(Tom Scholz — not bad, but he’s no Lee Mavers)
“Don’t get me wrong, slugger,” scolds The Morning News‘ resident efficiency fetishist Josh Allen. “I love ‘More Than a Feeling.’ But it’s four minutes and 47 fucking seconds long. I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense.”
My scientists told me that the perfect song length had to be closer to three minutes than two, but definitely shorter than three minutes. Three minutes is where bloat starts to set in. Where the band thinks: Hey, let’s do the chorus seven times. Hey, let’s give the saxophone guy a real moment to shine on this one. Hey, let’s add another bridge.
Just look at what clocks in between two and a half and three minutes: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “We Got the Beat,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Paranoid,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Debaser,” “God Only Knows,” and “Fall on Me.” These are not only stone-cold classics but they also encapsulate all that is great about the band without wasting your goddamn time.
The scientists then dug up this song by a group that pretty much defines one-hit wonder: the La’s. The song is “There She Goes,” and is so flawless that it instantly made everything else the band did pointless. This ditty is two minutes and 42 seconds, and is all about songwriting economy.
I listened to it and said, in my rich and sonorous timbre, in my typically concise and absolutely-nailing-it fashion: “Here is a song that has everything I need and nothing I don’t.”
The main riff acts as the intro. The verses are the chorus. The solo is 100 percent fat-free and leads right into a tidy bridge. And then we’re back where we started. It’s like some ingenious IKEA futon or Japanese love hotel where every component is doing double-duty. When “There She Goes” is over, I guarantee absolutely no one in the room goes: “Jesus, finally.”
I’d hit upon the perfect song length. I fist-bumped somebody.