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Ten Terrific Tunes Under Two Minutes Long

tick tock tick…

These are busy times, my friends.  So many priorities are competing for your time.  After Twitter, Facebook, paying your bills, mowing the sheep, completing your bug collection, and waxing your eyelids, do you really have time to spin “Whipping Post” or “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre”?  Deep down, you know you’ll never get to the second disc of the Can box set.

Since you were too busy to read the intro paragraph, let’s just jump into the list.

10.  “Hit the Road Jack,” Ray Charles.  The smart alecks at Wikipedia gives this a 2:00 count, but my iPod says 1:58, so we’ll go with modern technology.  Ray belts out this classic so hurriedly, he couldn’t even insert the comma before the proper name.  This sweet hitchhiker tune topped the pop charts for two weeks in 1961.  Play the positively eternal 4-minute cover version by the Residents very loudly if you have hearing problems and hate your neighbors.

9.  “The Letter,” The Box Tops.  Lacking the time to write “The Novel,” Alex Chilton and company took this Post-it Note to #1 in 1967.  Chilton was a mere 16 years old when he recorded this classic.  I was still trying to learn how to say something other than, “Hey…um…so…I’m LATE FOR CLASS…” to girls when I was 16.  I was never late.

8.  “Beaten to the Punch,” Elvis Costello.  Cramming twenty tongue twisting numbers onto one vinyl platter was not simple feat in 1980, so Declan went below the two minute mark several times on the “Get Happy” album.   “Love for Tender,” “The Imposter,” “Secondary Modern,” “Black and White World,” and “Beaten to the Punch” are all shorter than a commercial break.  “Riot Act” clocks in at a positively epic three minutes and thirty-five seconds.  Every artist has their personal “Free Bird.”

7.  “Lake of Fire,” Meat Puppets.  The Puppets kept their material short, because three minutes is a long time not to do drugs.  You may be more familiar with Nirvana’s extended play disco remix, which goes on for an interminable two minutes and fifty six seconds.

6.  “From Me to You,” The Beatles.  The Fab Four were as concise as punk rock before the Maharishi and Dylan messed with their heads.  Starting and ending the Fort Worth/Liverpool connection, Lennon played a harmonica style that he learned from Delbert McClinton.  Delbert also played harmonica on the 1962 Bruce Channel hit “Hey! Baby.”  Fate has a lot to make up for when it christens you with the name Delbert.

5.  “He Gives Us All His Love,” Randy Newman.  That stinkin’ Randy Newman.  How can we tell if the little person hater is joshing us?  I mean, does God really give us all His love or is She busy orchestrating NCAA pool brackets while mankind suffers poverty, war, and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals?  Newman ponders this mystery for a full minute and fifty-three seconds.  In 1972, slave traders with marketing degrees received more of Randy’s time.

4.  “That’s All Right,” Elvis Presley.  This song has no historical significance besides being the first single that Sun released on Elvis and being the pebble that started the rock ‘n’ roll revolution.  It has been said that due to popular demand, Memphis radio personality Dewey Phillips played this song 14 times in a three hour time period the first night he received it.  That Elvis guy must have been as big as Justin Bieber back in his day.

3.  “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy),” Simon & Garfunkel.  S&G had to make the morning last while digging that groovy feeling, but they also had to finish this song pronto.  This ditty is, of course, on the “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” album, wish was just titled in that manner to make me hungry.

2.  “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” Roger Miller.  Miller wasn’t one to pontificate – “England Swings,” “Do-Wacka-Do,” and “Dang Me” were all under 120 seconds.  This roller rink anthem only skated up to #35 on the country charts in 1966, proving that listening audiences have always avoided the hard truths in life.

1.  “Great Balls of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis.  Jerry Lee Lewis was struggling with sin and salvation in 1957.  “I got the Devil in me,” Lewis announced to Sun Records owner Sam Phillips prior to cutting this classic rocker.  The title was an extremely subtle reference to sexual desires.  One month after this “Great Balls of Fire” was released, Jerry Lee married his thirteen-year-old cousin.  It was not a superlative career move

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