The song lasts for how long?
It might be glib and dismissive to suggest that people today have no attention span, but heck. They don’t. Clicking on a song that lasts longer than a few minutes means concentrating, ignoring Angry Birds and, if it’s not in your headphones that means staying in the same room. And who can be bothered with that?
Actually, I can. I’ve knocked together a list of songs that are over ten minutes in length, but feel like three-minute ditties. Even if they’re slow to start, stick with them and the results will be immeasurably more satisfying than 180 seconds in the company of Bruno Mars. So make sure you’ve got a little while to spare, and indulge…
The Decemberists – The Island/Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter
What this bunch of Portland folkies have done is sew four songs together in order to make a really long one. Sounds a bit like cheating, but by crikey those four songs are good. Keep an ear out for the Final Fantasy VII-style prog breakdown just after the halfway point.
Acid Mother’s Temple – Pink Lady
This one clocks in at just under an hour in total (this clip does a good job of summarising it), so make sure you’re sitting comfortably. And if you are, then prepare for a masterclass in slow-burn persistence. There are three main sections to this mammoth from Japan’s best psychedelic band, but the joy is in feeling them merge into one another. Concentration isn’t really necessary, but acceptance is.
Fela Kuti – Expensive Shit
So the story for this one starts with Fela Kuti in jail. In an attempt to not get the crap knocked out of him for marijuana possession, he eats his stash, which itself was planted on him by the police. Later, when nature takes its course, it occurs to him that this was indeed an Expensive Shit. He manages to steal someone else’s faeces and they all lived happily after. All of this is soundtracked by the most danceable Afrobeat jam imaginable. So yeah, it’s pretty good.
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Storm
This 18-minute stonker might not sound that great on paper. A collective of Canadian musicians (they shun the term ‘activists’, but let’s just say they own their share of long jackets and heavy duty footwear), they recorded this cut alongside three others of similar length for their album entitled Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas Toward Heaven. Obviously. Still, this is perfectly crafted music, gently peaking in folk-orchestral might and languishing in its meekly sallow latter quarter. Put your serious face on and enjoy!
Elton John – Love Lies Bleeding/Funeral For A Friend
It’s not often that Elton John got to exercise his experimental side (costumes and drug-fueled romps notwithstanding), so this expansive opening to the Yellow Brick Road album is something of a novelty. Gently beginning as a Queen-esque synth-orchestral romp, it soon explodes into some surprisingly muscular boogie.
Television – Marquee Moon
This could quite easily be one of the greatest forgotten classics of the punk movement. Or the post-punk movement. Whether they were pre-empting or destroying their peers, Television still managed to create this dazzling centrepiece to the Marquee Moon album. The lyrics are barmy and dark, the guitar solos are unreal and the climax makes the previous nine minutes of toil utterly, utterly worth it.
Traditionally, the easiest way to make a long song is to just repeat the same riff and do squelchy guitar solos over the top of it. Yo La Tengo have clearly heard this maxim somewhere before, seeing as it’s very much a specialty of theirs. This pulsating pre-toilet-visit gut-rumbler is all riff, squelch and fuzz and, therefore, ace.
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