Most music fans are familiar with the feeling of wishing a song could last forever, to extend whatever feeling the song inspires into infinity and never leave the soundscape it creates.

This, of course, isn't logistically feasible, but it hasn't stopped many rock musicians from making the most of time itself. Several have pushed the boundaries of recorded music, releasing songs that fill up an entire album's side, sometimes two. Others have made sure to leave plenty of room for guitar solos or instrumental breaks that seem to last hours, while still others have written songs with more verses than anyone once thought mainstream rock music could allow.

The below lists takes a look at Rock's 40 Best Long Songs, each of which clock in at double digits.

40. "Warning," Black Sabbath (10:28)
From: Black Sabbath (1970)

Black Sabbath test the limits of the word "cover" with their rendition of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's "Warning," turning the three-minute blues-rocker into a 10-and-a-half-minute epic that traverses metal, blues, prog and jazz. Ozzy Osbourne's booming vocals are full of rich low end that's largely absent from the high-pitched wail of his later recordings. Meanwhile, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward tear into an exhilarating, free-form blues jam in the middle that recalls Cream more than the doom-laden dirges to which they would soon graduate. As the final song on their eponymous debut, "Warning" is a fitting send-up to Black Sabbath's blues-rock roots that also closes the chapter on the earliest phase of their career. (Bryan Rolli)

 

39. "Dogs," Pink Floyd (17:04)
From: Animals (1977)

Pink Floyd had no trouble stretching out a song to 17 minutes: As you’ll be reminded later on this list, sitcom-length epics were kinda their thing. But "Dogs" is their most underrated of these tunes, a dynamic piece that showcased all their musical signatures: Roger Waters’ biting but broad social commentary; David Gilmour’s harmonized guitar leads; Nick Mason’s subtle, strutting drums; and Richard Wright’s multi-layered texture on Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, Farfisa, Minimoog and synth-strings. "Dogs," the only Animals track co-written or co-sung by Gilmour, feels like it could ramp up and recede forever. (Ryan Reed)

 

38. "Karn Evil 9," Emerson, Lake & Palmer (29:37)
From: Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

It’s understandable, in a sense, that ELP drummer Carl Palmer doesn’t remember much about the recording process that birthed “Karn Evil 9.” As he later told UCR, the 29-minute opus was without a doubt one of the most adventurous and forward-thinking pieces they had ever attempted as a group. They imagined the advent of artificial intelligence before there was a name for that in the suite that's split into four movements. It all feels darn right schizophrenic (and appropriately so) at points, both in structure and the overall pacing. But if one wants to understand why Emerson, Lake & Palmer are revered by a certain segment of prog fans, listen to this. It’s got some of the finest performances on record from each of the three. (Matt Wardlaw)

 

37. "Three Days," Jane's Addiction (10:46)
From: Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)

Like so many of their songs, “Three Days” saw Jane’s Addiction take dark subject matter and turn it into mesmerizing rock. The track was inspired by Xiola Blue, a friend of Perry Farrell who came to Los Angeles to attend her father’s funeral. While there, she spent three days living with the Jane’s Addiction frontman and his girlfriend at the time, Casey Niccoli. The 72-hour span was reportedly filled with sex and drugs, inspiring such lyrics as “Three lovers, in three ways / We knew when she landed, three days she’d stay” and “Erotic Jesus lays with his Marys / Loves his Marys / Bits of puzzle, fitting each other.” From a broader perspective, the song contemplates such heady topics as life, death and love. Unfortunately, Blue died of a heroin overdose in 1987, three years before “Three Days” was released on Ritual de lo Habitual. (Corey Irwin)

 

36. "The Camera Eye," Rush (10:58)
From: Moving Pictures (1981)

"The Camera Eye" marked the end of Rush’s 10-minute era: They still crafted plenty of epic prog after this point, just not at this hefty length. It’s probably the least famous track on the band’s beloved eighth LP, Moving Pictures, lacking the immediacy and radio exposure of side-one classics "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," "YYZ" and "Limelight." But "The Camera Eye" still clears the same high bar of quality, pairing Neil Peart’s observations of city life (specifically New York and London) with polished, punchy patterns on both guitar and synthesizer. (Reed)

