Our world desperately needs a change from the daily drone of media reported bickering. We need to find new common ground and restart the dialogue. Multiple groups are fighting about numerous topics from under-informed and misunderstood and often flawed positions. We need to stop pushing one-sided agendas and seek to understand; embrace our similarities over our differences, and begin building, rather than tearing down. That’s why I am turning to vinyl!
The phrase B-side has become synonymous with second best. However, mistaking, “B” as a grade rather than a sequence is not entirely inaccurate. Fortunately, the B-Side has often failed on its execution. Over time, revealing itself as indisputable A-Sides with lasting significance. B-sides, are often embraced by groups looking for something outside of normal; something different. An alternative. In the immortal lyrics of Blue Oyster Cult’s, “Burnin; for you,” “It’s time to Play B-Sides!”
When you share your voice, you are taking a risk.
You don’t always know if it will resonate. You put yourself up for inspection, and then wait. If you wander too far from what’s familiar, you risk criticism and rejection. However, you may also create a revolution, or at the very least change the narrative, because you were willing to stray.
Many of us fear rejection, over the potential benefits of touching and inspiring others through our efforts. We’re concerned we will not produce what people want to touch, read, hear, see or taste; so, we hold back. Robbing ourselves, and the world of possibly contributing something beautiful and new.
The History of the B-Side
Before I continue, it is only fair to share some history. In a world of digital music, younger readers, my own kids for example, may be wondering, “What’s a B-side?” Let me grab my spectacles, candy cigarette and smoking jacket as I take you on a brief journey.
Long before the video was accused of killing the radio star, and digital music was accused of killing the album format, we had seven inch pieces of plastic called 45’s. To listen to it, on a turntable, you needed to insert a small piece of plastic into its 1.5-inch center hole; imagine a yellow, less sophisticated, fidget spinner.
It was a way for record companies to distribute a single song from an album that they hoped would be a hit; the A-Side. These records were cheaper and easier to get to market. On the back of these records were B-sides, “a throw away song.” Making, “single” an inaccurate term, as your purchase always included two songs.
B-sides were songs the artist recorded, but then determined were not good enough to go out on their own. So, they “hid” them on the back of 45’s. The Urban Dictionary describes B-sides as “songs that “have often gotten a reputation of being filler and sub-par, even though a good majority of the time B-sides are better than a lot of the album tracks, and in some cases, better than the A-side.” But, B-sides can be sly. Sometimes they sneak up and demand attention. Sometimes they become cult classic. Other times, they become full blow hits of their own.
There are countless examples of B-Sides scratching their way into the minds and ears of listeners. The Rolling Stones, “You Can’ Always Get What You Want.” It was released on the back side of, “Honky-Tonk Woman.” Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” covered by every band that has mastered the simple 3 chords to “Louie, Louie” was the B-side to “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” In 1966, the Beach Boys put, “God Only Knows” behind “Wouldn’t it be Nice.” It went on to become Mojo Magazine’s 13th-greatest song of all time.
Perhaps U2, was inspired by a famous Kiss B-side, when they placed, “The Sweetest Thing,” on the back of their colossal hit single, “Where the Streets Have No Names.” Years later, the band, would re-record and re-release it as its own single, where it went to Number-1 in Ireland and Canada. It was an apology song, from Bono, to his wife for missing her birthday. His excuse? He and the boys were playin’ late, in the studio. Sound familiar?
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Kiss’ Peter Criss, in a studio, in 1976, with only a piano a producer and a string section. He dug up a song from his pre-Kiss days, called “Beck.” Ironically, a song about being out with the band. Ironic, because he was all alone. After a few tweaks, he completed the original, “I’ll be out late recording apology song, “Beth.” The rest of the band is rumored to have hated it, feeling it violated their hard rock sound. They tried to hide it, as the B-side to the single “Detroit Rock City.”
When people started turning the single over, “Beth” exploded onto the radio.
Finally, rockers had an excuse to slow dance at prom, and I had a wedding song to dance to with my future wife. Yep, I married a Beth! It went on to be band’s highest ever charting single, and is often credited for sky-rocketing their album Destroyer, to platinum status; their full-length album that included both songs.
On a personal note, I recently wrote a piece, that I was hesitant to put out. Fortunately, it was released, before I could retract it. It went on to be one of my more popular pieces; reaching Number 2 as a publisher’s choice at the Good Men Project. I am not sure why it received such a response. Then it occurred to me, it is not for me to understand. My job, is to conquer my fears and share. What happens next, and how people experience it, is out of my hands.
We do not need to fear that what we create in the shadows may not be welcomed in the light. A stumble and a scrape here and there, could be just the spark to make everything brighter. We will make mistakes. We will fall down. But, we must have the strength to recognize, a bruised ego is nothing compared to the regret of not trying.
Admitting we are wrong and learning to trust takes more strength than fighting. Today’s B-Sides will inevitably become the baseline for tomorrow’s A-Sides, but, the needle will get pushed forward. No matter, what we do, when we offer something, that previously did not exist, we literally change the world!
Go out . . . Do your best . . . Do not be afraid of failure . . . The world needs more B-Sides!
Photo Credit: Getty Images