Song of the Day: “4’33” by John Cage

Will [5:50 PM]:
is there a better song
than
goodbye stranger by supertramp?
answer
no
no, there is not
dan you should just stop your song of the day articles
b/c the song of the day
every day
is goodbye stranger
by supertramp

Dan [6:37 PM]:
My rule is one song per artist, so i can’t pick it every day
Maybe I’ll do a “songs that aren’t goodbye stranger week”
and rate each song based on how similar it is to Goodbye Stranger

“4’33” by John Cage is widely considered one of the most influential pieces of experimental music from the postwar era. It’s also widely considered not to be “Goodbye Stranger.”

Cage’s “4’33” transforms the ambient noise of the performance setting into the music. Musicians’ sheets instruct them not to play during the entire piece. Yes, it’s four and a half minutes of silence. It challenges the blurry boundary of what can be classified as music.

This is in stark contrast to “Goodbye Stranger,” which is not 4:33 of silence.

The closer you look, the more differences pile up: “4’33” is three movements, while “Goodbye Stranger” is exactly one. Meanwhile, none of the recordings “4’33” I’ve sampled contain the lyric “Just the thought of those sweet ladies / Sends a shiver through my veins.”

“4’33” predates “Goodbye Stranger” by more than 25 years, and that gap shows. “Goodbye Stranger” features synthesized sounds that would have been impossible mid-century. It’s not even 100% clear that the words “goodbye” or “stranger” were recognized by Oxford English Dictionary in 1952.

I rate “4’33”‘s similarity to “Goodbye Stranger”: ★ out of ★★★★★.

Click here for the full list

Click here for the full list

Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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