 

35. "Thick as a Brick," Jethro Tull (43:46)
From: Thick as a Brick (1972)

Released as one continuous, sometimes seemingly free-form track, "Thick as a Brick" only paused so listeners could flip over the old vinyl LP. Mastermind Ian Anderson meant it all simply as a prog parody, but Jethro Tull couldn't help but add their own smart flourishes – even when they were simply trying to make fun of this kind of extended noodling. "Thick as a Brick" stirred in not just the expected classical influences, but also jazz and (in what had become Tull's calling card) no small amount of snarky folk. Patient listeners will actually find more touch and finesse than Jethro Tull possessed even on the celebrated Aqualung – and more power, too. (Nick DeRiso)

 

34. "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," Bob Dylan (11:22)
From: Blonde on Blonde (1966)

Nearly 12 hours after Dylan sat down at the piano for a session in Columbia's A Studio in Nashville, he called the band in to record the song he'd written. It was four in the morning. If you've ever wondered what it might be like to witness Dylan embarking on a late night stream of consciousness, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is perhaps the closest you can get. Even his band was surprised: Where they expected the song to stop, it just kept going. "If you notice that record, that thing after like the second chorus starts building and building like crazy," drummer Kenny Buttrey said in Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited, "and everybody's just peaking it up 'cause we thought, 'Man, this is it. This is gonna be the last chorus and we've gotta put everything into it we can.'" The song takes up an entire album side, an epic manifesto to finish out Blonde on Blonde. (Allison Rapp)

 

33. "Xanadu," Rush (11:05)
From: A Farewell to Kings (1977)

The protagonist of Rush’s "Xanadu" searches for the lost titular "pleasure dome," where he plans to "dine on honey dew and drink the milk of paradise." And, ya know, live forever. With that amount of time, you could squeeze in at least a few listens of this lengthy 1977 epic, which builds from a volume-swell guitar atmosphere into bone-crushing hard-rock riffs, synth-sprinkled serenity and a squealing Alex Lifeson solo. It also gives Neil Peart a chance to show off his expanding chest of percussion toys, including tubular and orchestral bells. (Reed)

 

32. "100,000 Years," Kiss (Live, 12:00)
From: Alive! (1975)

Is it possible Kiss were better before Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin locked them in a room and forced them to write "proper" songs? "100,000 Years," the prog rock-leaning 12-minute centerpiece of their breakthrough live album, at least makes it an argument. All four band members get an extended moment in the spotlight here, with Paul Stanley popping up in rock 'n' roll preacher mode midway through Peter Criss' extended drum solo. He whips the crowd into a frenzy, just in time for Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley to return for the rousing "Do you feel right?" climax. (Matthew Wilkening)

 

31. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Creedence Clearwater Revival (11:05)
From: Cosmo's Factory (1970)

Many of Creedence Clearwater Revival's most famous songs feature dazzlingly sharp displays of songwriting economy. "Bad Moon Rising" clocks in at 2:21, "Down on the Corner" at 2:46 and "Fortunate Son" only needs 2:19 to get a whole lot of anger across. But right from their first album, with the hypnotic "Susie Q," CCR showed they could also stretch out when they wanted to. Two years later, Cosmo's Factory featured two such epics: the ambitious album-opener "Ramble Tamble" and a menacing 11-minute cover of the Motown classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." There's no aimless noodling to be found here; a clear sense of structure, mood and purpose remains present even during the song's long instrumental explorations. (Wilkening)

 

30. "Sister Ray," The Velvet Underground (17:29)
From: White Light / White Heat (1968)

Like the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" (found later in our list of Rock's 40 Best Long Songs), the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" was mostly an excuse for the band to jam. Unlike the Dead classic, "Sister Ray" found its definitive version in the studio. Recorded in one, improvisational take for the Velvets' second album, the distortion-soaked song is a brilliant cacophony of noise and blurred imagery. Lou Reed said of the song: "The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear." That pretty much sums it up. (Michael Gallucci)

 

29. "Got to Give It Up," Marvin Gaye (11:52)
From: Live at the London Palladium (1977)

