In 2005 Pat Metheny was alarmed by shortening attention spans and bite-sized media blips.
“The new form now is ringtones!” he exclaimed in an interview. “It went from a symphony to an album, then to singles, then edit your single, then four-bar loops, and now it’s down to one or two seconds.
In response Metheny created The way up, a CD comprising a single work that lasts over an hour. The guitarist described it as “a protest in the purest sense of the word—it offers an alternative, not just a shrill polemic…[the album] “is a reaction to a world where things are getting shorter, dumber, less interesting, less detailed, more predictable.”
“If you look at the whole history of the group, we’ve been totally interested in expansion in terms of form… It seemed like now was the time to go all the way and attempt to use the CD itself as a platform.”
This according to “The advancing guitarist” by David L. Adler (JazzTimes XXXV/2 [March 2005] pp. 36–42).
Today is Metheny’s 60th birthday! Below, the group plays the full work live in April 2005.