Feb 23, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Guitar Solos, what happened to em?

Music is a fickle beast, specifically popular music. Most songs tend to follow a predictable pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. One particular fun spot is the bridge, which allows the song to move past the pre-established formula or idea of the first four parts of the song and really lay down some musical epic-ness.

Over the years though, bridges in songs have been reduced to mere seconds in order to hurry back to the catchy chorus that seems to be the key selling parts of a song now a days. It gets even worse when you get into radio edits. Some radio edits cut out the bridge completely in order to move to the radio personality or advertisements quicker.

In traditional rock and roll, the bridge was the birth place of the best part of the song, the face melting guitar solos that show off the skill of a musicals, while also providing killer rifts and melodies. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd has probably the most famous guitar solo with the entire track clocking in at 9:06 on the album and 4:41 for the radio edit. Personally, I would kill to hear an almost 5 minute rock song on the radio today. As of this writing, Shake Me Down by Cage the Elephant is number 1 on Billboard's Top 100 Alternative Songs and that song is only a scant 3:32 seconds long, a full minute plus some shorter than the radio edit of Free Bird. Not to say that the musicians that combine, yes like Voltron, to form Cage the Elephant are not talented, they are very talented, but I feel that there are more ideas to explore via music than their 3 and a half minute artistry. And yet no one wants to hear the musical talent, they just take in the lyrics and hit "next track".

So bring on the power chords, super fast picking and overdriven guitar. For those about to rock, I salute you.