The single version of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" was somehow trimmed down to around four minutes, but the full groove of the song is undoubtedly better felt on the 11-minute rendition, the second half of which settles into a slick, jazz-funk jam. At the beginning of the song, Gaye says "I used to go out to parties and stand around / Cause I was too nervous to really get down." Not anymore. With its infectious beat and chattering background voices, "Got to Give It Up" is the sound of a good party in all the best senses: "Let's dance, and shout / that's what it's all about." (Rapp)

 

28. "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," James Brown (10:48)
Single released in (1970)

With its funk rhythm, infectious horns and James Brown’s emphatic vocals, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” is more than just song: it’s a vibe. How else can you describe a tune that can spontaneously get people dancing, regardless of their personal tastes in music? Brown wrote this song while on the tour bus after a gig. “He said, ‘This is what I mean. Get on up, get on up,” Bootsy Collins later told the Red Bull Music Academy. “So we had to read his body language. So, it was like being in Japan and you don’t know the language. You have to interpret what he’s doing, what he’s feeling, what he’s saying.” The band picked up on what Brown was creating, and by the time they hit the studio days later, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” was ready to become a funk classic. (Irwin)

 

27. "Telegraph Road," Dire Straits (14:18)
From: Love Over Gold (1982)

A melodramatic piano intro backed by a rumble of thunder opens Dire Straits' "Telegraph Road." Mark Knopfler's guitar gets the first word before he introduces the song's main character, "walking 30 miles with a sack on his back." The song takes its name from the real life Telegraph Road, also known as U.S. 24, which runs for more than 70 miles north-south through Michigan down to Detroit. Knopfler wrote the song after having traveled the road on his tour bus, inspired by the way it had been used since being built in 1926. "People driving home from the factories / there's six lanes of traffic / three lanes moving slow." Seventy miles of road deserves all 14 minutes of song. (Rapp)

 

26. "Starless," King Crimson (12:18)
From: Red (1974)

The dark opening strut of "Starless," anchored by Robert Fripp’s massive mellotron, reached a new audience in 2018 thanks to director Panos Cosmatos, who used the song in his arthouse horror film Mandy. But there’s more to this piece than creepy atmosphere: Across 12-plus minutes, King Crimson utilize the balladeer belting of bassist John Wetton; the jazzy blowing of two saxophonists, former members Mel Collins and Ian McDonald; and the dynamic drumming of Bill Bruford, who pilots the band through metallic chaos and unexpected detours into fusion. It adds up to a pinnacle in prog history. (Reed)

 

25. "Machine Gun," Jimi Hendrix (Live, 12:38)
From: Band of Gypsys (1970)

Hendrix had been working with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles for less than three months at the time, but the connection they display as a unit during this live performance of “Machine Gun” at the Fillmore East is astounding. Miles answers Hendrix’s initial guitar lines with a spray of staccato drumming that immediately illustrates the “machine gun” tone. It also sets a fascinating dynamic between the pair, with Hendrix eventually coming unhinged at the four-minute mark. Miles is right there, connecting with and answering Hendrix’s every move as Cox lays down an infectiously funky groove. While multiple sources have acknowledged that compiling the Band of Gypsys album was a turbulent experience, “Machine Gun” mercifully captures one of the best moments the trio ever shared on stage. (Wardlaw)

 

24. "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," Traffic (11:41)
From: The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys (1971)

The way “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” fades in, it’s easy to believe you might have stumbled upon a jazz combo in a small club. Chris Wood’s sax parts waft in from a distance as Steve Winwood plays a deliberate piano piece, eventually adding his own organ part to further flesh things out. Winwood’s vocal feels of the moment and blissfully raw, with handclaps and other accents spicing up the jammy feel. One of the charms of this track is how improvisational it feels throughout. As they really dig into the instrumental section at 5:24, things then build to the point that it feels like Traffic is just going to play things out – but here comes the third verse. If the legend is accurate, Jim Capaldi wrote this section spontaneously, putting it in front of Winwood moments before he sang it. (Wardlaw)

 

23. "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida," Iron Butterfly (17:05)
From: In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)

