Old Songs You Just Truly Heard

I’m talking about a song, an older one probably, that you’ve heard many times, but never paid it much heed; it was “background noise” on the radio. You didn’t like it, you didn’t dislike it, it was “just there.”

And then one day, you actually * listened* to it, and went, “Oh, hey…that’s actually pretty good.”
I had a quiet moment at work the other night, and had some easy listening station playing on the radio (not my radio, so I didn’t change the station, just had it on as some background noise), and the Stevie Nicks/Don Henley song Leather and Lace came on.

It’s a low-key number, musically; not much more than a guitar, keyboard, and drums, playing dolce* to the vocals. But I really listened to it the first time just a few nights ago, and suddenly recognized it for something other than general/generic pop background noise.

So, what song, what artist, suddenly and unexpectedly grabbed your attention years, even decades after its release, its peak of popularity?

*I may not be using that term entirely correctly; I just used it to indicate that the instruments didn’t dominate the song in any way, they being more accompaniment/counterpoint to the vocals.

Fleetwood Mac (at least the world-famous late 70s and beyond edition with Buckingham and/or Nicks) always seemed like the epitome of background music to me. They were a staple on most radio stations throughout my life and I didn’t exactly hate them, but their music just seemed to me so “ignorable.” I wouldn’t rush to turn off the radio if they came on, but I never whistled along or ever WANTED to hear their music.

Then one day, for whatever reason I cannot now remember, I decided to put on a spotify playlist of their big hit albums: “Fleetwood Mac” ('75), “Rumours” and “Tusk.” I was very surprised at how much I was into them for a while after that. They are all solid rock & roll albums and a lot rawer and rougher than I imagined they’d be. (To say nothing of the earlier, British blues material I discovered on further investigating.)

Particular standout songs to me: “Gold Dust Woman”, “Monday Morning”, “The Chain”, and “Albatross” (the latter being the only song I hadn’t ever heard on the radio before I sought it out.)

The 80s albums, unfortunately, start turning into over-produced, top 40-friendly shlock and I don’t think I’d bother listening to them again. But the 60s/70s Mac really do live up to their hype and I can’t believe it took me to almost 2010 before I found that out.

I have a song that, for me, fits the OP perfectly.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s Southern Cross.

I’d heard it for years and years, never giving it much of a listen. I considered it way down on the list of their hits.

Then one day I heard it and it just grabbed me. Instrumentally and vocally perfect, and the way the lyrics paint the story is incredibly satisfying.

I’ve listened to it many, many times since that day.

I know exactly what you’re saying; a local station (KSHE 95) does a Sunday program called 7th Day, where they play entire albums, sometimes with commentary from the original artist(s).

A lot of Top 40 songs from Led Zeppelin, Bob Seeger, Rolling Stones, etc., that I’d heard hundreds, maybe even thousands of times on the radio, are now in the middle of an album of songs I’ve never heard before, from artists I’d considered “played out.”

I took it for granted that Led Zeppelin were something special, just because everyone else said so; then I hear one of their better albums in its entirety, and can now see (hear, more accurately) why they have that rep.

I know the above is actually contrary to my OP, since I was specifically talking about the “Top 40s” stuff that a person had probably heard hundreds of times before, and never gave any heed to, but it’s in that vein.

I wasn’t that crazy about Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” when it came out, but years later, I recognized the pure joy as he sings that.

Another song from around the same time that I didn't fully appreciate until years later was "Dazz" by Brick. That band was made up of some incredibly talented musicians.
Dazz later had a minor hit called "Dusic" (for "Disco Music") and in the early 1990s, suggested as a joke that they reunite and release a song called "Drunge", for "Disco Grunge".

*Mack The Knife *has to be mentioned. So catchy, so dark.

I don’t know if this counts in the context of the thread, but more than once I’ve heard “stripped-down” or “unplugged” or whatever covers of well-known songs that have really made me listen to the song rather than the band or the arrangement.

Example: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (cover), Sara Bareilles, Seattle, WA, 2013

This one is better than the original, in my opinion - but I’m biased in all sorts of weird ways.

A few months ago I heard The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald for the first time and my jaw pretty much hit the floor. My husband had been telling me I’d love it for years. He was right.

I’d say it fits the premise of the thread perfectly; whether you’ve twigged to the original, or a stripped-down cover, if it just suddenly hits you, that, “Oh, hey, that’s nice!” then it fits the thread’s premise.

It took a Jane’s Addiction cover of the Stone’s Sympathy for the Devil, to bring me to a better appreciation for the song overall, and I like the JA cover better than the Stone’s version, anyway.

