Sunday, October 09, 2005

Worst CD single of the year

Dolly Parton has a CD single out to promote her forthcoming album Those Were The Days.

Look closely at the single before buying, regardless of the price you pay for it. If you just note the fact that there are four tracks, you may be excited when you put it in the CD player. That excitement will vanish in exactly thirty seconds.

Thirty seconds is how long it takes for Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter" to finish. At first you may think your CD player skipped the majority of the track or that you ended up with a poorly manufactured CD. That's not the case.

The four songs on the CD are actually one song and three tiny samples.

The CD should be given out for free. It's nothing but a commercial for an upcoming album.

We think the album may be worth hearing but we don't think the single is.

On "If I Were A Carpenter" the first voice you hear isn't even Dolly's.

We're still excited about the album (which comes out this Tuesday). That's inspite of the single, not because of it.

On Tuesday, you'll be able to hear samples of everyone of the album's twelve tracks at Amazon. The samples will last thirty seconds. What's the point of this CD single?

To enrage Dolly Parton fans? "What? It's over already? What!"

In some ways this is probably a risky project for a number of reasons and Parton and her label (it is her label) may see the single as a way to reassure some fans that this will be stripped down Dolly singing in the bluegrass manner. If that's the case, we honestly feel her last few albums have already created that expectation and that the more likely case is that the CD single will be snatched up by people excited to see the four tracks, people who are looking at the titles, not at the running time. "'Me and Bobby McGee!' and "Where Have All The Flowers Gone!' I'm getting this!"

We don't think most people, outside of club deejays, immediately check a track's running time before making a purchase. The CD single is inexpensive, none of us paid less than a dollar for it and Betty got it for a quarter. But we think it's more likely to kill excitement among actual CD buyers than build it. This might have been a nice marketing tool for radio or music reviewers, but for fans of Dolly, they aren't pouring over the details on the back cover, they're just noting that it's Dolly, it's new and there are four songs from the new album!

It's as though you stepped into your local grocery store and someone cried out, "Free pizza!" You rush over quickly only to find that you're being offered a single bit of pizza that wouldn't fill a tea spoon as a sample.

Now if you walk by and see someone handing out samples, you might take one. You wouldn't have a problem with it. But there's nothing on cardboard cover, front or back, to suggest that this is a sampler. (One bar code over the plastic on the back cover did note "Dolly Parton Sampler." That's one out of ten CD singles purchased.)

Dolly's voice sounds wonderful. We're interested in purchasing this CD Tuesday, But that's in spite of the CD single, not because of it. As Dona said when she realized her CD player wasn't skipping, "I feel kind of ripped off."

Those Were The Days, out Tuesday Oct. 11th, will feature Judy Collins, Mary Hopkins, Yusuf Islam, Tommy James, Norah Jones, Alison Kraus, Kris Kristofferson, Roger McGuinn and others. It's a blue grass treatment of songs such as Lennon's "Imagine," Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," the sixties classic "Crimson & Clover" and more. We think it will be worth listening to and we hope it's a CD that we'll play constantly.

But we think printing "SAMPLER" or some other warning in large letters on the cardboard slipcover would have disclosed the contents of this CD single clearly to buyers. Without it, they may, like Dona, feel ripped off.

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