Two Minutes and 42 Seconds

Hey, Mr. Musician, don’t waste our time! The scientific reasult is: 2.42!

Just look at what clocks in between two and a half and three minutes: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “We Got the Beat,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Paranoid,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Debaser,” “God Only Knows,” and “Fall on Me.” These are not only stone-cold classics but they also encapsulate all that is great about the band without wasting your goddamn time.

I started wondering, does FZ have a song this long (I mean short)… Oh yes! Sofa #2!

Author: Balint


46 thoughts on “Two Minutes and 42 Seconds”

  1. I know a guy who once wrote an email to Joe Travers on this very subject. Joe promptly returned a polite reply with his opinion the album version of “Crazy On You”, running 4:56, is TOO FUCKING LONG!!!

  2. Certainly, FZ composed a lot of songs that came in under three minutes, for instance:

    Excentrifugal Forz 1:33
    Twenty Small Cigars 2:18
    Jelly Roll Gum Drop 2:24
    Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus 2:57
    Handsome Cabin Boy 1:21
    Rubber Shirt 2:43
    Spider of Destiny 2:33
    Uncle Meat 1:55
    Get A Little 2:31
    Junier Mintz Boogie (45 Version) 2:50

    But to suggest that any composition that goes beyond this three minute threshold “is where bloat starts to set in” as Joshua Allan does is pure, unadulterated, bunk, hooey, crap, whatever. That listeners such as Joshua Allan and Joe Travers find music tracks to be “TOO FUCKING LONG!!!” (if that is indeed, Traver’s opinion) is more of a revelation of their limited attention spans than a criticism of the music itself.

    Some of my favourite tracks by FZ and other musicians are anywhere from six minutes to half an hour in length.

    Can anyone imagine “The Purple Lagoon/Approximate” trimmed down to under three minutes? Begin by cutting out Micheal Brecker’s tenor Saxophone solo, okay, Joe?

  3. Other short gems that I little to percolate out of the cube include:

    Aybe Sea 2:46
    Naval Aviation in Art? 2:42
    Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? 2:39
    Uncle Remus 2:44
    Latex Solar Beef 2:38
    Lonesome Electric Turkey 2:33
    Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula 2:12
    Dog Breath Variations 2:07
    Nasal Rentetive Calliope Music 2:03
    Dirty Love 2:59
    Status Back Baby 2:54

  4. If Joe Travers had any concept of “too fucking long”, the “Roxy” video would be burning a hole in my DVD player right now!

    Most bands climax before the 3 minute mark on any given song, but there are some who can go “the distance”. Zappa was one of these guys. I guess that’s why the “widow” is such a bitch. It’s tough losing a stud!

    Don’t forget “Pygmy Twylyte” coming in at 2:14!

  5. There aren’t any instrumental songs on that first list. While there are a quite a few FZ songs which are less than 3 minutes, very few of them could infiltrate the pop/rock radiowaves without raising the alarms. “HALT!!! THIS IS A RESTRICTED AREA – BALLADS AND MINOR PENTATONIC ROCK ONLY!”

    I’m fond of the shorter instrumentals from the early 80s; Moggio, Tink Walks Anrok. When the early 80’s turned over into the mid 80’s these shorter instrumentals become synclavier pieces (see Mothers Of Prevention and Jazz From Hell). I think some of Franks catchiest melodies are found in the short pieces.

    The Baby Snakes version of Black Page is under 3 minutes – but I don’t think it counts as a catchy melody.

  6. Pop ( = popular ) music – from its commercial age onwards, i e the 50ties- was about hits. Sounds that hit your mind all of a sudden. A very difficult exercise for musicians as it was about compressing a lot of idaea within the limit of max 3 minutes. Result: truly great art ( just lisyen for instance to ” We’re all alone” B. Scaggs # 10 on Silk Degrees).
    Pop developed further. Some artist were very succesful when tey decided to foresee more than 5 minutes for a ” song”. For instance Michael Jackson’s Thriller , a Quincy Jones production, it lasts more than 5 minutes. The same goes for soul. Let’s take the example of Motown. In the beginning masterpiece after masterpiece, ( less than 3 minutes). Later: longer scores.

    It doesn’t matter how long a score is. What counts is its musical value.

    You know how I work. Let’s take A. Schoenberg. You can endlessly listen to Transfigured Night. It takes 27′ 33. As beautiful is his Chistmas music, it takes 2 minutes.

  7. By the way: Imagine a Zappa single (A/B side) like Excentrifugal Forz/Apostrophe(´). Now how´s about that ? 😉

  8. Do I happen to be boring reiterating a reference to a good book on that subject?
    It’s ” From 78’s to MP”‘s , The Embedded Impact of Technology in the Market for Prerecorded Music” written by Timothy Dowd.

    The economy & new technology are both imposing the formats.

  9. Another boring remark.

    FZ & P. Boulez. The fist died, the other one is still alive & kicking.,,2276332,00.html

    ” Composer and conductor Pierre Boulez has endured poisonous rows on the new music scene and vilification in the press, yet he insists that disagreement is helpful.”

