So I was thinking recently about compiling a list of "epic" rock songs. What do I mean by "epic"? In this case, I'm talking about lengthy songs (usually five minutes or longer) that have a lot of musical changes or actual movements, where different parts of the song have a different feel and tone. Lyrically there may be a discernible story, but there may not be as well. 

Here's my list so far, in no particular order:

Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin

Bohemian Rhapsod - Queen

Aqualung - Jethro Tull

Paranoid Android - Radiohead

Street Hassle - Lou Reed

Riot - Dead Kennedys

Killing In The Name - Rage Against the Machine

Starship Trooper - Yes

Green Grass and High Tides - The Outlaws

In the Presence of Enemies PT. 2 - Dream Theater

One - Metallica

Martian Boogie - Brownsville Station

Autobahn - Kraftwerk

The End - The Doors

Supper's Ready - Genesis

A Quick One (While He's Away)

An Hour In the Shower - Chicago

Paradise By The Dashboard Light - Meat Loaf

Rat Trap - Boomtown Rats

The Murder Mystery - The Velvet Underground

Brown Shoes Don't Make It - The Mothers Of Invention

Karn Evil 9 - Emerson Lake and Palmer

Band on the Run - Wings

Any thoughts on others? 

One song per artist. 

It needs to be one long song, not a number of short songs stitched together. No medley. 

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Supper's Ready - Genesis. It takes up most of side 2 (when albums had sides) of Foxtrot.

Is it one song or a collection, that's up to you.

My apologies if I'm not responding quickly towards everyone's suggestions. Many of the songs being suggested are ones I'm unfamiliar with, which means I have to listen to them in order to make a judgment. Considering also that many if these songs are over ten minutes in length means that listening can take awhile as well. I do plan to get around to all suggestions however. 

Let's not forget about Epic by Faith No More.

Pink Floyd should be represented somewhere, but I'm tempted to nominate the entire Dark Side of the Moon album, which doesn't fit Randy's criteria. To that end, I have started a list of Albums as Cohesive Works I hope you will add to.

"Telegraph Road" by Dire Straits from their Love Over Gold album. A run time of more than 14 minutes about urban progress/development and the ensuing affect on peoples lives.

Apparently I have not explained myself well. 

To give everyone an example of what I'm looking for, let me use as an example Bohemian Rhapsody. 

The song opens with sort of a mock opera section, then turns into a rock ballad, laying out the situation of the story. The slower tempo makes if easy to understand the words. 

Then the song segues back into opera, and we get the trial of our protagonist. He's frightened and asks his mother to assist in his defense, but to no avail. 

The song then becomes an angry, defiant uptempo rock song, as our protagonist rejects everything with his only thought being escape. This is highlighted with the abngry guitars and increase in tempo. 

Finally, to end the song, the protagonist accepts his fate as we return the song to ballad tempo. 

So this song can be said to have four distinct movements musically. Yet it's still the same song throughout. 

I'm rejecting medleys not because I dislike them but because if you break them down, they are separate songs with different ideas behind them. They might flow well together, but at the end of the day they are separate. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Your "no medley" criterion keeps bumping up against your stipulation that each song must have "a lot of musical changes or actual movements, where different parts of the song have a different feel and tone."

I almost didn't suggest "A Quick One" because it wasn't "epic" enough but, based on your clarification above, it should be very similar to (if not exactly) the kind of song you are looking for.

A Quick One While He's Away

An Hour in the Shower by Chicago

I. A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast

II. Off to Work

III. Fallin' Out

IV. Dreamin' Home

V. Morning Blues Again

Symphony for the Devil / Sympathy for the Devil by Blood, Sweat and Tears

I. Emergence

     A. Fanfare

II. Devil's Game

     A. Labyrinth

     B. Satan's Dance

     C. The Demand

III. Submergence

     A. Contemplation

     B. Return

If those are more along the lines of what you are looking for, I've got more. 


Dave Palmer said:

Martian Boogie by Brownsville Station

Autobahn by Kraftwerk

Added The End

Many of the other suggestions here are what I would call extended hams, particularly Inna Gadda Da Vida, where the musicians take turns soloing but the musical theme never changes. 

There's already a Led Zeppelin song, so while Kashmir fits, I'm leaving it off the list. 

The Merman song wasn't quite what I was looking for, and while I'm curious about Voodoo Chile, it seems difficult to find a recording of that song which is not the same as Voodoo Chiod(Slight Return). If f you have a link, let me know. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly

"25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago

"Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream

"The End" by The Doors

"1983 (A Merman I should Turn to Be)" or "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix

"Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin

Smile (the whole album) by Brian Wilson

That's a start.

I think a lot of Avenged Sevenfold songs would fit, but I think A Little Piece of Heaven is the best at meeting Randy's criteria.

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