Skip to content

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane

How long are songs?


Gabriel Rossman discusses the two peaks, one at just under 3 minutes and one at just under 4 minutes. He quotes musician Jacob Slichter:

In anticipation of “crossing over” the single to radio formats . . . Each mix had to be edited down to under four minutes, an important limit in the mind of radio programmers. (To submit a single with a track length of 4:01 is as foolish as pricing kitchen knives sold on television at $20.01). We pestered Bob Ludwig, the mastering engineer, with a slew of editing adjustments. “Okay, shorten the intro to what it was two verses ago, cut eight bars off the end of the bridge, and undo the cuts we asked you to make to the final chorus.”


  1. I wonder if the Boxtops’ just under two minutes is like the just-under-3 and just-under-4 Gabriel found.(A Website I just looked at said that they did 30 takes in one afternoon. I wonder how different all those takes were.)

    • Andrew says:

      I recall reading something somewhere saying that the song was so short, they added the airplane noise at the end, just to make it a little bit longer. So I doubt they kept it under 2 minutes as a plan; I just assumed they didn’t have any more material in the song and they didn’t want to just repeat.

  2. John Mashey says:

    Every distribution needs outliers, such as those found by MeatLoaf in one album:
    ’1. “Bat Out of Hell” 9:56
    2. “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)” 5:04
    3. “Heaven Can Wait” 4:38
    4. “All Revved Up with No Place to Go” 4:19
    5. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” 5:23
    6. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” (duet with Ellen Foley) 8:28
    7. “For Crying Out Loud” 8:45

  3. Steve Sailer says:

    There’s a documentary of Frank Sinatra recording “When I Was 17.” As soon as the take is done, Sinatra asks, “How long was it?” Told that it’s 4:20, he frets that radio might find it too long to play. Then he sits through the playback. When it’s over, he says, “They’ll play it.”