Now, the JA cover of Sympathy came out in 1987, but I’d never heard it until it popped up on an episode of Sons of Anarchy in…2013? 2014? Somewhere in that time frame, anyway. But it was like it was the first time I’d truly heard the song; the Stone’s version was just more background noise on the local Rock (then Classic Rock) radio station. ETA: I’ve since re-listened to the Stone’s version, and do actually appreciate and respect it better than I had before, as well.

I never heard (heard of, but not heard) Mack the Knife until 2004 when the Bobby Darin biopic came out; I loved it instantly, and bought it off iTunes that same day.
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald has always been a fave of mine; I’ve heard it derided as maudlin treacle, but it’s a great sea-ballad, reminiscent of a bygone era. There’s a line in it that I’ve always found particularly poignant: “Does anyone know where the love of God goes, when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”

The man in me by Bob Dylan. I never gave it (or the album) a second thought until it was used in The Big Lebowski.


Lately I’ve gone on a small Electric Light Orchestra binge. “Strange Magic” and “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” really struck me as good songs that I had previously heard a lot but mostly ignored.

I always thought of “My Sharona” as some dumb pop/ new wave song, which it is. One day I paid attention to the guitar solo and was kind of blown away. It is an unexpectedly great solo.

“Rio,” by Duran Duran.


I hadn’t really listened to it since its heyday when I was a tween. Since then, I took a couple of years of piano lessons and was exposed to more types of music. It came up on some Spotify playlist – maybe my Time Capsule, I’m not sure. For the first time, I really listened to what Nick Rhodes was doing on the keyboard. The tempo was impressive enough, but there were subtle changes all over the place that never seemed out of place. I was stunned by the musicality.

It turns out he was just playing chords and his keyboard was set to “randomized arpeggio” mode. Oh well.

The Air That I Breathe

I am a fan of The Mavericks and have every CD. Lately I have been listening to he full collection over and over; so I have heard this song countless times; but never listened to the lyrics carefully (?) Until a couple of weeks ago and I thought WOW that is truly the most exquisite love song I have ever heard. So I checked to see if anyone else recorded it and to my surprise many artists have and I own the 1972 Hollies CD. Duh I will not tell you the other CDs I own that hold this song.

It would not be so back except that at 66 I was around back then and owned the Hollies album:smack:

While working, I usually listen to the Internet feed of a station that mostly plays music from the Sixties & Seventies*; sometimes they’ll play a song that I don’t remember ever hearing before. Like Elvis’ “Don’t Cry Daddy” and The Beach Boys’ “Drive-In”.

*Also Forties, Fifties, and Eighties.

Yeah, the same song for me. I somehow knew the song for a long time, but had only listened to it maybe once or twice and only remembered the chorus. Then one big local station changed their program a few years ago from German Schlager to classic rock and pop oldies, and I listened to “The Air That I Breathe” for the first time really closely. I immediately thought “Wow, that sounds like Radiohead ca.* Ok Computer*, and it’s from 1972!” The song has a very unique structure both in the verses and the chorus and is one of the musically most interesting pop songs of its time. I also learned that Albert Hammond wrote that song (and damn, he has an impressive string of great songs that became hits, both for himself and for others).

I paid nearly no attention to the news back when I was 14-15. When I first heard “The Wreck Of the Edmund Fitzgerald” I figured it was about a wreck from long ago. I also didn’t like the sound of it, I found it quite grating. Fast forward a few decades to when I learned when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank- If I had known it was recent to the song, I would have respected Lightfoot’s effort much more.

The sound of the song still irritates me, however.

Not sure 2002 counts as “old,” but a friend recently turned me on to Porcupine Tree’s album “In Absentia” and I’ve been listening to it a lot. There’s a song near the end called “Heartattack In a Layby,” but I usually listen while I’m doing something else so I don’t pay close attention to lyrics. Recently I happened to notice it playing and wondered what it was about, figuring the title was a metaphor. So I looked up the lyrics.

Nope. It’s a song about a guy who pulls off at a layby (kind of a rest area) and dies of a heart attack as he thinks about his wife waiting for him at home. Punched me hard in the gut, especially when it got to the end bit (“We’ll grow old together…”) I sat there crying like a baby as I listened to it with new understanding.

Yeah, I have one of those - Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Didn’t care much for it for the first 30+ years of my life, then suddenly I heard it on the radio while driving and thought, man this is a great song.

We were channel-flipping a few years ago and happened upon the Steely Dan Aja episode of that Classic Albums show on VH-1. Damn near every song on that album had been in regular rotation on oldies stations throughout my life, so I’d heard them countless times, but yeah … never really listened to them. I bought it the next day and regularly play it when I’m feeling groovy.