Readers recommend playlist: your songs about finishing

It’s not quite the end of the world as we know it, with a playlist including Alice Cooper, Eels, Speech Debelle and the Sundays. And, as you’d hope, it rounds itself off nicely

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from your suggestions after last week’s callout. Thanks for them all. Read more about how our weekly readers recommend series works at the end of the piece.

Finishing something, bringing it to an end or conclusion, doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact it can very often be satisfying to finish a piece of work, a race, a challenge or something that has been bothering you for some time. The conclusion can bring resolution and an opportunity to move on. All told, I’m pretty chuffed to have completed my second stint as guru.

We start this playlist in our school days. Who doesn’t remember the elation of the end of term? Alice Cooper brilliantly captures that excitement at the prospect of weeks of freedom – but is he also into a bit of vandalism to go with the tricks and japes kids play on their teachers when School’s Out for Summer? For me this song brings back fond memories of one of my favourite 90s slacker movies, Dazed and Confused.

Later in life most of us go out into the world and get a job. Poor Bob Dylan has been enduring some tough treatment down on Maggie’s Farm and has decided to call it quits. Anyway, he has big ideas of his own and intends to follow his dream. Speech Debelle has also got a lot on her mind. Her list of things to get on with is long and full of angst. Atop it, though, is to stop procrastinating and Finish this Album – maybe then she’ll have the time and headspace to deal with some of the other stuff worrying her.

When the working day is done, who doesn’t love a good blow out every now and again? Corb Lund and his band clearly do, as they’ve drunk the kegs so dry they’ve decided it’s Time to Switch to Whiskey. In fact they’ve all had such a skinful, they’re either going to start a fight or have already sworn to future abstinence. John Lennon painfully shares his experience of deciding to quit his heroin habit and go Cold Turkey – in fact he feels so bad, he wishes he was dead. The last couple of minutes of this track are the tortuous sounds of someone in serious pain.

Time to slow things down now as the end of summer triggers a wistful wanderlust in Joni Mitchell who has an Urge for Going. As the season changes to autumn it evokes a need to move away, yet she never quite makes it. There is no melancholy here though as we all know summer will return. Nick Drake also ponders the cyclical nature of things and our short time here in Day is Done. His song provides a warning not to hang around if there’s stuff you want to get on with because if you “Didn’t do the things you meant to do/Now there’s no time to start a new/Now the party’s through”

No playlist about finishing would be complete without a few break up tunes, so here come my three faves from the many nominations. First up, Eels, well known for their affecting lyrics; End Times describes the feeling of utter devastation about the end of an important relationship. For singer E, the fact that she has gone heralds the end of time, there’s almost no point in continuing. Slightly more upbeat and acerbic about the end of their relationship, Miki and Jarvis (Cocker) in Lush’s Ciao! sing about their relief at having called it a day with the line “And life is wonderful, now that I’m rid of you.” Testament that the end of something need not be awful after all.

I’m not totally convinced this next one is a break up song, it seems more a philosophical reflection on unkind words contributing towards a break up. In Here’s Where the Story Ends, the Sundays lament the memories of those words and incidents with the line: “It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year, which makes me wonder why.”

As this playlist draws to a close I’m reminded of saneshane’s words: “you have to have a very special song to end the tape”.

sorry I'm late - this is an ace theme.

anyone who has been doing this since the days of C90's will know you have to have a very special song to end the tape - if the compilation was tracks about finishing - well then you have to try even harder:

"if this was our last song; what would we do"
I think would sum up the finale just about perfectly - remember to leave 4 minutes of tape for it.

CLOGS - Last Song
yes that is Matt Berninger from The National singing us out.

No pressure then! The track suggested is a lovely finisher but in this playlist it is in second-last spot. The subdued guitar and woodwind, with simple repeated lyrics sung so languidly by Matt Berninger, on ClogsLast Song can be interpreted in many ways and make it so beautiful to listen to on repeat.

2016 has been a difficult year in many respects, yet there is still much to celebrate as it draws to a close. Thank you to all of my fellow readers recommend the contributors for supporting this forum and sharing great music every week throughout ...

The problem with playlists is they have to conclude somewhere – and so to the finale. To wrap this one up Echo and the Bunnymen remind us in this positive, optimistic, soaring tune heavy with brass and strings that Nothing Lasts Forever. We shouldn’t wait for life to come to us, but go out, grab it and enjoy it while we can.

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 15 December. You have until 11pm on 19 December to submit nominations.

Here’s a reminder of some of the guidelines for RR:

  • If you have a good theme idea, or if you’d like to volunteer to compile a playlist from readers’ suggestions and write a blog about it, please email
  • There is a wealth of data on RR, including the songs that are “zedded”, at the Marconium. It also tells you the meaning of “zedded”, “donds” and other strange words used by RR regulars.
  • Many RR regulars also congregate at the ’Spill blog.


Sarah Chappell

The GuardianTramp

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