We often hear artists lament how their work was edited for radio. Among the worst has to be “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which was shaved from 17:05 to just under three minutes. It couldn’t have been a fun task to condense the song, and if you haven’t heard the album-length cut, you’re really missing out. Sure, they left a microscopic sliver of a jam near the end of the single, but the full-length version uncovers a full and gloriously weird epic: A keyboard meditation by vocalist and principal songwriter Doug Ingle on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” actually arrives at the midpoint. Later, the churchy vibe was elevated to humorous effect on a ‘90s episode of The Simpsons where Bart Simpson tricked the choir into singing the song, with the organist later collapsing after playing through the whole number. (Wardlaw)

 

22. "Coma," Guns N' Roses (10:15)
From: Use Your Illusion I (1991)

Not only is "Coma" the longest song in Guns N' Roses' catalog, its structure is completely linear, with nary a chorus to be found among its 10-plus-minute runtime. Written by Slash during a "heroin delirium," the labyrinthine prog-metal epic is a microcosm of all the experimentation and sonic bells and whistles in which GNR indulged during the Use Your Illusion era. Doomy riffs and thunderous drums rub up against ominous ticking clocks, beeping heart monitors and a trio of women incessantly nagging Axl Rose for being an uncaring, sex-crazed degenerate. Meanwhile, the mercurial frontman fights for his life, with lyrics inspired by a pill overdose Rose suffered years earlier. The final three minutes of "Coma" are some of the most musically captivating and contain some of the most edge-of-your-seat lyrics of Guns N' Roses' career. (Rolli)

 

21. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Iron Maiden (13:45)
From: Powerslave (1984)

"Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is Iron Maiden's first and greatest epic, as close to a symphony as any metal band has ever gotten in the span of 14 minutes. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard the story, Steve Harris' adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1798 poem still oozes with suspense and dread. The band dips, ducks, weaves and lunges through several musical movements as Bruce Dickinson delivers the cautionary tale of a sailor who reaps the consequences of killing an albatross perceived to be a good omen. The titular mariner is spared but caught in an earthly purgatory, bound to tell the story to everyone he meets. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" likewise ends on a note of foreboding, but thankfully, the song is far more enjoyable to hear than the story is to tell. (Rolli)

 

20. "Dark Star," Grateful Dead (Live, 23:18)
From: Live/Dead (1969)

The Grateful Dead have used "Dark Star" as a launching point for onstage explorations for years, drawing it out for nearly 45 minutes at times. It started as a single with less ambition, a 2:44 track with little form and even less purpose. But it soon took on a life of its own, culminating in the definitive 23-minute version found on the band's classic 1969 concert LP Live/Dead. There's still not much form here, but each member weaves himself into song's fabric until a loose jam surfaces and the song takes flight. The 23 minutes don't exactly fly by, but you'll be left breathless by the end. (Gallucci)

 

19. "Heart of the Sunrise," Yes (11:27)
From: Fragile (1971)

"Heart of the Sunrise" tends to be overshadowed for several reasons: It doesn’t have the commercial viability of fellow Fragile tracks "Roundabout" and "Long Distance Runaround"; its opening chromatic riff is widely compared to King Crimson’s "21st Century Schizoid Man"; and Bruford has even described the piece as a warm-up for side-long masterpiece "Close to the Edge" (found later in our list of Rock's 40 Best Long Songs). But the 11-minute "Heart of the Sunrise" deserves to be ranked among the elite prog epics, piecing together some of the band’s heaviest riffs with moments of exquisite calm. (Reed)

 

18. "Echoes," Pink Floyd (23:31)
From: Meddle (1971)

Pink Floyd had been on a wandering journey since the departure of Syd Barrett – until Meddle in general and "Echoes" quite specifically. They'd tried long songs before, including the title track from 1970's Atom Heart Mother, but none of it held together so well. The reason this side two-encompassing closing track was different: "Echoes" was both experimental and collaborative. Wright created the long lyrical piano intro, while Gilmour achieved a fleeting seagull effect by reversing the inputs on his wah pedal. Waters had the idea of run Wright's "ping" through a rotating Leslie speaker, but more importantly composed lyrics that pointed to a string of future successes. Dark Side of the Moon was just over the horizon. (DeRiso)

