"Stranger now, are his eyes, to this mystery, he hears the silence so loud." Metallica/For Whom the Bell Tolls

I have a great ear when it comes to music. It’s not as much my ears as it is my memory. When I hear a song being played too slowly or too quickly, I notice it immediately even when most people around me don’t. Obviously this used to happen more in the days of vinyl when not every record player turned at exactly the same speed, but it still occasionally happens today.

I also pick up on different versions of songs — again, sometimes when others don’t. The Black Crowes released two different versions of “Hard to Handle,” for example. One has more horns than the other. I can easily tell them apart, yet when I mentioned it to Susan she said she had never noticed it. A quick check on Wikipedia turns up the following: “Two versions of the song exist, the original album version and the hit single remixed with an overdubbed brass section.”

Similarly, there are three different versions of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” that get radio airplay. There’s the 1982 version from their “Saints and Sinners” album, the 1987 version from the band’s self-titled album, and the 1994 version from the band’s “Greatest Hits” album. To my ear they sound like three completely different songs, and yet when I mentioned it once to a self-proclaimed “Walking Encyclopedia of 80s Music,” he said he hadn’t noticed.

Sometimes, the changes are so minute that nobody seems to have noticed. The bridge to Collective Soul’s song “Shine” has lead singer Ed Roland saying the word “Yeah” twice. In the music video that aired on MTV for years, he said “Yeah” three times. It’s very obvious to me, but no one I’ve ever mentioned it to before ever noticed. It’s not even mentioned on the song’s Wikipedia entry. But I will swear to you, it’s true; they’re different.

A month or two ago, local radio station 94.7, formerly “The Buzz,” became “The Brew.” Along with the name change came a format change, and the station stopped playing rock and metal from the past two decades and now focuses on 80s hair metal and arena rock, which is alright by me. Although I listened to more than what The Brew plays, everything The Brew plays, I listened to. I don’t know that I’ve heard a song played on the station that I haven’t at one time or another played air guitar to.

One day The Brew played Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.” The version they played had been so edited that it was almost jarring. “Did you hear that?” I asked Susan. “Hear what?” she said. “They just cut out half the song!” I said. “No they didn’t,” she replied.

Now here’s the thing, and it’s definitely an O’Hara thing — it’s not enough to be right and it’s not enough for me to know I’m right. YOU have to know I’m right. And I’m telling you, I was right.

We’ve heard the song played on the radio a couple more times since then and every time I mention a section has been shortened, cut, or removed, Susan tells me I’m nuts and that I’m remembering things wrong.

Last night while driving, I was ready. When that memorable riff started broadcasting through our car’s radio, I had a plan ready. I grabbed my iPhone, switched to the stopwatch application, and started timing about 10 seconds into the song.

The results?

The version being played on The Brew was approximately 3:45 in length. (My timer said 3:30. I say I missed the first 10 seconds and Susan says I missed 20, so I split the difference.)

According to Wikipedia there are two different versions of the song. The original album version runs 5:56 in length, while a shortened radio version is 4:12. The version I’m obviously used to hearing is the album version. That’s the version The KATT (another rock radio station) plays as well.

If Susan was right and I missed 20 seconds (putting the length at 3:50), that’s still 22 seconds shorter than the radio edit mentioned on Wikipedia.

But anyway, yeah. If anyone was keeping score, I was right.

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7 Responses to “Sweet Child of

  1. ladyjaye says:

    That’s horrible but not that surprising. After all, if TV stations can edit TV shows to fit in more ads, what’s preventing radio stations from doing the same with songs? In any case, that sucks.

  2. CGHill says:

    I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often, really.

    Speeding up tracks was invented for AM Top 40 way back when; I figure it’s the next step, once people start objecting to hack-job edits.

  3. shadow says:

    The main reason they do that is because it’s. But then agan it’s like. what I mean?

  4. scooterb23 says:

    And here I thought I was the only one that ever noticed this. For the record…I hate the Whitesnake version that has extra keyboards in it, because they also change up the beginning of the song, and it’s just not right.

    Our local Brew type station cuts a whole verse out of Live’s “Lightning Crashes” I guess “placenta” is too tough a word for people to hear.

    I’m glad to learn I wasn’t crazy about the Collective Soul song.

    Also, there’s an edit of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” that totally butchers the song from the version I grew up on. They remove parts of one verse, use one of the late song chorus sections near the beginning, put the rest of the song at the end…it’s an unholy mess.

  5. Rob says:

    Maybe we should make a database of these or something.

    In high school I had a cassette copy of Love and Rockets’ Express, which contained their cover version of Ball of Confusion. I picked up the CD a few years later, and that song is completely different. Like the Peter Gabriel song you mentioned, it’s like someone put it into a computer and just cut and pasted song parts and moved everything around … the intro’s gone, the chorus is at the beginning and the verses are at the end, it’s just bizarre.

  6. CGHill says:

    Shortly after I put in that earlier comment, I dialed over to the Brew, and they were running their usual promo about “not so much music by dead guys.”

    Which segued right into a horribly-butchered version of “Who Are You,” bad enough to make the two deceased members of the band turn over in their graves.

  7. dean says:

    Ok so I have a cunning plan. A plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasle… get on I -tunes and pay for a song that just might be the cut version but it not stated. The sue Apple for your missing 22 seconds.
    After all if you paid for 5 gallons of gas and only got 4 youd have a case right?
    I wonder in to what detail they have detailed information of their tracks?
    are radio versions available on I-Tunes? Or is it just the full album stuff?