Apr
05
2010

The Mystical Art of Track Listing

Getting the running order of your songs right on an album is an arcane process.

There are so many factors to pay attention to.

Is the balance of ballads to up beat numbers right?
Do you start with a party and mellow it out during the record? Or vice Versa?
What about the keys of the songs? Can you have more than three songs in a row in the key of E if it’s not a Chicago blues record?
What about the general theme of the record, does it tell a story or is it just a collection of tunes?
How long is too long, and how short is too short?
Do people even care anymore with ipods and iphones and shuffling and single downloads from itunes?
Should the falsetto song be straight out there or hidden on the back stretch?
Is it true what Robert Forster says that the second last song on an album is always the worst?
If so am i jinxing whatever song i put there?
Should i put a Go Betweens cover there?

Robert sniffs out another disappointing second last song

Does the record company/agent/manager have better instincts for a single than the man on the street. or worse?
Or exactly the same?
Will the record reviewers say you’re treading water if the early songs on the list are most like the old ones?
Or will they be reassured?
Should you put the ones Mum likes all together, or force her to work through the record like she’s trapped in IKEA for 48 minutes when she’s just trying to buy a lightbulb?

welcome to my record Mum! sorry...

Should i have segues?
or Skits?
Should the skits mention the year and trap the record forever in the tweens?
Should i fade the songs?
Or perhaps a cunning fade in, or try the old fade out fade in again
How long should the silence be between the tracks?
Is it the right kind of silence?
Legend has it that Johnny Marr had so much coke that he went around sampling different silences until he had the perfect silence between the tracks. The right kind of silence, if you will…

Johnny contemplating the right kind of silence

I have 48 hours to find these answers
Wish me luck!

11 Comments
  • Colin M
    Apr 05 2010

    I feel your pain. In regards to the shuffle comment, check out my site – I’m wanting to bring back the art of listening to an album, rather than putting it on random, listening to, or even just buying a single song from any one artist. It invalidates the whole thing otherwise.

    Good luck. Love the Bindi Jam!


  • mjd
    Apr 06 2010

    “Do people even care anymore with ipods and iphones and shuffling and single downloads from itunes?”

    Yes! My word, they do. (Read: I do, at least.)


  • A.Ron
    Apr 06 2010

    Of course I would say ‘Dan, just be logical’
    some suggestions:

    - Shortest to longest
    - Alphabetical order
    - Alphabetical by Key(All songs in A, then A# etc)
    - Chronological (newest song last)
    - Slowest to fastest
    - Most original to most derivative/plagiarised/litigious
    - Happiest to saddest
    - Funniest to solemnest
    - Best to worst
    - Best to worst according to the reactions from animals


  • Robin Boat
    Apr 07 2010

    I’m going to use the A.Ron method to re-order all the albums I own.


  • Jake Roff
    Apr 07 2010

    Hey Dan. Enjoyed the ‘how to make / not make an album’ blog. I felt your frustrations and pain from the first generator problems to the track listing.
    I’ll see you at the Great Northern in a week. If your in a drinking phase, I’ll shout you one.
    Cheers. Jake Roff


  • Stuart McCullough
    Apr 08 2010

    Dear Dan,

    I only hope I’m not too late. Songs should be listed strictly according to the length of their title. Personally I prefer shortest to longest as it gives the back of the CD cover a lovely half-Christmas tree sense of symmetry that I feel I-tunes (try as it might) cannot replicate.

    As for skits, you can never have too many. If not for skits, it would be impossible to gauge precisely how detached from reality many of today’s leading gangsta rappers really are. And once the novelty of a skit wears off, listeners will be forced to reach for the ‘skip’ button – which is a useful way to ensure they’re paying attention. Those working outside the gangsta milieu should really take note.

    Can’t wait for the new album – skits or not.


  • A.Ron
    Apr 09 2010

    Ha. ‘Drinking phase’. Jake’s got you down Dan.


  • Shayne
    Apr 19 2010

    Dan,
    Feel confidence brother. The track listing to your past two records has been SPECTACULAR. I haven’t stopped listening to them since discovering you. They have the right amounts of ups and downs and the vibe/mood is spot on. Whatever you did with those seems to work so perhaps stick to that?

    I’m loving the new songs that i just caught you playing at The Metro opening for Paul Dempsey. A story about a DJ for Ice Addicts… what more could we ask for.

    Looking forward to catching you at Spectrum in Sydney. I’m also willing to sacrifice some dosh and buy you a beer or 10 in thanks.

    ANNNNDDD A.Ron…. love the way you capture Dan’s crazyness.


  • Mad Cat Lady
    May 22 2010

    Gig at Troubadour was most excellent. What was the ninth song called again? I missed the title. Poison Estury Jam? Pollution Mystery Jam? Liked it alot. Is the album finished yet? huh? huh? huh? yet?


  • admin
    Jun 07 2010

    poisoned estuary jam?


  • Mad Cat Lady
    Jun 08 2010

    Thank you, yes. I found a review that named it eventually – and some excellent photos of Kiernan in his sparkly outfit :)


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