THE RULES: No jazz or classical music included. There are WAAAY too many great songs in those genres that clock in past 10 minutes. So, I picked my favorite rock songs that were 10 minutes+ in their original studio versions (no live versions - that's cheating!) And before you begin to bitch ... I do not consider In-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly) a great song. Hence the reason The End (The Doors) and Dark Star (The Grateful Dead) are not on the list. Freebird is only 9:08 long, by the way.
In alphabetical order:
1. Achilles Last Stand – Led Zeppelin (10:25) Guitar chaos from a hugely underrated Led Zep LP, Presence. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at Page's house in Malibu, California where they stayed for a month while Plant was recovering from injuries he sustained in a car accident in Greece in 1975. Jimmy Page has been quoted as saying that "Achilles Last Stand" is his favorite Led Zeppelin song.
2. Alice’s Restaurant Massacree – Arlo Guthrie (18:34) A song so good it was made into a great movie. The song is a musical monologue, based on a true incident in Guthrie’s life on Thanksgiving Day 1965. He was arrested for littering and due to his conviction he was able to defer his induction into the U.S. Army. Apart from the chorus which begins and ends it, the "song" is in fact a spoken monologue, with ragtime guitar backing. If you’ve never listened to the entire song, you are a lesser person for it.
3. Desolation Row – Bob Dylan (11:25) Classic Dylan. As good as Dylan gets. It was recorded on August 4, 1965 and released as the closing track of Dylan's sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan weaves characters from history, fiction, the Bible and his own invention into a series of vignettes of urban chaos. Andy Gill, author of Classic Bob Dylan: My Back Pages, says the song is "an 11-minute epic of entropy, which takes the form of a Fellini-esque parade of grotesques and oddities featuring a huge cast of iconic characters, some historical (Einstein, Nero), some biblical (Noah, Cain and Abel), some fictional (Ophelia, Romeo, Cinderella), some literary (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound), and some who fit into none of the above categories, notably Dr. Filth and his dubious nurse.
4. Echoes – Pink Floyd (23:30) Probably my favorite Floyd song. I love the sound effects of the submarine pulse mixed in the background. This is the first time where Pink Floyd sounds like the “classic Floyd” most listeners are familiar with. There are sound effects, long spacy musical passages dominated by Richard Wright’s organ and a slightly funky middle break-down featuring a classic David Gilmour guitar solo.
5. Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys - Traffic (11:44) Steve Winwood is a musical treasure. Musically, this is one of his most interesting songs with its sparse arrangement and slow deliberate pace alternating with a double-time densely layered pop chorus. The song has a veeery cool repeated piano riff in D Minor, that becomes a hypnotic groove.
6. Maggot Brain – Funkadelic ( 10:21) Maybe the best recorded rock guitar solo done in one take. Eddie Hazel is the one of greatest unknown rock guitarists. According to the legend, George Clinton, under the influence of LSD, told Eddie Hazel during the recording session to imagine he had been told his mother was dead, but then learned that it was not true. The result was the 10-minute guitar solo for which Hazel is most fondly remembered by many music critics and fans. Though several other musicians began the track playing, Clinton soon realized how powerful Hazel's solo was and faded them out so that the focus would be on Hazel's guitar. Critics have described the solo as "lengthy, mind-melting" and "an emotional apocalypse of sound."
7. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 1-5) – Pink Floyd (13:30) This is a no brainer.
8. Supper’s Ready – Genesis (22:50) From their LP Foxtrot, a plum from Peter Gabriel's weird genius. I heard this for the first time when I was 14 and I’d never heard anything this cool, this weird and this apocalyptic. And I still haven’t. It was based on an event when Peter Gabriel’s wife was put into a trance and Peter was so freaked out by the experience he wrote this song. Through the years my interpretation of the song has changed as I matured. My most recent interpretation is: a spiritual journey of two lovers who lose their way in life and wander aimlessly for the rest of their days but are ultimately reunited in the “New Jerusalem” (heaven).
9. Telegraph Road – Dire Straits (14:21) Inspired by a bus trip taken by Mark Knopfler, the lyrics narrate a tale of changing land development over a span of many decades along Telegraph Road in suburban Detroit, Michigan. In the latter verses, Knopfler focuses on one man's personal struggle with unemployment after the city built around the telegraph road has become uninhabited and barren just as it began. One of Knopfler’s massive cinematic-scope compositions. Contains the great lyric line: “run all the red lights down Memory Lane.”
10. 2112 – Rush (20:33) Rush’s first flexing of their musical muscles. Love Alex Lifeson's power chords. Still the greatest Rush song of all time.