It never ceases to surprise me the musical masterpieces that end up as B-sides, often lost in relative obscurity due to availability only in certain countries or through very specific deluxe editions of an album.
I bring this up because “Be Sensible” by Jimmy Eat World, a B-side from their 2008 album Chase This Light, is arguably one of the best songs in their whole catalog. As somebody who has been a fan of the band for many, many years now and has pretty much every song of theirs I’ve been able to get my hands on, I’d like to think that’s not a compliment to be taken lightly.
Despite the merits of this soft, encouraging ballad and its inspiring refusal to settle for less in its haunting, repeated insistence of “Don’t be sensible,” it has unfortunately fallen to the aforementioned fate due to only being available in Australia, Japan, the UK, and Germany. Obviously this does not apply to those living in one of those countries, and admittedly this may have been the result of a significant oversight on my part, but as someone in the US, I was unaware of its existence until about a year ago.
Once I discovered it, however, I immediately fell in love. It’s the perfect song for a late-night drive, filled with introspect and aspirations reminiscent, to me, of “23,” the epic album-closer of their 2003 release, Futures. Everyone has their own interpretations, of course, but to me the song has always read as a refusal to settle for less than you should rather than “swing with all you have.” Regardless of the meaning of it all, frontman Jim Adkins’s powerful vocals delivering each poignant line are backed by soft acoustic guitar to truly fill out this emotional ballad.
So if this song is so great, how did it wind up as a B-side? Well, in a 2007 interview, Adkins touched on the fate of “Be Sensible.” “We felt like ‘Somebody’s Blues’ and ‘Dizzy’ were the two somewhat-downer songs we wanted to have,” Adkins explained. “And for better or worse, we felt those two songs kind of accomplished the role that ‘Be Sensible’ tried to do more effectively in the context of the other songs we’ve chosen.”
He went on to explain that the decision was easier since they were aware that, thanks to the internet, sidelining the song would not hide it away entirely.
While it is unfortunate in my eyes that the song wasn’t chosen for the final album cut, I am glad that it is floating around out there nonetheless. My hopes are that anybody else who has managed to miss out on its existence, particularly any big-time fans of the band, will be made aware of it through this and give it a listen, because it deserves at least that much.