Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anthems for the Antsy: Fifteen Songs Under One Minute Long

Hello, so nice to be back after a brief hiatus. Well, perhaps not brief -- a few year hiatus, actually. Be that as it may, I have finally found some time to post an article or three in the intervening space between writing books, talking to publishers (an exercise in humility I despise), grudgingly maintaining a foothold on the corporate ladder, and acting as taxi and delivery service for my family.

And it is all about time, or lack thereof, in our post-modern, attention-deficited, instantly gratified, existentially bored society, isn't it? Heaven forbid we have time to listen to an album when it is so labor intensive to tax one's aural capacity with 45 minutes worth of music. So, in honor of everyone's complete and utter lack of patience, I've decided to offer Anthems for the Antsy: compelling songs clocking in at one minute or less so as not to take away precious moments from your Facebook or Instagram pages.

The only qualifiers I offer for these minute minuets is that they have what amounts to a complete songs structure - a start, middle and ending - are not spoken word poems, actual instrumentation is used, and the piece is not merely an adjunct or intro for a longer composition.

Her Majesty - The Beatles 
Twenty-nine seconds of Paul and his acoustic. McCartney never really gets credit for the short acoustic gems he released with the Beatles, "Yesterday", "Blackbird", "Mother Nature's Son", etc. Well, maybe he did. Never mind.

Grace - Jethro Tull
Like Paul McCartney, Ian Anderson always had a way with a well-written and compact acoustic tune. Songs like "Wond'ring Aloud", "Cheap Day Return", "Slipstream", "Only Solitaire" and "Nursie" are all around or under 1:30 playing time, but on "Grace" Anderson manages to compose a 37 second song complete with strings.

Old Mother Reagan - The Violent Femmes
Hey, a complete protest song in 32 seconds! This one always cracked me up.

Tommy's Holiday Camp - The Who
From the rock opera Tommy, "Tommy's Holiday Camp" features Keith Moon in his usual zany mood.

Hyperactive Child - The Dead Kennedys
No song title has ever been more apt. Thirty-seven seconds of mayhem.

Don't Start (Too Late) - Black Sabbath
"Embryo" from Masters of Reality may be shorter, but I think this song from Sabotage is more complete and less an intro than the former. Wonderfully creepy.

I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Million - The Moody Blues
The 33 second book end to another very short piece "I Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred" (clocking in at a mammoth 1:07) on To Our Children's Children's Children. Justin Hayward's voice and acoustic always conjured "visions of paradise".

What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise) -  Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
So many Zappa snippets to mention, like "Zolar Czakl" from Uncle Meat and "Amnesia Vivace" from Absolutely Free, but this one from We're Only In It For the Money is a favorite.

Five Per Cent for Nothing - Yes
A Bill Bruford composition, primarily for percussion. This is what one would refer to as "syncopated".

The Ballad of Wilhelm Funk - Green Day
Thirty-two seconds is perhaps too short for a proper "ballad", but I don't think Green Day has ever been considered proper.

Bookends Theme - Simon and Garfunkel
Beautifully rendered and complete in 32 seconds.

My Mummy's Dead - John Lennon
The "Plastic Ono Band" album was cathartic for Lennon. His experiences working out his demons via primal therapy sessions is vividly brought to the surface on many of the songs found therein.

Little Room - White Stripes
It's sloppy and Meg White cannot even keep a damn beat on the bass drum, but the song does have its charms and is considered a breakthrough for the White Stripes.

Clang Boom Steam - Tom Waits
A happy little tune from Tom about his baby.

Goodbye Cruel World - Pink Floyd
Listed at 48 seconds on the album (minus the bleed over from the previous song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part III"), this is a cheerful little song of suicide from Pink.


As I delved, I spanned, if I may paraphrase the Lollard preacher John Ball from the 14th century. Here are six short favorites under 1:30 for your further edification.

Pigs on the Wing, Part 1 - Pink Floyd
A quiet respite from the continual bitterness that pervades the Animals album.

Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin
Alright, technically a few seconds beyond the limit, but I was never one to follow rules that comprehensively.

Only Solitaire - Jethro Tull
Perhaps the only acoustic tune that refers to V.D. and toilet seats in such a mild and unoffensive context.

Aisle of Plenty - Genesis
Listed at exactly 1:30 on the album.

Eyes of a Child II - The Moody Blues
Edited from a longer take, obviously, but at 1:20 this is exactly how it appeared on the album.

Penny for Your Thoughts - Peter Frampton
At one time, Frampton was in Humble Pie. People often forget he was a great musician and not just a pop star with nice hair.

Thanks for stopping by. I may, in the near future, do some pruning and clipping on some sorely neglected previous articles (never trust the internet to stay the same in regards to pictures and videos), but I'll simply ponder such actions for the time being. You see, I am perfecting procrastination through creative indecision (I'll explain tomorrow).

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