I’m a man out of time. In many ways, quite literally.
When it comes to the new musical paradigm, I’m finding I need to make several adjustments. My primary issue relates to time and the average attention span. And this is a pretty huge adjustment, indeed.
One of my favorite records in the world is Adrian Belew’s Op Zop To Wah. It’s an hour long, and I love every minute of it. In the course of that hour, Adrian is able to cover nearly every aspect of his musical self: intelligent pop sensibility, guitar shredding, progressive rock leanings, the avant-garde, and all points in between. It’s a full experience, worthy of anyone’s time.
Adrian’s latest record, Pop-Sided, clocks in at right around half an hour. So do his three prior studio efforts Side One, Side Two, and Side Three. As he released these albums, Adrian’s explanation for their scant length was that he wanted each CD to represent one side of a traditional LP. But Adrian was well aware of something else I wasn’t really considering.
It can be argued that attention spans, particularly where music is concerned, are getting shorter. There are a TON of entertainment options out there, and music doesn’t dominate the pool the way it once did. So it’s best to hit hard and hit quickly to maximize impact.
Artists releasing their new albums on vinyl seem to be doing so by keeping the album’s sides relatively short. Where once a record held five or six songs a side, now it seems to be three or four. This annoyed me until I realized it spoke to attention span. Don’t try to hold them for too long. If they’re interested, they’ll flip the record over.
I’ve come to realize I need to take the same approach where my writing is concerned. This is particularly true of my record reviews. I’ve spent so much time looking for the right things to say over the course of 500 words. Truth is, I could make the same case in 150 words or less.
From now on, I’ll be asking myself two questions about an album: What do you hear, and do you like it? Because that’s really all anyone wants to know. Want to learn more? Get yourself a copy of the album or visit the artist’s web site!
I’ll save the expanded pontification for deluxe box sets.
I’m sure this is for the best, because most times enough is —
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell
Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at email@example.com
As William Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. But you still need to say enough to tickle the fancy of your readers. Finding the balance is tricky, though.
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Based on the reactions I’m getting from the bands, I think I’m on the right track. But there will always be adjustments.
I find that the older I get, the shorter my attention span becomes. You made some good points.
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