A Little Post About Little Songs

I love an epic six minute story song as much as anybody, but there’s something undeniably satisfying about the occasional little gem that packs a huge punch and then is gone before you quite know what hit you. Doris Humphrey said that “every dance is too long,” and while I wouldn’t go that far with songs, sometimes less is more, and economy can be incredibly moving. Below are five of my favorite songs that are under three minutes long. Would love to hear about some of yours in the comments!

We Owned The Night (Lady Antebellum, Fun. Cover)
This thing is a whole two-act play in 2 minutes and 43 seconds. Yeah, the rhymes are mostly “slant” rhymes, but they work in this style. The word choices are simple and direct and perfect, and Nate Reuss’ voice is exactly right for it.

Gertrude McFuzz (Seussical, Ahrens & Flaherty)
Watch one of the great songwriting teams in our genre totally break your heart in one minute and twenty-seven seconds. It’s just a little one-chorus song, but at the end you know everything you need to know about the character, and you’re rooting so hard for her.

Acoustic #3 (Goo Goo Dolls)
Growing up in Buffalo, this song spoke right to my moody teenage heart. Everybody needs a nicely crafted little 1:57 emo song every once in a while, don’t they?

Notice Me (Silverstein & Cole)
I love this heartbreaking cabaret song sung by the incomparable Jessica Molaskey and written by one of my most influential teachers at Princeton, Steven Silverstein, with lyricist Stephen Cole. This song is tragically not on youtube, but go to Steven’s website below and select the fourth song from the player. I promise it’s worth the extra click: http://www.steven-silverstein.com/media/cabaret/

Over The Rainbow (Wizard of Oz, Arlen & Harburg)
And of course, from a movie (The Wizard of Oz), this strong contender for greatest musical theater song of all time comes in at only two minutes and twelve seconds long. “Birds fly over the rainbow. Why, then, oh why can’t I?” Because I’m not as good as Arlen and Harburg. That’s why.

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