Five fantastic long songs that you never want to end

These songs still end too soon.
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“THE END” by The Doors – 1967 (11:41)

There’s a bit of a chicken and egg debate that occurs depending on how you first heard this song. Is it so evocative because of the way it opens up the nightmare of Saigon in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now? Or is that evocative quality the reason Coppola chose it? Bit of both perhaps. There’s no denying that the movie pushed the song to a new cultural plane, but the song would have stood out regardless. The music, the poetry, the length – they all challenged preconceived notions of what a pop song was supposed to be in 1967.

Morrison’s doomsday lyrics – “This is the end, beautiful friend – This is the end, my only friend, the end – Of our elaborate plans, the end – Of everything that stands, the end” – have been justly recognized for their depth of sorrow, and his taboo incestuous shriek has been analyzed for fifty-plus years now. What continues to strike me all these years later is how his three bandmates – Robby Krieger on guitar, Ray Manzarek on keyboards, and John Densmore on drums – seem at times to be playing three different songs.

And yet they miraculously seem to coalesce at just the right moment to keep the song coherent throughout all its wild twists and turns. Kreiger’s solo and fills are the height of psychedelia, and the drums and keyboards are running on parallel tracks. It is the ultimate twelve-minute trip.