Measuring Time with Popular Music

Or (Setting My Internal Clock to Albums) or (Alt Rock Clock)

If you’re like me, you have to be in a bunch of (thrilling) meetings. The Pandemic has created a Zoom-based Office Culture, resulting in a strange push and pull between “Respecting People’s Limitations” and “Your Thing Says You’re Available.”

However you slice it, there’s no way* around getting into meetings, but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the notion of time. 

I often measure time in chunks of things, and not just chunks of minutes like you basics. If someone says they have two hours to do something, my thought is, “You could watch ‘Star Wars’ in that amount of time.” Recently, I’ve expanded this science to records and albums. 

I’m resolving to start doing this with albums, music and other odd measurements of music-based time keeping. If I have to get somewhere in 20 minutes, I might think “I’ll be there in the first four tracks of Definitely Maybe.” By the time “Columbia” starts, you will have arrived. That kind of thing. 

SO… if you’re a little like me, in that you’d like to measure the expanse of time by albums, but not so much like me that you’ve already done this yourself, here are some examples to implement in your daily lives: 

30 Minute Chunks: Meetings in these ranges are often called “huddles,” but don’t let that fool you: you’re still having a conversation with a manager about work stuff. There just won’t be as many prepared slides (perhaps this “huddle” will be about the slides needed for A DIFFERENT meeting). When these come up, feel free to play one of these at a low volume, in your head, or at a high volume, depending on your comfort level…

  • Devo’s Freedom of Choice
  • The Damned’s Damn Damn Damn
  • The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat
  • The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious
  • James Brown’s Live at the Apollo
  • Prince’s Dirty Mind
  • Ramones’ Ramones

The Just-Under-An-Hour Chunks: My work has been experimenting with off-the-hour meetings, in an on-going effort to not arrest everyone’s time from them all the time. This means that we get meetings that either start a few minutes after the hour, or are scheduled to end just before the hour. In those cases, you need something in the 50-ish range, and these should do nicely: 

  • En Vogue’s Funky Divas
  • Janes Addiction’s Ritual de lo Habitual
  • Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville
  • The Weeknd’s After Hours

But what if the meeting runs long? What’s more: what if you know it will run long? Consider these for that just-over-an-hour time…

  • Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation
  • Oasis’ Definitely Maybe
  • Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty

The Monsters: These are the tough ones to get through — the ones with built in stretch breaks and (when in person) snacks because people just know we cannot sit still for the whole time. To face a monster, we must be armed with monsters…

  • Soundgarden’s Superunknown
  • Prince’s Sign ‘O’ the Times
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland

Feel free to come up with your own, and create combos for larger projects (for example: I know doing laundry happens in one 40-minute chunk for the wash and a 90-minute chunk for the dry, so that means my laundry takes one Purple Rain and Sign ‘O’ the Times to get through it (assuming not a lot of sweat pants). 


*There isn’t. Did you look down here to find some secret way to get out of meetings? I don’t have it. But if YOU have one, please let the world know. We’re dying here. 

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