    Yes indeed.

  10. Dear Urban, I meant to say : don’t rely on nostalgia when you’re 44.

    Just keep thinking further.

    Boulez is now 83 yeras old.

  11. [quote comment=”728″]There aren’t any instrumental songs on that first list. [/quote]

    Exactly which list are you referring to, Benedict?

    Twenty Small Cigars 2:18 (Instrumental)
    Cletus Awreetus-Awrightus 2:57 (Instrumental)
    Handsome Cabin Boy 1:21 (Instrumental)
    Rubber Shirt 2:43 (Instrumental)
    Spider of Destiny 2:33 Original Sleep Dirt release (Instrumental)
    Uncle Meat 1:55 (Instrumental)
    Junier Mintz Boogie (45 Version) 2:50 (Instrumental)

    Seems to me there are plenty (7 of 10) of instrumentals. But that’s really besides the point, isn’t it?

    If one thinks about FZ’s albums, was he ever one to censor his songs’ length arbitrarily?

    The Grand Wazoo 13:20 (Instrumental)
    Black Napkins (The Deathless Horsie) 16:12 (Instrumental)
    The Gumbo Variations 16:57 (Instrumental)
    Farther O’Blivion 16:01 (Instrumental)
    While You Were Art II 7:18 (Instrumental synclavier piece)
    Rdnzl 8:15 (Instrumental)
    The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution 8:33 (Instrumental)

    It’s really a sad thought to think we’ve reached a generation that cannot appreciate any musical composition unless it is served up to them in tiny three minute morsels.

  12. Yes.
    A sad story. Even on public radio stations ( both US/ Canada/ EU )music & interviews seem to be limited to the sound bite of 3 minutes. And more important they should end up in a funny way ( the joke at the end). “Hahaha”.

    That’s why truly good music is now programmed on the holistic classical radio stations. You just have to swallow the ” bore”.
    Again : you don’t believe your own ears.

  13. Like my Daddy (RIP) used to say, “It’s not the length of the SOFA that matters, it’s what you do with it”…

  14. I can only think of one ‘pop’ song that I can enjoy, even when I listen to the 10 min. version of it: “Uncertain Smile” by The The!

  15. Summarizing.
    Sofa is very lucky. He had a daddy who happened to be the opposite of an inward looking man.

  16. Urban et all just read the Boulez interview in the Guardian , I couldn’t agree more:

    ” Little has changed in the music world since he started out, in that “20% are very interested in new things, 50% can be persuaded and 30% are in their coffins before their time. It is not a matter of good times or bad times. “

  17. [quote comment=”724″](what is this “too long” story with Joe Travers?)[/quote]

    [b]Anything over a mouthful is wasted![/b]

  18. Hmm, they could be on to something, look at Captain Beefheart’s oeveur, he rarely hits over 4mins, brilliant work, absolutely brilliant…

  19. Roland, denken wir uns einen Augenblick in das Glück, neben dem Musikant einherzugehen, auf einem Spaziergang sein Begleiter zu sein.

  20. Roland und bernard, Sie zwei sind wie ein Paar der jungen Mädchen in der mittleren Schule, die Anmerkungen unter den Schreibtisch führt, wenn der Schoolmaster nicht schaut. Wie süß.

  21. It’s exactly the opposite, Urb.. Worong again ( laughter) .

    We refuse to accept the authority of a schoolmaster.

  22. [quote comment=”756″]It’s exactly the opposite, Urb.. Worong again ( laughter) .

    We refuse to accept the authority of a schoolmaster.[/quote]
    [quote comment=”756″]It’s exactly the opposite, Urb.. Worong again ( laughter) .

    We refuse to accept the authority of a schoolmaster.[/quote]

    Not everybody is bilingual, bernard, or has quick access to a translator (as I do), so you can certainly understand how easily preconceptions can be made (especially where language is involved).

    [quote comment=”757″]By the way this is exactly why I like this blog that much.

    Related to the subject: it might be short or long.

    So, Urb, any new misic coming from Canada? BesideToronto Wind Orchestra,

    I am presently waiting delivery of a couple of CDs that I ordered from the anti-diva herself, Carole Pope, former lead singer of the Canadian group, Rough Trade: 1) Avoid Freud – Rough Trade’s debut album now on CD and; 2) Carole Pope’s most recent solo album, Transcend (2007). Will write a post when they arrive.

  23. Yep bernard, I always questioned authorities. It´s not a result of a Highschool diploma, but certainly a bit of listening to Zappa´s music. But urbangraffito´s german remark is so sweet. Danke schön! And having a walk with the musician is always a nice thing to have. Apart from military bands, of course.

    I do like short songs, to be honest. Bringing the music and the lyrics to the point is a real art. Pop songs from the 50s and 60s are like this. And listen to one of my favourite bands of all time: The Beatles. In the beginning their songs often didn´t even reach or were around the 2 min mark.

