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Clearmountain pauses in Jennifer Egan's "Great Rock and Roll Pauses"
December 25, 2010 10:51 PM   Subscribe

Great Rock and Roll Pauses (permalink) is a short story from Jennifer Egan's collection of linked stories A Visit from the Goon Squad. A 76-page series of PowerPoint slides, it's told by a 12-year-old girl who documents her autistic brother's collecting of Clearmountain pauses, the moments in rock and roll songs when the music dramatically stops and then restarts, which are named after famed music producer Bob Clearmountain. The songs mentioned in the story include: Foxy Lady - Jimi Hendrix; Please Play This Song on the Radio - NOFX; Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin; Bernadette - The Four Tops; Young Americans - David Bowie; Mighty Sword - The Frames; Supervixen - Garbage; Long Train Runnin’ - The Doobie Brothers; The Time of the Season - The Zombies; Faith - George Michael, Closing Time - Semisonic; Roxanne - The Police; Rearrange Beds - An Horse. More examples can be found in this previous MeFi post and a number of other excellent sites.

Don't be intimidated by the length of the story; it won't take you more than 15 minutes to read (see Tufte for why) and is well worth the time. Happy holidays everyone.
posted by jng (41 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
:( the correct link for the Jimi Hendrix "Foxy Lady" pause is in the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnkYatAT7NE&feature=player_detailpage#t=141s. Sorry, I'll get the hang of this no editing after the fact soon!
posted by jng at 11:04 PM on December 25, 2010


Helmet
posted by Hoopo at 11:20 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stop!
posted by Hoopo at 11:31 PM on December 25, 2010


My favorite rock 'n roll pause is probably the one Jerry Garcia made in 1995.
posted by item at 12:09 AM on December 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


My favorite rock 'n roll pause is probably the one Jerry Garcia made in 1995.

Fuck you.
Plus: Sugar Magnolia.
posted by hal9k at 12:37 AM on December 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favourite rock and roll pause is really a near-pause (but if we're counting Closing Time, this counts too); in Bodies by the Sex Pistols, around 1:50 the band appears to be winding up another two minute marvel with an outro, then they kick back into the verse with the quintessential Sex Pistols lyric:

Fuck this and fuck that / Fuck it all and fuck a fucking brat

Just when you think you can relax, here's Johnny to kick you in the teeth.

Oh, and the story this post is about is neat too; an interesting use of media, although whether it's laziness or art, I'm not sure.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:55 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always kinda liked the extra-long pause on "Molina" by CCR and the briefer pause on "The Ballad Of John & Yoko".
posted by frodisaur at 1:43 AM on December 26, 2010


Not necessarily the best, but by far my favourite is the pause in Queens of the Stone Age's You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire. Mainly because my uni roommate and I would always try to hit that loud "UH!" grunt when the music kicks back. However, we could never get the timing right which meant that we'd just grunt loudly for no apparent reason during a silent part of the song...
posted by slimepuppy at 1:45 AM on December 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Short Skirt, Long jacket 0:56

I'm not clear how loose the definition of a "clearmountain pause" is. For example:

Pictures of Lily 1:17

There is the minutest of pauses where everything stops, but it's barely a heartbeat.
posted by maxwelton at 2:19 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes this'll do nicely. Don't know if these are listed or not, but from my music I've found:

INXS - New Sensation
The Beatles - Ballad of John and Yoko
The Shamen - Ebeneezer Goode
Eurythmics - Here Comes The Rain Again
The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
Herbie Hancock - Rockit
Frou Frou - Shh
Pop Will Eat Itself - Can U Dig It?
The Age of Love - The Age of Love
Dodgy - Grassman
FC Kahuna - Hayling
Dr. Dre - The Next Episode (feat. Snoop Dogg)
Hilltop Hoods - Clown Prince
Prince - Batdance
Rage Against The Machine - Killing in the Name

Now if you'll excuse me I have Christmas dinner guests I have to get back to.
posted by Sutekh at 3:26 AM on December 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does the "fade out and fade back in" count?
The Smiths - Some Girls are Bigger than Others
posted by readyfreddy at 5:01 AM on December 26, 2010


That kind of pause is something that has always been there but I'd never really noticed before. Whenever I hear one of them from now on, it'll stand out to me, and I'll have a name for it. Neat.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 AM on December 26, 2010


Does the "fade out and fade back in" count?

