Define “epic.” For classic literature fans, this can represent something like Dante’s Divine Comedy or Homer’s Odyssey; for rock music fans, the term is much less absolute. To us, one person might use “epic” as the go-to compliment for anything that makes them want to crank the volume knob to its most extreme clockwise position and go crazy. Whereas others may consider “epic” solely on the length of the song or its storytelling subject matter, particularly when discussing progressive rock, jazz fusion, jam bands, avant garde, black metal, or the like.
There are obvious references to pinpoint, bands such as Rush or Pink Floyd, and though they do make appearances here, my list today comes courtesy of a much wider variety. I tried my best not to place the majority of this list in any substantial order around significance, because I hold every selection and honorable mention in the highest regard. That being said, I avoided some of the more given song choices and brought you a collective that really shows what it takes to make a song longer than 10 minutes truly stick with you.
From blues to prog, from protest to parody, here are some of my personal favorite songs at over 10 minutes in length. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below at your own risk. As a noted aside, some of these entries are dedicated to those who have inspired my eclecticism over the years.
The whole of this project is dedicated respectfully to my great grandparents — you’ve lived long and fruitful lives, and this one’s for you. Thanks for the model car when I was a little boy, it’s been well taken care of. I promise, one of these days, I’ll drive a nice yellow ’64 Thunderbird, I’ll crank up the Johnny Cash, and think of you both all the way down I-40 in search of my own dreams.
Opeth – “To Bid You Farewell” (10:56)
When it comes to long songs, we have our pick of Opeth‘s repertoire; this Swedish metal band has enough on Deliverance and Morningrise alone to comprise a list by themselves. That being said, it was simply favoritism and a roll of the dice that brought me “To Bid You Farewell”, a brooding track suited for any funeral procession you can fathom.
Similar in musical style to the majority of a later release, Damnation, “To Bid You Farewell” is an absolutely beautiful song through and through with no bad traits at all. If for no other reasons, I included it as a nod to a spectacular band and a reminder that dark romanticism is not dead by a long shot, at least in the musical sense.