Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Random 2m42s: The cactus plants are tough on pants Edition.

Tim Jarrett has thrown down the gauntlet.

OK, I'll play.

Here's the scoop. Joshua Allen says the perfect pop song is two minutes and forty-two seconds long. The gist of the argument is "get in and get out." In our busy world, we don't have much time for recreation, and any second that a song is too long is a second wasted. But, alack, a song can be too short, too. So, he concludes, as much by example as by mathematics, 2:42 is the magic number.

I have a few questions, I must confess. For instance, Devo's "Whip It" sadly it lacks a second. But friends, can you honestly tell me that it is lacking anything else? And Aretha's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" is, apparently, too long, as it lasts 2:43. But parentheses aside, what would you take away?

But I digress. The laws have been decreed, and I will go sit down.

Some people have already jumped on the mixtape bandwagon, starting, of course, with Allen himself. But there is more work to be done. So Tim asks, "Can you top his mix?"

In the spirit of the long-overdue Friday Random 10, and acknowledging that coming up with a decent-length mix of short songs requires quite a few of them, here is my mix(1):

1. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash (2)
2. "Contrary Mary" by Lightnin' Hopkins
3. "Baby Please Don't Go" by Van Morrison
4. "Leah" by Roy Orbison
5. "Forever Blue" by Chris Isaak
6. "Deep in the Heart of Texas" by Gene Autry
7. "Do What You Wanna" by Ramsey Lewis
8. "Christ for President" by Billy Bragg & Wilco
9. "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding
10. "Homeward Bound" by Simon & Garfunkel (live version)
11. "Do What" by Squirrel Nut Zippers
12. "Hold That Tiger" by Louis Armstrong (3)
13. "St. Louis Blues" by Django Reinhardt
14. "Gling Gló" by Björk Guðmundsdótti and Trió Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
15. "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" by Nick Lowe (4)
16. "Tarantella Napoletana" by ????????
17. "Michelle" by The Beatles
18. "Saint Agnes and the Burning Train" by Sting
19. "That Teenage Feeling" by Neko Case
20. "Sheila Take a Bow" by The Smiths
21. "Delicius Demon" by The Sugarcubes (5)
22. "Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite" by The Spaniels

Note (1): Because figuring out how much extra space recordings have at the end of a song is also, as Allen would say, a goddamn waste of time, I am relying on my MediaSource jukebox's read of the song length. This means that technically my mix is at least as efficient as Allen's.

Note (2): I'm referring to the version of "Folsom Prison Blues" from the concert album recorded at Folsom Prison and San Quentin. Even with the prisoners cheering after he says "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die," it comes in 10 seconds shorter than the studio version. What does this tell us about the value of time in prison?

Note (3): Could someone who teaches where I do really leave off "Hold That Tiger"?

Note (4): I am sorry I do not know who is performing the recording of "Tarantella Napoletana," but how could I resist it after the Nick Lowe song?

Note (5): Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me for including a Björk song and a Sugarcubes song!

I'm burning my CD copy now. If you want one, lemme know.


Magpie said...

I love this. I can't wait to go home and sort iTunes by song length!

tjarrett said...

Count me in for a CD copy. I will, of course, reciprocate.