You’re listening to a good tune, enjoying it as you go through the verse-verse-chorus-solo sections, and at a certain point as the chorus circles around again, you feel the coda forming, the familiar parts of a song wrapping up, and sadly you know it’s about to end. And then – euphoria! – it re-starts. Even though you’ve just heard it for 3 or 4 minutes, the fact that the song unexpectedly resumes for one more reprise, even just another few seconds, is like instant adrenaline – a B-12 shot for the ears – and a musical phenomenon I like to call a “fake ending.”
Bob Seger’s landmark 1976 album Night Moves, probably one of the first five records I ever owned, contained many seminal classic rock hits – ‘Rock And Roll Never Forgets’, ‘Mainstreet’, and of course the title track, ‘Night Moves’ – but one of my favorite moments occurs late into the less celebrated cut featured here, ‘The Fire Down Below,’ when Seger lets out a final, throat-ripping scream and the venerable Silver Bullet Band wraps this heavy duty rocker up at the 4-minute mark…only to have the pride of Detroit immediately count off “1..2..3” and boom! – the sudden bliss of bonus music.
There are ample examples of the great fake ending tactic; we’ll highlight three more: The Traveling Wilburys pulled off a particularly deceptive one on 1988’s ‘Heading For The Light.’ Far rarer, the exceptional double fake ending, as skillfully employed on Matthew Sweet’s 1995 chestnut ‘Sick Of Myself.’ And, the extreme, my unofficial champion – but I challenge anyone to top it – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers on a 1977 live version of ‘Ice Cream Man’ where the inimitable Jonathan drops an unfathomable seven, count ‘em, seven glorious fake endings. That’s like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, a record never to be broken.
(for fake ending jump to 2:40)
(for 2 fake endings jump to 2:55)
(for 7 fake endings jump to 2:50)