Seven Great Lost Songs

So I should obviously say here what a “lost song” is. Well, it can be many things, but it can mostly be described as this: any song that was played live a whole bunch but never made an album, or was important to a song cycle or album in demo form but never made the album, or a song that was played live maybe only a few times but people seemed to enjoy but was never heard from again.

That clear? Cool. So without any more of my nonsense, here are 7 great lost songs:

Rilo Kiley – Pull Me In Tighter

Rilo Kiley on Austin City Limits from sam on Vimeo.

Back in 2005, when Rilo Kiley was touring behind their penultimate album More Adventurous, they began playing this pop-gem nearly every night. With the sugary-sweet vocals of the foxy Jenny Lewis, doo-wop vocal harmonies, and ripping guitar, it had all the making of a straight up Rilo Kiley jam. However, when RK’s next record, Under The Blacklight was released in 2007, “Pull Me in Tighter” was nowhere to be found. And with the band officially declaring the end this year, it’s not likely we’ll ever see it in recorded form. But fear not, “Pull Me In Tighter” opens the Austin City Limits set above, and for a bonus, stick around for the last song in the video above, the also lost “Let Me Back In / I Love LA.”

Pela/We Are Augustines – Rise Ye Sunken Ships

After Pela released their debut album Anytown Graffiti, they began touring non-stop. On the endless touring stage, they began to write and play some new songs. Towards the end of that touring cycle, the band began to play the first song in the video below, “Rise Ye Sunken Ships,” which the band said would be the title track to their second record that they were working on.

But then, in 2009, the band called it quits, with the fully recorded album Rise Ye Sunken Ships on the shelf. That song, along with other promised Rise tracks “Juarez,” “Philadelphia,” and “Strange Days” seemed to be lost forever. But then, in 2010, former Pela members Billy McCarthy (guitar/vocals) and Eric Sanderson (bass) paired up again to form We Are Augustines. The first record they promised to release was the shelved Rise with a new track or two. So when the album came out in 2011, did fans finally get a recorded version of “Rise Ye Sunken Ships”? No. They didn’t. However, We Are Augustines did a bit of restructuring and re-arranging to the tune, and they still play it nightly. So will we ever get a studio version? Maybe not, but the We Are Augustines version can be seen below.

Sufjan Stevens – Majesty Snowbird

I have, on multiple occasions, called this epic by Sufjan Stevens one of the (or THE) greatest songs ever written. I still feel that way, and I have no idea how Sufjan cannot. In the long stretch of time between 2005’s Illinois and 2010’s All Delighted People EP and The Age Of Adz (plus some other, non-traditional work in-between) Sufjan Stevens undoubtedly wrote and demoed way more songs than we will here from him, so what makes “Majesty Snowbird” so special (other than just being amazing in every way)? It has been performed live both before Sufjan’s hiatus, in 2005/2006 and after in 2009. The first, sweeping and beautifully arranged:

And then a few years later, a smaller band produced a slightly funkier sound:

So will we ever see “Majesty Snowbird” in recorded form? Maybe. I for one hope we do, because knowing Sufjan, we’ll get a third, even weirder and possibly better version. As a bonus, check out another lost Suf-tune, “Lord God Bird.” Dude loves birds.

St. Vincent – Bang Bang

When playing across the country behind her debut Marry Me, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) often played this tune, taking a break from some of the full band tunes in the set. On the two albums Clark has released since, “Bang Bang” is nowhere to be found, possibly because both of those albums had very strict thematic elements, or maybe the songs obvious homage to “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” proved too much for Clark to get behind.

Bloc Party – Cells Shaped Like Stars

When (you’ll never guess) touring in the years leading up to their second album, Bloc Party played a number of songs that ended up on the album, with one catch: most of them had completely different lyrics. A Weekend In the City‘s “On” was known as “Wet” and featured some lyrics that ended up in “Song For Clay.” “I Still Remember” was called “It Started In An Afternoon” and b-side “England” was known as “Into the Blue” and then “Blue Moon.” While “Blue Moon” had some of singer Kele Okereke’s best lyrics, what I perceived as it’s sister song “Cells Shaped Like Stars” had some of his most interesting. Its chorus of “In our bodies / In our bodies there are cells shaped like stars / In our bodies there are universes…” became a fan favorite and many were looking forward to hearing it on the album. But when Weekend came out “Cells … ” was nowhere to be found. And in the ensuing weeks, when Bloc Party released 11 extra tracks as b-sides, pre-order exclusives, etc. it was still nowhere to be found. But the music side of the song remained to be heard as “We Were Lovers.” A few years after that, the demo version of “Cells Shaped Like Stars” popped up on a Bloc Party message board, so now the songs can fight in a battle to the death.
Cells Shaped Like Stars

We Were Lovers

Dead Man’s Bones – Beyond The Veil

When Ryan Gosling (yes, that one) and Zach Shields got together to form Dead Man’s Bones, they bonded over their love of skeletons, ghosts and the ilk. So when they started making a record, it only makes sense that the songs would be about that. On the tour for the album, supported by local children’s choirs, the band debuted this song, which has been called either “Beyond the Veil” or “Something Is Watching” by fans. It’s one of those songs which you can tell came together on tour, as the song is carried by the vibe of the band, feeding off of the crowd and the choir. As of yet, any second album from Dead Man’s Bones haven’t been more than rumors, and with Gosling’s film career really taking off, any future album plans will have to go through him.

Elliott Smith – Place Pigalle

Here’s the thing about Elliott Smith: he wrote a lot of songs (I believe the scientific term is a fuck-ton), and when he died, he left a lot of new, old, and abandoned recordings behind. So what makes “Place Pigalle” any more lost than any of the others? Well, for one it has still never been officially released, not being featured on the big posthumous rarities collection New Moon and it was so important at one point that Elliott considered using the song’s title as an album title. But what the song really serves as, is a painful, fully formed reminder of the elegant, beautiful, and heartbreaking music that Elliott left behind. The studio version isn’t able to be embedded, but you can hear that here.


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3 Comments on “Seven Great Lost Songs”

  1. 11.16.11 at 12:14 AM #

    and another one I remembered the second I posted this:

  2. Colin Holmes
    11.16.11 at 1:52 AM #

    Considering how eclectic my taste in music is, I’m still surprised by how much I like Dead Man’s Bones. Beyond the Veil and Name in Stone both should have been on the album.


  1. Seven Great “Lost” Songs | List Off - 11.22.11

    […] Great “Lost” Songs To follow-up on my post from last week, when I wrote about lost songs that should be rediscovered, I decided this week to post about […]

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