Five fantastic long songs that you never want to end

These songs still end too soon.
Michael Putland/GettyImages
1 of 5

Last time, we looked at long songs. Five pop songs spread across multiple genres that all stretched the boundaries of run time past the eight-minute mark. But, since we were only looking at ”long” songs, we stopped at ten minutes.

Today, we move on to “longer” songs. These run over ten minutes. We’re stopping today at 14 minutes. That’s somewhat arbitrary. I do find that with some imagination, a talented songwriter can stretch a single idea out to about 14 minutes without switching gears into long stretches of untethered jamming.

To be sure, these songs all have some serious jams going on. It’s not easy to fill ten-plus minutes with lyrics upon lyrics. Well, not unless you’re a multi-voice crew who shares the vocal load. Then again, even Flatbush Zombies had to fill the second half of “Ýour Favorite Rap Song” with spoken word testimonials.

But I digress. 

Five really long songs that do not seem long enough

Interesting factoid – these songs mostly come from the ‘70s – or at least from the years in close enough proximity to be considered ‘70s. And they tend to be generic hyphenates. Meaning that though each may be associated with a specific genre of music, they really go beyond the simple generic label.

Sometimes, this can lead to violent disagreements between friends about classification, but I will try to avoid that in the following few pages. I’ll just stick to the songs. I suppose that if you are going to stretch your tune out past the ten-minute mark, it pays to take a broader view – to maybe try out a few different flavors in the service of something new.

“YOUTH OF AMERICA” by The Wipers – 1981 (10:30)

The legendary Portland punks closed their second album with this epic title track. Considering that their entire first album fit 12 songs into 34 minutes, devoting ten-and-a-half minutes to a single number seems like a bit of a change in direction. The move was intentional. Greg Sage, the heart and soul of the Wipers, rarely followed the pack.

“Youth of America" could easily have concluded its business in four minutes. By then, Sage had made his rallying call to the segment of society that was about to be trampled by the Reagan revolution. He had left some room for a guitar workout and a final return to the chorus for the expected fadeout.

Only he doesn’t fade out. Instead, a buzzing drone pushes forward. Sage’s guitar eventually pokes its head back out, leading into a stretch of spoken word poetry and a trip to psychedelia-land. Eventually, the song returns for a final two minutes of anthemic chanting. It is interesting. It is hypnotic. It is different. You can just feel Kurt Cobain absorbing the sounds, and Billy Joe Armstrong succumbing to the message. You can hear post-punk and grunge germinating.