OK, so any list covering anything music will generate a ton of opinions, most of them wrong because they aren’t mine. All kidding aside, this post highlights song pairs that you rarely (if ever) hear separately. Furthermore, if you DID hear one of these songs played without the other, a not-so-subtle part of you would twitch/tremble. It’s ok…embrace your inner OCD.
Imagine hearing Song B on the list below WITHOUT hearing Song A first. There’s only one Song B that I can hear without Song A first and I think you’ll agree with that. The others? Nope, not by a longshot. If I DO hear one without the other, I will go to my phone and listen to the first song to set the universe right.
It’s not intentional, but a lot of this will go over the heads of millennials/Gen Z types. Too many of them don’t listen FM radio much and even fewer watched MTV when it actually played music. Ask a Gen Z type to program a car ‘stereo’ with push-button presets, most will provide you with a perfect visual for the word ‘baffled’.
A couple of other caveats…This is NOT a compilation of songs you made on a mix tape ‘back in the day’ and two songs by disparate artists always made it back to back. It’s not that kind of list. Nor is this list of songs on CDs you listened to and thought that two consecutive songs always had to be played together because that’s how you did it. OK…so here goes!
Queen: We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions.
I’m starting off with probably the easiest pair to put on this list. It is also the one Song B that I can listen to without hearing Song A—though if I do, it better be in celebration of winning something of importance (Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, a county soccer tournament, etc.)
I recall this pair on the radio when it was released in the late 70’s. Had no idea that We Are the Champions would become culturally woven into our collective sporting DNA at the time (ditto “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC as an intro song).
Led Zeppelin: Heartbreaker / Living, Loving Maid
If you put a gun to my head and ask why I included this pair, I’d say that it’s because they belong here. In truth, I don’t much care for the songs—they’re ok, I suppose, I’m not a big LZ fan at all. However, I’d been listening to classic rock stations for longer than I care to admit before I learned this pair was actually two songs.
WAAAYYYY too many stoned DJ’s in the late 60’s/early seventies failed to stop the half-a-heartbeat of Robert Plant that separates the two songs (like I knew any better? Nope!). So the DJ’s just stopped trying and played them together. It’s been going on for more than 50 years—this pair makes the list.
INXS: Need You Tonight / Mediate
This is a shout out to the MTV generation that watched actual music videos. I was into INXS more than a lot of my buddies at the time and I did like this album/CD. If I’m honest, New Sensation/Devil Inside could also appear here, but that’s more on me than radio/video (breaking the rules I outlined above).
If you watched the video, you can’t really forget the casual tossing of the signs during Mediate as the group poured through every word with an ‘ate’ suffix (note, it was a LOT). It was a little political without being progressive/preachy. It fit in with the album itself—and the album was one of the very best at the time. It doesn’t get enough credit.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band: Travelin’ Man / Beautiful Loser
This is one of the more unusual combinations, and I don’t see it much on other such combination lists like this one. This pair comes from the “Live Bullet” album recorded by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. It ‘was’ played on the radio as a pair, but not extensively or often. Looking back, I’m pretty sure DJs needed a longer break (toke up?) and required something to make that happen.
That said, both songs are good in their own right but are taken to another level in the live version combination. The delay between the songs is longer than anything else on this list, but it’s natural and necessary. The songs themselves just beg to be played back-to-back. This transition is one of the more elegant segues between two songs you will ever hear. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Journey: Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ / City of the Angels
Not sure why DJ’s chose to always play these songs together on the radio…the delay between them wasn’t exceptionally short (like the Led Zeppelin tandem listed above). I just remember these two songs ALWAYS played back-to-back. To this day, if I hear City of the Angels without LTS, I will pull an OCD Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory and replay Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin…THEN I will listen to City of the Angels with its proper introduction.
Van Halen: Eruption / You Really Got Me
Another ‘no-brainer’ for this list. In fact, if you read any other similar missive on this subject and you DON’T see this pairing, the author is just a tool.
Edward Van Halen was (hate using past tense) the best guitarist that ever lived. Yes, I know there is another article to write on THAT particular subject, but to me EVH was the best. Eruption was not just some mindless shredding of an ax. This was elegant but powerful, peaks and valleys, varying pace, pauses and a crescendo that leaves you agape. A slight pause leads into a cover of the Kinks Girl You Really Got Me (arguably better than the original—ANOTHER topic!).
This solo established EVH as the best guitarist of his age and (to some, like me) ever. I can hear You Really Got Me without hearing Eruption first, but I CANNOT hear Eruption without hearing Song B!
Boston: Foreplay / Longtime
Some may get on me for including this tandem because it’s now generally considered as just one song. When I first heard it/when it came out, they were two songs even though you didn’t hear one without the other. The otherworldly instrumental Foreplay just grabs you almost from the first few bars and doesn’t let go. From the first heart-stopping drum to the piano and finally superb guitar riffs, Foreplay gives you everything you could ask for. It also lasts for just about as long as most typical foreplay…about a minute.
It segues almost seamlessly from Foreplay to Longtime. In reality, if you didn’t know there were two songs associated with this, you’d never think there were. I could listen to Foreplay repeatedly and if I never heard Longtime, I doubt I’d be that bummed about it. But they both belong on this list.
So there you have it—seven timeless classic back-to-back song pairs. I’m sure I missed something you think should have been included. If so, leave me a note and we can chat about it.