In the vernacular of our times, it has become commonplace to refer to one’s location by referencing its telephone numbering plan area code, typically one digit at a time. So for today’s 4:12 post, I’m going deconstruct the digits of the song length and reassemble them as an area code. Specifically I’m going to go to the 4-1-2… Pittsburgh, PA.
Pittsburgh’s history of producing musicians mirrors its evolution as a city in many ways. In the old days of yore, Pittsburgh was a big industrial town and was known for its steel manufacturing. Back then, Pittsburgh also produced lots of big name musicians like Stephen Foster, Henry Mancini and Perry Como (whose devotion to the Pittsburgh Pirates was responsible for his contributions to baseball history). Over time, however, Pittsburgh’s economic status faded while its music scene was reduced to claiming one-hit wonders like Rusted Root and stetching to include the likes of Trent Reznor, Bret Michaels and Christina Aguilera as “Pittsburgh’s Own”.
The Clarks were the biggest name of a Pittsburgh scene that developed in the late 90’s, but like the Vibro Kings, most of those bands never expanded their appeal outside of Western Pennsylvania. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Donny Iris and Joe Grushecky in here, as they’re local favorites. Anti-Flag and Don Caballero made a greater national impact, albeit for niche audiences.
More recently, Pittsburgh has seen an economic renaissance, thanks to healthcare and education centers while the likes of Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa (no relation to Sammy) and Girl Talk have rocketed to the top of the charts. Girl Talk’s albums (available here on a pay-what-you-want basis) are the greatest sampling achievement since the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and if they weren’t great enough on their own, picking out all of the samples in them is a fun little game. How many can you find in “Give Me A Beat”, the 4:12 tune from his decorated, Feed the Animals album? Styx, Janet Jackson, Carole King, Air, Tom Petty, Ice Cube…