I would think not. That seems to be a soundboard trick as opposed to a musicians' trick.
I'm glad that one of the first posts here was of Helmet. They made their living on the pause.
posted by NoMich at 5:59 AM on December 26, 2010


slimepuppy's story reminded me of the opening to Tool's record Undertow. What sounds like low, low guitar strings streeeeeeetched to make choked, gurgling noises kinda bubbles up and grinds for a little while behind some crickets, then it goes silent. Some indefinite time passes before the crunch kicks in on "Intolerance." I've listened to it maybe a hundred times and can never, ever get the timing right. If I'm listening to it loud or in headphones—the only way to listen to Tool—the gigantic crunch startles me every single time.
posted by cgc373 at 6:21 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crass
posted by Max Power at 6:58 AM on December 26, 2010


You can get the pause in waiting room by fugazi by counting like this:BHNHA23456 78-1234bunananana-
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:30 AM on December 26, 2010


I'm appalled that no one has mentioned the pause in "Dick in a Box" yet.
posted by jscalzi at 7:41 AM on December 26, 2010


A Visit From the Goon Squad is terrific, but I wouldn't call it a collection of linked stories -- it's very much a novel.

And as much as I enjoyed that chapter, I doubt there a longer rock'n roll pause than the "silent jam" in Divided Sky.
posted by muckster at 7:46 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just when I think the internet has thrown out just about everything it can, someone comes along and posts something like this. Awesome.
posted by nevercalm at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think my favourite is the one 2' 51" into 4' 33"
posted by Devonian at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cheap Trick's "Stop This Game" has one of my favorite rock pauses at (2:44 in this clip). Badfinger's "No Matter What" (2:34) is another. And the riff to AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" is sort of built around the dramatic pause.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:53 AM on December 26, 2010


My favourite:

Why are you so petrified of silence? Here, can you handle this?
posted by yellowbinder at 8:59 AM on December 26, 2010


Nirvana - Milk It

About which: I learned sort of spontaneously that if it is 1993 and you are on the porch of a student house in Kingston, Ontario, with your head whirling from half a gallon of Purple Jesus at like 10 in the morning because it is Homecoming weekend and you haven't been sober in 48 hours and you are midway through a pre-game warm-up party that you and your punky friends have convinced yourselves is merely an ironic celebration of the day's football game and not actual participation in that outmoded bourgeois ritual, which you underscore by chanting random graduating years at top volume at anyone who passes - if you are in such a state and you fling yourself off that porch at the start of the pause in the chorus in righteous solidarity with the inchoate rage about to emerge from somewhere down at the very bottom of Kurt Cobain's gut, you will miraculously land in a drunken rubberlimbed crouch so perfectly timed it'll look rehearsed.

Your friends will remember it for years to come, somewhat convincingingly, as maybe your finest moment as an undergrad. In any case, if you had to pick a moment in your life to stand in for all of 1993 . . .
posted by gompa at 9:01 AM on December 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's right, "convincingingly." That was how we rolled in '93 . . .

*burps up just a little vomit, swallows it back*

posted by gompa at 9:06 AM on December 26, 2010


Related to the dramatic rock pause is the false ending, which was always a fun way to mess with the next DJ back in my college radio days. If they weren't paying attention they'd suddenly hear silence and lunge for the next song, but then the first one would kick back in. The most fun record for this was Blotto's "Metal Head", which had five or six false endings (starting around 4:30).
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:06 AM on December 26, 2010


Richard Hawley's old band The Longpigs' song Lost Myself is basically made of these pauses (when you get to the chorus anyway)
posted by merocet at 9:33 AM on December 26, 2010


Looked in vain for The Replacements- Can't Hardly Wait. I don't know about the amount of Pause Power, but it is high in Song Excellence.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:38 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The finest practitioner of the false ending - at least, the creator of the best example I've ever heard - is cut-up queasitronica artiste and WFMU denizen People Like Us. She did a Peel session where, with absolute mischief aforethought, she not only engineered numerous false endings but edited in Peel's famed wrong-footed responses to same. He clearly wasn't expecting this, and as fans will know it didn't take much of the unexpected to throw the man's chain of thought.

