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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Good to know. It's your list but, FWIW, I agree. That's why I've had such a difficult time nominating a Pink Floyd song; it's tough to find one of their vocal "epics" that wouldn't be considered a medley. 

Layla comes close, but it really only has one change. 

Mickey McLaurin said:

"Layla"--Derek and the Dominos

Added Karn Evil 9

Dave Palmer said:

I don't want to overwhelm you, but here are a few more to consider:

Whipping Post Allman Brothers

Papa was a Rolling Stone Temptations

Karn Evil 9 Emerson Lake and Palmer (not my favorite ELP song)

I kind of feel like these are more exrltended jams than what I'm looking for. 

A Pink Floyd song that would work would be The Trial. Unfortunately, I don't consider it rock and roll. 

doc photo said:

A couple of suggestions from Pink Floyd that I don't think have been mentioned yet -

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Echoes"

"I kind of feel like these are more extended jams than what I'm looking for."

Yeah, I can see that. I almost came back and deleted that post but I thought I'd leave the determination up to you. I'm just sorry to have wasted your time. To make it up to you, I'm going to nominate a song I feel certain will qualify.

BAND ON THE RUN by Paul McCartney & Wings

1. "Stuck inside these four walls..."

2. "If I ever get out of here..."

3. [LINK]

4. "Well the rain exploded with a mighty crash..."

Band on the Run is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. Didn't even have to listen to that one. Added. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"I kind of feel like these are more extended jams than what I'm looking for."

Yeah, I can see that. I almost came back and deleted that post but I thought I'd leave the determination up to you. I'm just sorry to have wasted your time. To make it up to you, I'm going to nominate a song I feel certain will qualify.

BAND ON THE RUN by Paul McCartney & Wings

1. "Stuck inside these four walls..."

2. "If I ever get out of here..."

3. [LINK]

4. "Well the rain exploded with a mighty crash..."

YAY!

Earlier in this thread I nominated Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" but I later took it down. I think a could could still be made for its inclusion, but I think I've found a Springsteen song that works better.

ROSALITA (Come Out Tonight)

1. Youthful exuberance

2. LINK (beginning with "All right" at 3:18)

3. Introspection (beginning with "I know your mama she don't like me" at 4:18)

4. Resolution and return (beginning with "My tires were slashed" at 5:18)

(At one time, at just over seven minutes, the live version of this song was longest video MTV played.)

I think that might be it from me. Some of the others I had in mind are by groups already included.

I unexpectedly woke up early and thought of a possible entry for the list: "Song for America" by Kansas.

I'm most familiar with it from the classic album Two for the Show, but the version on that album edits out the piano solo in the middle. 

"California Saga" by the Beach Boys should qualify. 

CALIFORNIA SAGA:

  1. Big Sur
  2. The Beaks of Eagles
  3. California

It's from the Holland album, but I can't find a single cut of all three movements. The link above is to the whole album (tracks 3-5). From the same album (actually an additional EP included in addition to the LP) is...

MT. VERNON AND FAIRWAY* (A FAIRY TALE IN SEVERAL PARTS:

  1. Mt. Vernon and Fairway (theme)
  2. I'm the Pied Piper (instrumental)
  3. Better Get Back in Bed
  4. Magic Transistor Radio
  5. I'm the Pied Piper
  6. Radio King Dom

*This is Brian Wilson's autobiography told as a fairy tale. "Mt. Vernon and Fairway" is the intersection where his childhood home was located. 

One obvious other Rush song, from Fly By Night, is "By-Tor and the Snow Dog":

  • I) At the Tobes of Hades
  • II) Across the Styx
  • III) Of the Battle
  •       i. Challenge and Defiance
  •      ii. 7/4 War Furor
  •     iii. Aftermath
  •     iv. Hymn of Triumph
  • IV) Epilogue

It's over eight minutes long. For all of its musical changes and mythic pretensions, its inspiration was a party where the host had two dogs. One had white fur. The other bit people.



Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

So 2112, is weird. Side 1 was a 7 part song if you will. If you wanna kic it out, I'm sure I can find another Rush song..

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