When I dress to go out, I usually end up taking off the leather cuffs I have put on … or the vest, or the belt, or the hat.
This sort of thing occurred to me when I was making up a song last week. I kept thinking it needed fewer words, fewer notes, fewer instruments, less overdubs. It sounded better when I took things off and cut things out.
So my latest tune clocks in at a brief, unadorned minute and 22 seconds.
For me, one of the great things about a song is its poverty. I love the quote about the sculptor who, when asked how she made such beautiful objects, responded that she simply removed everything from the raw material that wasn’t the object itself.
Most of my songs are compact and close. Brief as snapshots. Barely there. Each tune gets its moment, and then it’s quickly over without lingering in a specific melody or set of chords for too long.
The perfect piece for me works within an inch of its life.
Have you wondered why most of the popular songs are about the same length? There aren’t any super short or many really long songs on your dial.
Is it the result of an engineering limitation of the phonograph? The artist’s desire to hit the mainstream? A record label’s desire to profit from that? Or maybe the human brain only likes 3-minute songs? I just don’t know.
I’m sure about one thing:
The only reason to make one up is to resonate in some corner of the heart. Only an artist and his fans can say how many minutes it takes to find a door into a feeling.