The result was spectacular, intensely confusing and then hilarity^maxint ensued, at least with this listener. Peel himself sounded miffed.

(The MP3 links I can find to this are dead, but a little dabbling should find relief. It's the session with Doody Waltz.)
posted by Devonian at 9:46 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


which was always a fun way to mess with the next DJ back in my college radio days. If they weren't paying attention they'd suddenly hear silence and lunge for the next song, but then the first one would kick back in. The most fun record for this was Blotto's "Metal Head", which had five or six false endings (starting around 4:30).

posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:06 PM on December 26
Jeezus, Slack-a-gogo, now THAT takes me back: I WAS "the next DJ" -- Blotto member "Lee Harvey" Blotto himself did the shift before me.

My nominee is the two false stops in Cream's "Badge" - and after the second pause, in enters George F. Harrison's glorious solo. When Cream re-united recently, they held that second pause until the audience figured out that they were waiting for George's entry... who would now never be coming. It's the most eloquent silence ever played.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:53 AM on December 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


My favorite has got to be the one at 2:50 in Improper Dancing. If the YouTube comments are to be believed, the band regularly inserts another song into the pause during live performances.
posted by shponglespore at 10:22 AM on December 26, 2010


AsYouKnow Bob: When Cream re-united recently, they held that second pause until the audience figured out that they were waiting for George's entry... who would now never be coming. It's the most eloquent silence ever played.

My favorite in-concert pause was seeing the last show of one of Let's Active's tours. During "Every Word Means No" they got up to the pause in the song (1:52 point in the video), and then froze. A waiter came out with a tray of champagne and glasses. The band toasted to a great tour and thanksed Tommy Keene for touring with them, then put their instruments back on and, with the two drum beats, went right back into the song.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:31 AM on December 26, 2010


It's not a pause, at all I guess, but it reminds me of Roger Waters' 1999 tour. During the extended instrumental break in "Dogs," half the band, including Rog, sat down and played a few hands of cards.

That's right, poker-playing "Dogs."

/derail ends
posted by gern at 11:09 AM on December 26, 2010


There's a great pause/false ending near the end of "Looking for Love" by King's X.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:01 PM on December 26, 2010


I hate the idea that this effect, which goes back god knows how long, should be associated with a hack like Bob Clearmountain.

Anyway, my favorite: Yardbirds--I'm Not Talking.
posted by rodii at 12:30 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised there's not a big anti-pause crusade, remember the anti-key change crusade?

One of the bands I'm in has a song with a long pause, and when we were mastering the record (back in 2000), we couldn't figure out why it kept saying we had 14 tracks, instead of the 13 we'd recorded. It took a bit to figure out that the DAT machine was counting the resumption of the song as its own track.

When we play it live, we usually go into another song, unrehearsed, or jack jaw with the crowd, or give our instruments to people in the crowd, or well, just about anything really (it's punk rock, after all), and then launch right back into the song with a four syllable vocal cue.

Anyway, oneirodynia has picked my favorite pause in music, and this post is of my favorites on metafilter. Thanks, jng.
posted by makabampow at 7:55 PM on December 26, 2010


Pauses rule as a headbanging device. Examples: every metal band ever. Specifically

Pantera-New Level

Pig Destroyer-Piss Angel

Zyklon-Disintegrate

And one of my favorites, Morbid Angel-He Who Sleeps. It's not really a pause, but that gong sound fucking rules.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:17 PM on December 26, 2010


No no, you're all wrong. There is only one candidate for the best Clearmountain Pause:





Sweet Transvestite (3:40, if you can't watch the whole thing, which you should do anyway because Tim Curry was awesome) from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

You know the bit: "I see you shiver with antici........
...
...
...
...
pation."
posted by ashbury at 8:35 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


ashbury wins.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:16 PM on December 26, 2010


Also, as the subject of this post, the story told in slide form is very very good.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:31 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, the dead stop/pause has always been a favourite thing of mine in rock music. Related but different is what I succinctly refer to as "that thing where you're in 4/4, you do a quieter bit and then you come back in hard on the second beat of the bar instead of the first."

Best example ever is at 1:00 in this mighty but long-forgotten gem.
posted by Decani at 3:43 AM on December 27, 2010


That story is quite haunting. Thank you so much for sharing.
posted by shannonm at 7:11 AM on December 29, 2010


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