Here’s a piece from BBC Radio about pauses in rock music, and author Jennifer Egan. Her recent book, “A Visit From The Goon Squad,” has a very moving chapter about musical pauses, with special reference to the pause in “Closing Time.” (Egan says she got the idea for the musical-pauses theme in her book after reading Jacob Slichter’s “So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star,” which details the pause in “Closing Time” and its ever-expanding length during the mix process.) The Egan book is fascinating. The section in question is written in PowerPoint, but it’s surprisingly emotional.
One interesting thing about the “Clearmountain Pause” in “Closing Time,” as it’s referred to in the radio piece, is that Bob Clearmountain didn’t put that pause in the song. But we stilled named it after him. Several of the hits that Bob had mixed featured long, melodramatic pauses near the end – usually right before a climactic last round of the song’s chorus. “Closing Time” had a short and efficient pause, at least the way Semisonic recorded it with producer Nick Launay. But while Clearmountain was mixing our album “Feeling Strangely Fine”, a friend of ours heard a mix of “Closing Time” and said, “Bob Clearmountain did this mix – why is that pause so short? Doesn’t he have a button for making pauses longer? That pause needs to be LONG!”
She was right! But the mix was done, so we had to have our mastering engineer, Bob Ludwig, create the pause by stretching the existing pause, layering it, making it as long as he could. Thereafter, we referred to that part of the song as the “Clearmountain Pause.” At shows over the next few years, the pause got longer, and longer, and longer until it was a musical piece unto itself.
Thanks to Scottish fan Ross Clark for sending me the link, I enjoyed it a lot. And by the way, it’s Jacob’s birthday as I write this: Happy Birthday!