Wow! Why are all these songs three minutes long?

Yesterday I got to hear Nolan Porterfield talk about the history of recording devices.  He was talking about how someone was all excited about their new mode of inquiry.  They were going to set out to discover why all old songs were three minutes long or less.

No great reason, just that that’s how much recording time you had.

So, then, he turns to this question–“Why does all our American music have its roots in the South?”

Is it because of the unique mixture of religion and culture, with a dash of “too hot to do anything else?”

Or is it because the South was just far enough away from New York City and Washington DC to seem exotic but close enough that you could easily get there by train?

I’ll give you three guesses which Nolan Porterfield is leaning towards.

Speaking of country music, it seems some of you read the fantastic Living in Stereo*.  It’s not limited to just country music, but the latest post is about the rules for writing about country that Cheryl Cline came up with.  My favorite?

3.  Deplore it’s imagined shortcomings when compared to Black music. (Example: the blues is life-affirming; country is fatalistic.) BE SURE to mention that country-rock is the domain of disaffected middle-class white boys.

I see this pretty frequently and I always wonder if the author has any experience with the blues other that The Blues Brothers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with The Blues Brothers, I’m just saying.



*Hi, David!  Please don’t narc me out to the Man.

4 thoughts on “Wow! Why are all these songs three minutes long?

  1. I heard somewhere that most pop songs are about three minutes long because that’s the average length of intercourse. It’s some shit to do with corporate research into the subject.

  2. This may explain the enduring popularity of "Stairway to Heaven"–continuing hope that sex will last the length of the song, and thus longer than three minutes.

  3. For modern day music it is no longer than "four minutes and some seconds."* It has to do with radio station demands, not sex. Snoogins.*KRS-One, "My Philosophy."

  4. Pingback: Blues Women « Tiny Cat Pants

Comments are closed.