 

17. "2112," Rush (20:34)
From: 2112 (1976)

For many Rush fans, "2112" is the pinnacle of progressive rock — a philosophical, hard-hitting, dystopian concept suite envisioning a future where music is banned by the evil "Solar Federation." For others, it’s a charming stepping stone. Peart would later grow into a much more subtle and affecting lyricist, and some of the connective tissue is flimsy. But the 20-minute "2112" is still geeky fun from start to finish, particularly on the echo-heavy stomp of "Overture" and the dreamy-to-thundering "Presentation," which peaks with a wah-smothered Lifeson guitar solo. (Reed)

 

16. "Maggot Brain," Funkadelic (10:21)
From: Maggot Brain (1971)

George Clinton gave some very unique instructions before guitarist Eddie Hazel recorded this instrumental title track: "I told him to play like his mother had died," Clinton explained in his 2014 autobiography, "to picture that day, what he would feel, how he would make sense of his life, how he would take a measure of everything that was inside him and let it out through his guitar." Hazel channeled those emotions beautifully in just one take. He'd only record and perform with Funkadelic sporadically over the next decade, but "Maggot Brain" became a centerpiece of the band's live shows in the hands of successor Michael Hampton. Hazel's performance has also gone on to inspire future generations: "Everything that I play is either a variation of 'Maggot Brain' or (the Allman Brothers Band's) 'Blue Sky,'" Ween's Dean Ween told Guitar Moves in 2013. (Wilkening)

 

15. "Free Bird," Lynyrd Skynyrd (Live, 11:30)
From: One More From the Road (1976)

It's a joke now to call out for "Free Bird" at a concert, but back in 1976 when Lynyrd Skynyrd played Atlanta's Fox Theatre, the desire to hear that particular song was very real. The nine-minute studio version of the song from the band's 1974 debut, Pronounced 'Leh-'nerd 'Skin-'nerd, is almost mournful in its approach. The live take heard on One More From the Road, however, sounds like a celebration capped with a searing guitar solo by Allen Collins (with some help from Steve Gaines). There's no punch line here, just the definitive version of a rock classic. (Gallucci)

 

14. "Close to the Edge," Yes (18:12)
From: Close to the Edge (1972)

This 18-minute track is the ultimate jigsaw monolith. In what might still be an incomplete list, co-writers Jon Anderson and Steve Howe have named among its inspirations: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, a 40-foot-long tape of nature sounds that took two days to record, Jean Sibelius' Symphony Nos. 6 and 7, a guitar solo that Howe thought would sound cool coming out of Rick Wakeman's keyboard, the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, an ambient album by Wendy Carlos, Mahavishnu Orchestra's flair for the well-timed pause, and Howe's idyllic home at Battersea along the River Thames. All of it was painstakingly assembled with completely exhausted producer Eddy Offord, who at one point literally keeled over with the reels still spinning. (DeRiso)

 

13. "Do You Feel Like We Do," Peter Frampton (13:46)
From: Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

Everybody knows the iconic talk box solos from "Do You Feel Like We Do," but they're only a small piece of the mesmerizing, nearly 14-minute puzzle, as quintessential a '70s FM rock anthem as you'll ever find. The rollicking live version of the song finds Frampton at the peak of his stadium-rock powers, zipping between nimble, single-note riffs and beefy chords as he leads the audience through rousing singalongs. When the band drops down for the haunting interlude (featuring "Bob Mayo on the keyboards," and don't you forget it!), you can practically smell the cheap beer and see the lighters flickering in your peripherals. (Rolli)

 

12. "Marquee Moon," Television (10:38)
From: Marquee Moon (1977)

Like all of Television’s 1977 debut, "Marquee Moon" exists in its own universe — the most logical descriptor is "art punk," but even that can’t encompass its unique cross-section of dirty six-string counterpoint, jagged drum beats and guitar solos that alternate between noise and jazz. The track takes its time unfolding those layers, patiently working through dynamic shifts as it butts up against the 10-minute mark. The reissue editions add an extra 40 or so seconds — a bit more time to gaze in awe at the marquee moon. (Reed)

 

