, The Beatles concluded a number of other songs with noteworthy codas, including the endings to “A Day In The Life” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
Let’s take a look at some of the best endings to great oldies pop music recordings. To hear any of the songs, just click on the title — and, of course, pay special attention to the windup.
In compiling a list of songs with notable endings, it should be pointed out that far more emphasis is placed on musical structure as opposed to lyrics. For that reason, songs telling a story with surprise, sad or dramatic conclusions are not included — songs such as “Running Bear”, “Laurie (Strange Things Happen)” or “Leader Of The Pack.”
- “HEY JUDE” (The Beatles, 1968): This chart-topper — for nine weeks, no less — featured a four-minute-long coda, with The Fab Four and the rest of the backup band repeating the phrase “Na-na-na na” followed by the words “Hey Jude” until the song gradually fades out.
- “ALL OUT OF LOVE” (Air Supply, 1980): This one concludes with Russell Hitchcock holding what is generally considered the longest note by a singer in music history. The song climbed to the No. 2 position for four consecutive weeks on Billboard for the Aussie duo of Hitchcock and Graham Russell.
- “A DAY IN THE LIFE” (The Beatles, 1967): The song — which is the final track on the “Sgt. Pepper” album — ends with one of the most-famous final chords in history. That chord lasted more than 40 seconds and was made to increase the sound level as the vibration faded out.
- “WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” (Don and Juan, 1962): This one ascended to the No. 7 position on the Billboard pop charts for the New York City duo of Don (Roland Thone) and Juan (Claude Johnson, who also wrote the song). And if you remember this record, you certainly recall the ending.
- “BEEP BEEP” (The Playmates, 1958): This song, which went to No. 4 on Billboard for the trio formed at the University of Connecticut, is a slow-to-rapid tempo-changing novelty record, and the finish reflects the frenetic pace of two automobiles speeding down a highway.
- “THERE’S A MOON OUT TONIGHT” (The Capris, 1961): This record, by a quintet from The Queens, N.Y., has one of the most memorable endings in pop music history. It concludes with what is called a “voice overlay” (with each member singing the tune’s title in turn, slowing it down a bit each time). The song flopped when first recorded in 1958, but it became a No. 3 national charter three years later.
- “SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU” (The Skyliners, 1958): This recording, which climbed to No. 12 on Billboard, was sung by a Pittsburgh doo-wop group featuring lead singer Jimmy Beaumont. The song ends with a memorable back-and-forth between Beaumont and Janet Vogel.
- “GOODBYE TO LOVE” (The Carpenters, 1972): The concluding guitar solo by Tony Peluso has to be one of the best in recording history. The supplementing guitar “growl” provides a great and effective 40-second ending to a record that was a No. 7 Billboard charter for the brother-sister duo from New Haven, Conn.
- “BLUE MOON” (The Marcels, 1961): Is there an oldies music fan who doesn’t recall the classic ending to this recording — or the entire song, for that matter? The tune was a Rodgers and Hart composition in 1934, and the “bomp-ba-bomps” and “dip-da-dips” were incorporated into the song by the Pittsburgh doo-wop group.
- “LAYLA” (Derek & the Dominos, 1972): The memorable “ending” — featuring a piano coda by Jim Gordon — lasts for about the final four minutes of the record, the long version of which spans 7:10. The rocking start features the great guitar work of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, and the record was a re-release of a shorter version that was a minor hit in 1971.
- “STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER” (The Beatles, 1967): This song reached No. 8 on Billboard as the flip of the No. “Penny Lane.” After three verses and four choruses, there is a psychedelic-type finish that featured the title repeated three times and a “weird” mix of guitar, cello, cymbals, drums and swarmandal (an Indian harplike zither).
- “BLACK WATER” (The Doobie Brothers, 1975): Most oldies fans will recall this song’s conclusion featuring the words “I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mama, come and take me by the hand.” Whereas this record went to No. 1 nationally, it was actually the flip side of a No. 32 charter (“Another Park, Another Sunday”) by the San Jose, Calif., group the previous year.
- “TEQUILA” (The Champs, 1958): The lyrics of this well-remembered tune by a group of Los Angeles studio musicians consists of one word, and this recording — which topped the Billboard charts for five weeks — ended with the full group shouting the song’s title.
- “A YOUNG GIRL” (Noel Harrison, 1965): The English Olympic athlete, actor, singer and son of British actor Rex Harrison, performed an effective rendition of this Charles Aznavour composition. The lyrics of the recording, which reached No. 51 on Billboard, build to the final and dramatic one-word conclusion.
- “HIT THE ROAD JACK” (Ray Charles, 1961): The blind recording artist took this song to the No. 1 position, and the unique conclusion is highlighted by an effective series of “ad lib” phrases.