Chris Butler

Devil Glitch

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One of the most unique CDs of the 1990s, The Devil Glitch received much more attention for its structure than its contents. More as a joke than anything else, Chris Butler spent three months writing a song that ended up being 69 minutes long, with no instrumental breaks and no repeated lyrics. Butler then recorded the song live in one take, singing and playing acoustic guitar with a three-piece band backing him for the first 11 and last five minutes of the song. Butler then broke the song up into two- to five-minute chunks and passed those out to various musician friends, who added their own instrumentation and vocals. Reassembling the whole thing over the course of a year and a half, Butler ended up with the world's longest pop song, as certified by the 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. However, most observers neglect to mention one salient fact about this song: it's really good. Butler's gift for smart and witty lyrics is on full display -- many lines in the song are laugh-out-loud funny -- and the repetitive nature of the song, which mostly consists of couplets starting with the phrase "Sometimes you can fix something by...," gives the song an undeniable forward momentum, to the point that the song's final climax is almost unbearably intense. The added elements on the different sections of the song range from a frenzied free jazz sax solo by Mars Williams, Butler's former cohort in the Waitresses, to the straight-ahead power pop of New Jersey bar band the Gefkens. This variety also helps prevent listener fatigue. The CD also includes a five-minute "radio friendly version." "The Devil Glitch" is both a joke and a gimmick, but it's also a terrific pop song that's considerably more interesting than many songs one-twentieth its length.

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