11. "The End," The Doors (11:41)
From: The Doors (1967)

The epic closing track to the Doors' self-titled 1967 debut has become somewhat of a monolith over the years. Spurred by its inclusion in 1979's Apocalypse Now and now a pop-culture staple that can reflect everything from pretentious art to Oedipal musings, "The End" was Jim Morrison's centerpiece song, a nearly 12-minute dissection of a world spiraling toward collapse. It was initially written as a breakup song but even Morrison admitted it grew into something indiscernible. Does it need the entire 12 minutes to make this point? Maybe not, but we always figured the apocalypse would be a long, drawn-out affair anyway. (Gallucci)

 

10. "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," The Temptations (11:44)
From: All Directions (1972)

There is no over exaggerating the brilliance of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Yes, the song existed before this Motown update – it was originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth – but the Temptations and songwriter/producer Norman Whitfield took it to legendary status. The epitome of a slow burn, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” unfolds with precision. It starts with the recognizable bass line and drums, then adds strings, followed by funked-out guitar and that distinctive trumpet. Nearly four minutes pass before the first word is sung, the Temptations embodying siblings inquiring about their recently deceased father. The lyrics are heavy, with a harsh realism that’s both tragic and absorbing. The result is more like a film score than a pop tune: Later, there's another span of more than three minutes without vocals. Still, it’s the rare 12-minute song that makes you wish it went on longer. (Irwin)

 

9. "Funeral for a Friend" / "Love Lies Bleeding," Elton John (11:07)
From: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

“Funeral for a Friend” is as epic as any ‘70s-era Elton John stage costume that you might conjure. The instrumental piece opens with a mixture of swirling wind and ominous chimes, which give way to a truly majestic synthesizer section that segues into some beautifully understated piano from John. The rest of his band progressively make their entry as the synth lines continue to dance in the background. Together, they created one of the best musical settings that the oft-wild pianist ever put to record. But he wasn’t finished. “Love Lies Bleeding” is the vocal climax that completes the journey, answering and matching the energy “Funeral for a Friend” has built up. The two pieces weren’t written together, but when combined they feel like one long, very satisfying trip – despite the fact that John's character ultimately suffers such a regrettable end. (Wardlaw)

 

8. "Desolation Row," Bob Dylan (11:21)
From: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Performed in a surprisingly traditional acoustic arrangement, rather than the electric found on much of Highway 61 Revisited, "Desolation Row" is a trip through a chaotic carnival. There's Cinderella sweeping the street, Einstein disguised as Robin Hood and the Phantom of the Opera shouting out girls. "The circus is in town," Dylan declares, and by the time the song finishes more than 10 minutes later, it actually makes sense that Dylan would pour so much lyrical sophistication into a single song. Desolation Row is apparently ground zero for outcasts and misfits, clowns and creatures and everyone else who doesn't quite fit in, a place Dylan might have felt a bit at home. (Rapp)

 

7. "Station to Station," David Bowie (10:15)
From: Station to Station (1976)

"Station to Station" was Bowie's longest studio recording and he utilized every last moment of its 10 minutes. Opening with a train-like noise that shifts from one side of the speakers to the other, Bowie kept building the tension through several minutes. In fact, Bowie didn't announce "the return of the thin white duke until more than three minutes in. "Station to Station" switches styles and tempos, gaining urgency as it goes and making for something that feels more like a multi-part musical than an opening album track. "I got to keep searching and searching," Bowie sang. When the song ends, it is only the beginning of Station to Station. (Rapp)

 

6. "Voodoo Chile," Jimi Hendrix (14:50)
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)

The longest song of Jimi Hendrix’s career was recorded during a studio jam session on May 2, 1968. He'd been formulating the idea for a while on tour, building on a classic blues style made famous by Muddy Waters. Hendrix created a tune that ebbed and flowed perfectly alongside Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, organist Steve Winwood and bassist Jack Casady. “Voodoo Chile” delivers soaring moments, subtle grooves, raucous solos across its 15 minutes, arriving with everything you could possibly want from one of the most dynamic musicians in history. Mitchell, Winwood and Casady all get the moments to shine, but Hendrix understandably commands the spotlight. “Voodoo Chile” then spawned the shorter, more radio-friendly "Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” which became one of Hendrix’s most popular songs. (Irwin)

