With the release of Blackstar and the death of David Bowie shortly thereafter I found myself doing some research into the title track of Bowie’s 25th and final studio album. It was through this research that I came across and interesting fact.
The length of the song originally was over 11 minutes however David Bowie & Tony Visconti learnt that iTunes do not post singles over 10 minutes in length. This lead two men to shorten the track down to it’s final length of 9 minutes and 57 seconds. When I discovered this piece of information it made me ponder the question are long songs a dying art form into todays world.
Longer songs are nothing new to the world of popular music or to the airwaves of our radios. The catalogue of music over the past 40 years are littered with examples of longer songs. Here are some examples…
The full version of Don McLean’s American Pie is 8 minutes and 33 seconds, Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven comes in at 8 minutes and 3 seconds, Money by Pink Floyd is 6 minutes and 22 seconds and finally Queen Bohemian Rhapsody is 5 minutes. Most of those have been played extensively in lifetimes and are timeless classics of music.
By contrast through my research I have compiled the following facts about albums released in 2015. The longest track of Meghan Trainor album Title is Like I’m Gonna Lose You which runs for 3 minutes and 45 minutes. Mark Ronson’s 4th album Uptown Special has general longer tracks than Meghan Trainor’s album with the 6th track being the longest Daffodils at 4 minutes and 58 seconds. Finally perhaps the biggest album release of the year 25 by Adele comes closest to the epic long tracks of old with I miss you coming in at 5 minutes and 49 seconds.
I think perhaps our quick fast paced life is a contributing factor to the change in the length songs and the way we consume them. With our lives becoming so hectic and busy everything is grabbing at our attention. As an example of which we can now get a customisable news feed on our tablet devices. It appears that we are wanting things quick convenient and easy to digest which is reflected in our consumption of music and therefor how music is made.
I believe there is still a place for longer tracks on modern albums to add to the diversity of the releases. Hopefully generations to come can enjoy sitting down to listen to an epic track which runs for a good length and can take the listener on a journey of a lifetime.
Finally before I finish I thought I would add that I quite enjoyed Blackstar by David Bowie. It is an elegant tapestry of music which infuses several genres and is made by a man who was a musical genius who was taken from this world before his time.