“How Long” as a song title is appropriate in many ways, particularly at this moment. As is its opening line – “How long has this been going on?” Paul Carrack, then the leader of a cultish British band, Ace, wrote this song… only he knows how long ago.
As Ultimate Classic Rock (UCR) reports, 45 years after the song appeared as an Ace single in 1975, it has reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales chart, selling 4,000 downloads, reaching 831,000 streams and increasing sales by more than 2000 percent. When it first appeared, it reached No. 3 on the charts.
As the main reason for the sudden rise of the song seems to be its use in a new ad for Amazon Prime titled Binge Cheat, which features the song’s opening line.
But then this opening line is very timely in these chaotic times when everybody needs to stay inside.
UCR notes that Ace the band released three albums before breaking up. Carrack went on to work with Roxy Music, Squeeze, Roger Waters, Ringo Starr and, notably, the Genesis offshoot Mike + the Mechanics – he was their lead singer on the hits “The Living Years” and “Over My Shoulder.” Carrack was also frequently seen on stage with Eric Clapton.
Carrack said he wrote “How Long” when he lived “in a small flat with my girlfriend, who’s still my wife now. … I got the basic chord structure. I borrowed a Rebox tape recorder, but you actually bounce one track, left onto the right and you do a dub and back again to the left. So you could overdub a couple or three things. To me, this was just magic.”
“I must’ve come up with the chorus and put the harmonies on. Then my wife and I went to her mum’s … where we got one square meal of the week! This I do remember – I wrote the lyric on the bus going to my future mother-in-law’s. I wrote it on the back of that bus ticket. That’s my excuse for there only being one verse.”