What Happened to the Long Songs?

Ironically, this post is relatively brief.

But as I sit here listening to one of my favorite songs of all time, In A Gadda Da Vida, I started to wonder where the long form songs have gone. They used to be a staple of rock music, which was the dominant style for some time. While not every band recorded long songs, there were some terrific pieces composed that clocked in at 7, or 8, or 10 minutes, or more.

These songs were epic orchestrations that tested the lyrical ability of the writers but also permitted the musicians in the band to take the sound into entrancing places. Rush’s masterpiece album 2112 is a testament to the long form. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is essential long form majesty punctuated by interludes.

The Doors, my favorite band of all time, were known for their long-form pieces. From The End to L.A. Woman, they created music that took you on a journey and told an aural story.

While I can occasionally find a piece of music with a great running time out there, it’s usually an older one that I’ve overlooked. I want to hear modern artists taking chances, running out to the minute marks that make the teeny boppers blanch.

Stop feeding the algorithm and make something special.

We’re in the era of streaming, where the limits are removed and the concepts can run free. Give me the next Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Give me the next A Rainbow in the Curved Air.

And just so you don’t think I’m all that old, the long form music I love mainly predates my years. Jim Morrison was dead before I was even a great idea. I heard In A Gadda Da Vida thanks to the film Manhunter.

I’ve just been drawn to the long-form songs since I can remember. Sure, Meat Loaf would gave us all a great treat with something like I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) and his performance as Robert Paulson in Fight Club. But it’s fewer and farther between than it was once.

I want artists to free themselves from the short-form madness of vanishing attention spans and start producing music that forces the listener to slow down and pay attention. Heck, you’d think with the laws being passed in places like Colorado it would become more common.

I know I shouldn’t make some dumb online petition for something like this to be embraced.

…or should I?

I shouldn’t.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2 thoughts on “What Happened to the Long Songs?

  1. It’s far worse than you state. I appreciate that we need to take baby steps to get back to what’s essentially prog rock, but the chances artists need to take go beyond song length. They need to experiment with different chord progressions, different time signatures, and FFS how about some dynamics? Seriously? Does everything have to be mezzoforte except the fade out?

    Perhaps the deterioration of our copyright laws will force the issue. Well-known artists are being successfully sued for copyright infringement by unknown artists who arrogantly think, or at least pretend to think, that the well-known artists have heard a single note of their music. The basis of the suits are very simple, and very common hooks that predate the United States itself, but the judges don’t understand either copyright or music, so we get very bad judgments. Going beyond the I–V–vi–IV progression may make such frivolous lawsuits harder to bring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great points. I wonder if the biggest problem is the closed loop of DJ/Producer coming up with a catchy hook, and then shopping it to someone to write songs around. Experimentation is lacking.

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