Need some music to play while running the Boston Marathon? Or just waiting for it to end while partying your Marathon Monday away?
…That is, if all these songs can fit on one playlist. Here they are…
Allman Brothers Band – “Mountain Jam”
Need a playlist for your half-hour workout routine? This epic jam from the Allman Brothers Band, made most famous by its appearance on Live at the Fillmore and again on Eat a Peach, stretches over 30 minutes in length, and can take over a playlist all by itself.
Think of anything that takes 30 minutes. This song would make a perfect time-passer for it!
Pink Floyd – “Echoes”
No list of epic rock songs is complete without including Pink Floyd’s 20-plus-minute opus “Echoes.” The beginning and ending sections contain the same familiar controlled melodies and philosophical lyrics familiar to Floyd fans, while the middle section gives it room to breathe…Lots and lots of room.
“Echoes” predated the more well-known Floyd epic “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” which has to get an honorable mention here. Both parts of the Wish You Were Here bookend tracks total over 26 minutes.
Rush – “2112″
Wonder how this song is received 100 years from now…It certainly sounds like rock & roll circa 2112 rather than 1976, starting out with the space-y overture before launching into the second of seven sections.
The first two parts (about 6:45 long) actually made it as a single, while the rest was just there for Rush fans to spin on their record player straight through. This would make a good track to accompany a 20-minute run on a treadmill.
Bob Dylan – “Desolation Row”
Bob Dylan’s closing track to the legendary Highway 61 Revisited clocks in at about 11:21, but it doesn’t contain any extended jam sessions or Rush-like separated sections. It’s really just the same old familiar Dylan.
The lyrics, as usual, are quite vivid and poetic, and in this song’s case very fantastical. He name-drops characters like the Hunchback of Notre Dame all over the place here, and like just about any Dylan song it doesn’t get old thanks to his masterful storytelling.
Led Zeppelin – “Achilles Last Stand”
Unlike most songs of its length (this one is just over 10 minutes long), Led Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand” from Presence doesn’t start slowly or noodle around with effects and atmospherics. It hits the ground running with a galloping beat from John Bonham that echoes previous Zeppelin classics like “Immigrant Song.”
It actually sounds like the guys are taking a cue from Rush here. The rise of prog-rock and heavy metal in the mid-1970s apparently had a big effect on them. Most impressive about “Achilles Last Stand” is that it never lets up throughout its 10-minute run time; it just keeps on rolling.
The Doors – “When the Music’s Over”
This song starts off like the same old familiar Doors with a bouncy melody from Ray Manzarek’s keyboard before the rest of the band joins in. The studio version is just over 10 minutes long, but live versions (like the above clip from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival) stretch it out to 13 minutes or longer.
It’s performances like these that made the Doors a premiere live act by the early-1970s. The performance was spot-on and Jim Morrison’s stage presence and energy dominated the room…or the field, wherever they were playing.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – “Pirates”
Returning to the prog style of earlier songs in this list, Emerson, Lake & Palmer released “Pirates” as almost an entire side of their record Works Volume I. It begins with an orchestral section that legitimately puts any orchestra work on The Wall to shame before gradually building into an actual rock song.
How has no part of this song ever made it into a pirate movie? Probably because most pirate movies stink.
Yes – “Yours Is No Disgrace”
The above version of “Yours is No Disgrace” is from the classic live Yes album Yessongs. The studio version is technically less than 10 minutes long, but it does clock in at about 9:41 – hey, close enough, right? And the live version is almost invariably longer, easily stretching over 13 minutes. So we’re going to let this one count.
Oh yeah, and it’s a pretty great track too. Could be one of the first songs you point to when introducing someone to ’70s prog.
The Velvet Underground – “Sister Ray”
Wondering how highly regarded “Sister Ray” is among Velvet Underground fans? It was almost always the closing song at their live shows. It’s also filled with typically violent and vulgar subject matter, which made the Velvet Underground taboo – and influential – for its time.
It’s mostly just a standard blues-rock affair, driven by a single fuzzed-out guitar riff. But it also contains plenty of improvisations, as the song was recorded in one take and unedited. The band pretty much accepted every bad note or hit. The end result is one of the wildest 17-minute rides in classic rock history. Wait until the end, that’s the most exhilarating part!
Electric Light Orchestra – “Kuiama”
The closing track to ELO 2, the 11-minute “Kuiama” took the Electric Light Orchestra to lengths they’d never reached before – literally. It tells the story of a young girl in the Vietnam war who was found wandering the ruins of her village. For that reason it’s a favorite among the band’s members, as well as the fact that it’s the longest song they ever recorded.
We know these ten songs aren’t the only marathon-length classic rock tunes out there! Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments.