Five amazingly great long songs that still end too soon

These songs still end too soon.
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“JOHN COLTRANE STEREO BLUES” by The Dream Syndicate, 1984 (8:48)

The original studio version “John Coltrane Stereo Blues,” ran 8;48, but Steve Wynn and company have recorded a number of live versions over the years that expand well beyond that original length. It is a marvelous vehicle for free-form swirling guitars to play over the chugging blues rhythm.

And before they added lyrics and codified under its final title, the music was the ultimate jam, coming from some of psychedelia’s most experimental voices. That rhythm section simply keeps pounding on while Wynn and fellow guitarist Karl Precoda go wild. The album track reins this in ever so slightly but remains a furious ride. It grew into the perfect set closer. Wynn and company have been saying good night ever since with the promise to their audiences that “I got some John Coltrane on the stereo, baby” and “it’s gonna be all right.”

“ELEGANT GYPSY SUITE” by Al Di Meola, 1977 (9:16)

We all have our favorites, and for me, Al Di Meola’s “Mediterranean Sundance” is the greatest single piece of guitar music ever created. At just over five minutes, it doesn’t qualify for this list. Fortunately, the rest of Di Meola’s second solo album, Elegant Gypsy, is jam-packed with numbers that are virtually as good.

Di Meola was a prodigy on guitar who attended the famed Berklee College of Music before joining up with the seminal jazz fusion group Return to Forever when he was 20. He perfected his craft playing alongside luminaries like Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke before branching out on his own.

Di Meola was considered a jazz fusionist, but in truth, there was nothing he couldn’t play. From flamenco to blues, jazz, rock, and classical all blended together in one coherent wall of sound. He was as fast as they come, but he was also enormously lyrical in his slower passages, all of which are shown off to great effect on this long composition.

His signature muting technique, which he could pull off without slowing the pace, is also on display as he switches from acoustic to electric and back again. The other tracks on Elegant Gypsy are all worth multiple listenings. This just happens to be the longest.

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