Music History

Here’s the one thing I miss most about CDs

The first time I ran into a hidden track on a CD was with an early edition of Nirvana’s Nevermind. I was in the car and after the last strains of “Something in the Way” faded out, I forgot about the disc in the player. About ten minutes later, I nearly had a heart attack when more music suddenly started blaring. It was “Endless, Nameless,” a hidden freak-out that appeared on certain editions of Nevermind.

From then on, I became besotted with the idea of unlisted songs lurking somewhere on a CD. A lot of artists jumped on this bandwagon, eventually resulting in this Wikipedia entry on hidden tracks and where to find them.

Here’s a look back on those secret tracks from

Just as audiences now linger in cinemas waiting for a surprise outtake after the credits roll, in the 90s music fans would let their CDs play to completion, vigilantly scanning for hidden tracks or interludes to reward their patience.

No matter the medium, artists have always found a way to rebel against the confines of commercial music packaging. The trend famously started with The Beatles. A brief acoustic piece by Paul McCartney didn’t fit on Abbey Road and he ordered engineer Geoff Emerick to cut it. But Emerick had other ideas and he tacked it onto the end of the album after a few seconds of silence. The first “hidden track” was born.

The trend would continue throughout the decades, from The Clash’s ‘Train in Vain’, from their 1979 album, London Calling, to Pink Floyd and Slayer using audio reversal or “backmasking” to play secret messages. But it was really in the 90s when the trend took off, thanks to the technological loopholes that CDs created. Some bands used hidden tracks to include songs that didn’t quite fit on an album, while others used them to toy with listeners and their labels alike.

Regardless of their motivation, here are a few notable examples of hidden tracks that are worth breaking out your Discman for.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37907 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Here’s the one thing I miss most about CDs

  • My favourite ones have to be the two hidden tracks on the X-Files inspired “Songs In The Key of X.”

  • The first CD I ever bought back in the 90s had a hidden track I didn’t even know existed until my sister’s friend alerted me to it years later. An album called Extra*Ordinary, the debut release 1995 by a Christian alternative band called Johnny Q. Public, had a hidden track only accessible by reversing Track 1 to before the start of the song. That’s right. If you popped it in your player and hit ‘play,’ the album would play like any other CD. But if you held down the ‘back’ button and essentially rewinded past the start of that first track, you discovered it went into negative time for about two minutes and contained a hidden track called ‘Father Abraham,’ a silly version of an old Sunday school song.

  • I discovered a hidden track much the same way that Alan did, on Jan Arden’s “Living Under June.” I was in the kitchen getting supper started, and had the CD on, and it finished, and then after a few minutes a lovely cover version of “To Sir With Love” began playing.

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