 

5. "Supper's Ready," Genesis (22:54)
From: Foxtrot (1972)

This seven-section tale is ultimately about really awful timing, as two lovers visit strange new worlds only to return home as the apocalypse gets underway. For Genesis, however, the timing was just right. "Supper's Ready" set an early cornerstone for the burgeoning new genre of prog. Steve Hackett, however, wasn't convinced: "I thought the first time Tony Stratton-Smith heard it he was gonna say: 'Sorry, boys, game's up, contract's cancelled, you'll be hearing from our lawyers,'" Hackett later recalled. Instead, the head of Charisma Records insisted that they keep going. So Genesis did, creating a song that was first a 23-minute side-long masterpiece, then an inspiration for the album cover, then a rough-draft road map for where Genesis would go on 1974's Peter Gabriel era-closing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and then a cool Easter-egg moment on 1976's A Trick of the Tail when Phil Collins included a key lyric ("there's an angel standing in the sun") near the end of the otherwise all-instrumental "Los Endos." (DeRiso)

 

4. "In My Time of Dying," Led Zeppelin (11:04)
From: Physical Graffiti (1975)

Led Zeppelin was clearly inspired by Blind Willie Johnson's '20s-era version of this age-old gospel, which he titled "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed." Jimmy Page also blatantly swipes a riff from the version on Bob Dylan's self-titled debut. But then they put themselves down as the songwriters? Not cool, man. Here's what was indisputably theirs: The thunderous extended ending, unwritten before Led Zeppelin started jamming it out in the studio. An impressed John Bonham instantly fell in love with the resulting 11-minute take, making this the longest song they ever recorded. Maybe because they once again employed the massive reverb effect from "When the Levee Breaks"? Either way, Bonham can clearly be heard saying, "That's gotta be the one." (DeRiso)

 

3. "Achilles Last Stand," Led Zeppelin (10:26)
From: Presence (1976)

With Robert Plant wheelchair-bound and sidelined by a brutal 1975 car accident, Page spearheaded the songwriting for Led Zeppelin's penultimate studio album. The grinding, guitar-heavy LP kicks off fittingly with "Achilles Last Stand," a monolithic rocker containing some of Page's most powerful riffs and a veritable symphony of guitar overdubs. Plant's anguished vocals play counterpoint to Page's six-string acrobatics, as the singer blends the myths of Albion, Atlas and Achilles with his own account of sojourning in Morocco with Page during their 1975 tax exile. Relentlessly heavy and painfully vivid, "Achilles Last Stand" is Zeppelin's most majestic epic, and its galloping rhythms influenced countless artists from Heart to Iron Maiden. (Rolli)

 

2. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," Pink Floyd (26:00)
From: Wish You Were Here (1975)

"Shine on You Crazy Diamond," the shimmering centerpiece of Pink Floyd’s ninth LP, deserves long-song bonus points: The nine-part piece, split in halves that open and close Wish You Were Here, totals 26 minutes — even if you count the two chunks separately, they’re both among the beefiest on this list. Like many of their songs, "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" is constructed as a journey of twists and turns. Its very length is part of the attraction. Gilmour’s electric guitars, including that definitive, four-note chime; Dick Parry’s sultry saxophones; Wright’s array of electric keyboards; the harmony vocals that elevate the chorus: Pink Floyd never sounded so graceful. (Reed)

 

1. "Whipping Post," Allman Brothers Band (Live, 22:40)
From: At Fillmore East (1971)

The five-minute studio take of "Whipping Post" ends the Allman Brothers Band's self-titled 1969 debut and sounds right in place with the other originals and Muddy Waters and Spencer Davis covers. But it's the epic, nearly 23-minute live version included on the band's 1971 breakthrough At Fillmore East LP that made the group's legend. Twenty-three-year-old Gregg Allman, who wrote the song, sounds like a world-weary bluesman as the group takes flight, opening the path for brother Duane's soaring guitar solo, one of the all-time greats. There isn't a second here that doesn't matter. (Gallucci)

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