From Free Bird to Bohemian Rhapsody to Sweet Child of Mine; the classic rock genre has seen some of the most iconic hits ever made. These songs might have been longer than most, but they were still focused enough for the DJs to play on the radio repeatedly. In this article, we aim to explore some of the way too long rock songs (playtime over 10 minutes), that transcended the boundaries of traditional music:
“Child in Time” by Deep Purple
Featured on Deep Purple’s album Deep Purple in Rock, released in 1970, the song protests the Vietnam war. The song is widely regarded as an anthem in the heavy metal genre and was performed by the band multiple times during their concerts in the years 1970-73. The song has a playtime of 10 minutes and 22 seconds.
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple admitted that the song Child in Time was based on the song Bombay Calling by It’s a Beautiful Day. The song was covered by many artists in the coming years, including Yngwie Malmsteen and Liv Moon.
“The End” by The Doors
The End by The Doors is one of the best songs from one of the most legendary rock albums ever released. The song was written by the band’s lead singer, Jim Morrison, who based it on his painful breakup with his girlfriend. It runs for a good 11 minutes and 43 seconds.
The first official recording of the song was done without any overdubbing. The Doors also went on to perform the song at the closing of their final live concert, as a group of four. The song has been used in many movies over the years, most famously in the 1979 film, Apocalypse Now.
“Starless” by King Crimson
King Crimson have a knack of releasing long songs. Their longest song Lizard (divided over four parts) didn’t make our list, but the 12 minutes and 16-second long Starless did. It was featured in the album Red Album, released in 1974, not too long before the band disintegrated.
John Wetton wrote the lyrics and composed the melody for the song. The song was initially intended to be a part of the band’s previous album, but Bill Bruford and co. weren’t very fond of it at the time.
“Salisbury” by Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep, also known as the beach boys of heavy metal is a hugely underappreciated band. Their album, Salisbury, was released in 1971 and the title song had a playtime of 16 minutes and 12 seconds. Mick Box, Paul Newton, and Ken Hensley were all credited with writing the lyrics of the song.
Like all other songs of the album, the song was a bit too multidirectional for the average listener, but for the obsessive followers of the rock band, it was a banger. The song and the album, in general, received mixed reviews from the critics.
“In Held ‘Twas in I” by Procol Harum
Procol Harum released “In Held ‘Twas in I” as part of the album Shine On Brightly, in 1968. The song is 17 minutes and 31 seconds long. It is famous for shattering the traditional standards of pop and rock genres by running for 17 minutes and 31 seconds.
Gary Brooker and Keith Reid wrote the song along with Mathew Fisher. The song has since long been a staple of progressive rock music and is revered by aficionados from all over the world.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is a song from the eponymous Iron Butterfly album released in 1968. The album recording was initially intended to be a soundcheck as the band waited for the producer, but the performance was so good that the producer didn’t deem a second recording necessary, okaying it to be the approved album version.
VH1 named the 17 minutes and 5-second-long song the 24th greatest hard rock song of all time in 2009. The lyrics of the song are pretty straightforward, and you can only hear them at the beginning and the end.
“Sister Ray” by The Velvet Underground
Sister Ray closed the second side of the 1968 album White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground. The song runs for a good 17 minutes and 27 seconds.
The song is said to have been recorded in one take; the band was okay with letting some of the mistakes slide. Sterling Morrison, John Cale, and Maureen Tucker composed the song.
The lyrics of the song, written by Lou Reed, are based on a story that he wrote involving violence, transvestitism, homosexuality, drug use, and corruption.
“Get Ready” by Rare Earth Time
The first-ever “Get Ready” song was written by Smokey Robinson and performed by The Temptations. That version reached the #29 spot in the US. Later on, Rare Earth released a cover of the song which managed to clinch the #4 spot in the US.
Initially released as a single which was eventually sold over a million times, an elongated version of the song was released as part of an album, which included solos from every member of the band. The album version ran for 21 minutes and 30 seconds. The song has been a staple of college parties for decades now.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd
Arguably one of the greatest songs in the history of progressive rock, the 9-part composition was a tribute to the former band member Syd Barrett. Barrett was removed from the band because of his drug abuse and problems related to mental health.
It’s said that Barrett was also present at the time the song was being recorded, but none of the band members were aware of the fact. The 26 minute and 1-second long song are considered a progressive rock masterpiece by fans and critics alike.
“Mountain Jam” by The Allman Brothers Band 33:41
The longest song on our list, Mountain Jam, runs for a staggering 33 minutes and 41 seconds. It was a recording of an impromptu instrumental jam by the band. The first ever recording of the song was done at Macon Central Park.
The song’s music is inspired from the melody of Donovan’s There is a mountain. On the original Eat a Peach album, the song took two complete LP sides. The digital era helped in uniting the two halves and forming a single, Southern rock classic, which is widely regarded as one of the best-improvised compositions of all time.