I can’t name many songs which are 6 minutes long; maybe less than 10. Spanish Sahara, Everything’s Not Lost, Amsterdam, Wanna Be Your Lover, Heroes, All My Friends and How To Disappear Completely. Wanna Be Your Lover is the odd one out of this group because it drags (it’s basically a brilliant song with a 3 minute piano wank attached to the end). The others are all great, which is weird. Out of this random (and flawed – I’m less likely to remember rubbish songs, but that said I can remember plenty of crap 2,3 and 4 minute ones) sample, 85% are brilliant songs, and the other one is a sick radio edit. Yeah it’s a small sample size, but I reckon this could still show that a given 6 minute + song will probably be better than a given 3 or 4 minute song. Why?
It’s not simply by virtue of it being so long (Insomnia by Flawless is another one. Also, John Taylor’s Month Away). A song does not get better by playing it for longer – 6 as opposed to 4 minutes of Love Is All Around is like 6 as opposed to 4 minutes of talking to the weird racist neighbours. If you listen to these songs, they all share something in common – they build, they go places. Normal songs don’t usually do that. They nearly allows follow tidy A/B/A/B/A formats. Songs which can be stretched to at least 6 minutes are usually A/B/C/D/E/F/G affairs.
But to do this, to build, a song has to have something to build on. It can only be the thing which is at the centre of all music – melody. If the melody is not there (or, as is more usually the case is pretty average), it either can’t be built on shouldn’t be. That quality self-censoring that artists possess (although you might often think they don’t) kicks in to make sure that only the best songs make it through, and so any melody which is strong enough for 6 minutes will be watered down to three.
Now listen to How To Disappear Completely, which is a bit like listening to pure misery (in the best, best possible way), and appreciate that melody.
And, yes, it’s 5:55. But oh well.