Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shorties: How To Find a Shorty

In the course of finding songs for this week’s theme, and reading other people’s posts, I have developed a set of rules for finding shorties. If we ever decide to do a second week of shorties, I hope this will help.

1. Find a song by an artist or band who are known for short songs.

When They Might Be Giants first got together, they had a common problem; no one would sign them. They came up with an unusual solution. They recorded songs that were under a minute long each, and put a different song each day as an answering machine message. Then they plastered signs all over New York City to let people know about their Dial-a-Song service. It caught on, and was even reported in the New York Times where I first heard of it, and soon enough They Might Be Giants were signed to the Bar-None label. Many of the Dial-a-Song tunes found their way onto their early albums.

They Might Be Giants: Token Back to Brooklyn


2. Go with a TV theme or a cover of one.

Spiderman has been made into an animated TV series many times, but this Spiderman theme comes from the first series, made in the 1960s. The original Spiderman cartoon was animated by Ralph Bakshi, who went on to make the movies Fritz the Cat and Wizards.

Moxy Fruvous: Spiderman


3. Use a kid’s song.

From My Head comes from an episode of Sesame Street. It is a rare example of a jazz singer doing anything in less than two minutes. Kid’s songs often come in at under two minutes; there seems to be a widespread belief that no kid will pay attention for longer than that.

Betty Carter: From Your Head

[unreleased, no purchase info]

and, 4. Go with an older song.

Generally speaking, the older a pop song is, the shorter it is. That is because recording and transfer technology limited the length of a recording that would fit on a vinyl single and still sound decent. At the time that the Clovers cut their classic, the upward limit for a single was 2:30. But Love Potion #9 is even shorter.

The Clovers: Love Potion #9


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