    Oh, komm doch,
    Komm zu mir,
    Du nimmst mir den Verstand.
    Oh, komm doch,
    Komm zu mir,
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    Oh, du bist so schön,
    Schön wie ein Diamant,
    Ich will mit dir gehen,
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    Komm gib mir deine Hand.
    In deinen Armen bin ich glücklich und froh;
    Das war noch nie bei einer andern
    Einmal so.
    Einmal so.
    Einmal so.
    Oh, komm doch, . . .
    In deinen Armen bin ich glücklich und froh; . . .
    Oh, du bist so schön, . . .

    This lyric quote is for Sharleena, bernard, Barry & Urban – but first of all for Sharleena! 🙂

  24. Ok, Urb. Great.

    By the way I might have said : ‘The first thing our beloved Urb is thinking about is… girls at High School”. I didn’ t do that. I knew better.

    This is why Jacques Rogge ( a Belgian) who happens to be the chair of the Olympic Committee just contacted Barry. KUR will get the ultimate recognition.
    Everybody knows that this is unjustified. KUR just happens to be a lazy guy.

    Where are you, Barr?

  25. Roland, old boy. It seems as if it happens to be true that all men are made of …boys.

    Did you get in touch with Sharl before making this statement pubic? I hope so ( mostly for Sharl).

    Der richtlige Spaziergänger ist wie ein Leser, der ein Buch nur zu seinem Zeitvertrieb und Gennügen liest. ( Franz Hessel).

  26. I don’t have to think fondly about girls in high school now, bernard. I got into trouble with them while I was there: getting caught smoking with the girls in their locker room (it was a Catholic school after all) listening to Uncle Meat on my Sony Walkman. Now, I date women (not girls). If you truly understand the philosophy behind much of FZ, bernard, it has a lot to do with being your own person; and allowing the other fellow the freedom to do whatever thrills him or her. The last thing I ever heard FZ do was criticize people for their thoughts and ideas (only when their thoughts and ideas infringed upon his own). Get it, huh? Erhalten Sie es, huh?

  27. What? No I didn´t get “in touch” with Sharleena first, bernard. But if Barry´s watching TV with her, it´s a pity for me. Argentinian girls mostly have dark hair. I adore dark hair on females. But – pah – she´s there und Du bist mein Sofa! Aber beklecker´ nicht das Sofa! By the way: “Barry´s” an Irish tea brand. 😉

  28. [quote comment=”773″]one word…asshole fans.[/quote]

    Speak up, Joe ntj. Elaborate. Okay, Joe?

  29. [quote comment=”774″]Speak up, Joe ntj. Elaborate. Be the rain![/quote]

    That’s right! You got it…BE THE RAIN!!!

  30. [quote comment=”775″][quote comment=”774″]Speak up, Joe ntj. Elaborate. Be the rain![/quote]

    That’s right! You got it…BE THE RAIN!!![/quote]

    That’s right, Joe! Got them HILLBILLY BLUES!

  31. Okay guys, but the point now is not to be “long” or “short”, but to be EXACTLY 2:42! 🙂 Hm? Any competitors?

  32. Balint, the way I think about this:
    Short scores are the mirror image of the current culture of zapping ( for instance : switching from one TV station to another). That’s also the case in contemporary classical music.
    There’s that much choice that as a composer you haven to shorten what you present. It seems as there is a new future for the Bagatelle as a genre on its own.
    And 2.42 might be the ideal lenght of attentive listening to one score these days.

  33. In and of itself, 2:42 means nothing. It’s a timeframe, no more no less. From a musical point of view, within that given timeframe one can create a “pop classic”, a mesmerizing piece of “contemporary music” — or a steaming pile of aural shit.

    Conversely: outside of that timeframe, one can create a “pop classic”, a mesmerizing piece of “contemporary music” — or a steaming pile of aural shit.

    Time may be money — but money is not music…

  34. John Cage was close to the ultimate hit, by the way: in ‘4:33’ he uses 2 numbers as well, one repeated twice, but in different order, and – what a pity! – he uses “3” instead of “2”… 🙂 But number “4” is okay!

  35. Don’t laugh, Balint.
    You know how extreme Cage was. 4.33 is nothing but silence, during 4.33.
    He keeps surviving.
    Just over here in Belgium: the Cage Happening in Feb in Bruges, an entirel day& in all rooms of the Concert Hall at once). Completely sold out.
    Next is Antwerp, De Singel, in May. Have a look:
    Upcoming Cage concerts: there’s a Dutch site where everything is kept up to date.

  36. Urban I truly like to include Canada into the world of civilised nations. Yes, for sure I do.
    J. Cage.
    FZ related. Just have a look at his you tube broadcasted Yellow Shark press conference in Germany.
    FZ complained: ” The entire room for manoeuvre of new music is now filled by J. Cage”.
    That happened to be true as far as you were thinking within the US limits.
    Meanwhile in , yes, Canada:

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