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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I'm too lazy to do links, and we're doing rock songs.

Starship Trooper - Yes

Achilles Last Stand - Led Zeppelin

2112 - Rush - there maybe some push back on this

Hotel California - The Eagles

Green Grass and High Tides - The Outlaws

A lot of Dream Theater

Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull (Pretty much the whole album)

Something on Quadrophenia by The Who must qualify (or the whole thing). "5:15"?

"A Day in the Life" by The Beatles? (Two stories/movements)

Days of Future Passed, the Moody Blues ("The Day Begins"/”Dawn Is a Feeling”/”The Morning: Another Morning”/”Lunch Break: Peak Hour”/”The Afternoon”/”Evening”/”The Sunset”/”Twilight Time”/”Nights in White Satin”/”Late Lament”)

"Medley" or "The Long One" by The Beatles on Abbey Road ("You Never Give Me Your Money/"Sun King"/"Mean Mr. Mustard"/”Polythene Pam”/"She Came In Through the Bathroom Window"/"Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End”)

"Can't You Hear Me Knocking" (Rolling Stones)

"Monkey Man" (Rolling Stones)

I don't know if these meet your criteria, but they're all long favorites of mine.

I added Starship Trooper and Grern Grass and High Tides 

I didn't add Achilles Last Stand or Hotel California. While they are long, they don't change much musically. 

I'm not big into Rush. Is 2112 considered to be a song or a side of an album? 

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

I'm too lazy to do links, and we're doing rock songs.

Starship Trooper - Yes

Achilles Last Stand - Led Zeppelin

2112 - Rush - there maybe some push back on this

Hotel California - The Eagles

Green Grass and High Tides - The Outlaws

A lot of Dream Theater

It would be easy to load this list up with 70s prog-rock songs, as it's likely many qualify I'm not an expert of that sort of thing, although I do have some familiarity. 

I think I'd like to keep it to one song per artist, so I'm leaving out Thick as. A Brick. 

I'm sure the Who have a song that would qualify, maybe on Quadrophenia or Tommy. I know they did their share of mini-operas/medleys

I'll have to listen to the Moody Blues song to make a decision. 

I'm actually leaning awzy from medleys like The Long One, as I tend to think of those as separate songs linked together rather than one coherent piece. 

I have to listen to the Rolling Stones songs. I'm sure I've heard them before, but I need to refresh my memory. 

Captain Comics said:

Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull (Pretty much the whole album)

Something on Quadrophenia by The Who must qualify (or the whole thing)

"A Day in the Life" by The Beatles? (Two stories/movements)

Days of Future Passed, the Moody Blues ("The Day Begins"/”Dawn Is a Feeling”/”The Morning: Another Morning”/”Lunch Break: Peak Hour”/”The Afternoon”/”Evening”/”The Sunset”/”Twilight Time”/”Nights in White Satin”/”Late Lament”)

"Medley" or "The Long One" by The Beatles on Abbey Road ("You Never Give Me Your Money/"Sun King"/"Mean Mr. Mustard"/”Polythene Pam”/"She Came In Through the Bathroom Window"/"Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End”)

"Can't You Hear Me Knocking" (Rolling Stones)

"Monkey Man" (Rolling Stones)

I don't know if these meet your criteria, but they're all long favorites of mine.

This may not go on your list, but it's definitely on mine: Heart, doing "Silver Wheels/Crazy on You," with a touch of "Hijinx" thrown in:


Geez, how could I forget the Moody Blues? The first box set is the first I ever got!

My only argument for Hotel California (which we what we are here for, right? hahaha) is that it goes from slow to slower.

I understand you wanting to limit to one song per artist. So then I would say: Pull Me Under by Dream Theater, their most popular song by far. (Although I prefer "In the Presence of my Enemies pt. 2)

While Metallica has a lot of great of great songs that fit this criteria, IMO. I would say One is their best in this context.

I'm sure I will have more to add.

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..

The only thing wrong is that it's a medley, not one song. 

ClarkKent_DC said:

This may not go on your list, but it's definitely on mine: Heart, doing "Silver Wheels/Crazy on You," with a touch of "Hijinx" thrown in:


Added In the Presence of Enemies PT 2 - Dream Theater and One - Metallica. 

While Hotel California does get slower at the end, it's definitely still the same song as it started. Contrast that with Street Hassle, which while the sbg structure stays the same, by changing up the instrumentation and vocal styles it divides itself into three dulistonct parts. 

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Geez, how could I forget the Moody Blues? The first box set is the first I ever got!

My only argument for Hotel California (which we what we are here for, right? hahaha) is that it goes from slow to slower.

I understand you wanting to limit to one song per artist. So then I would say: Pull Me Under by Dream Theater, their most popular song by far. (Although I prefer "In the Presence of my Enemies pt. 2)

While Metallica has a lot of great of great songs that fit this criteria, IMO. I would say One is their best in this context.

I'm sure I will have more to add.

Martian Boogie by Brownsville Station

Autobahn by Kraftwerk

"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.

ClarkKent_DC said:

This may not go on your list, but it's definitely on mine: Heart, doing "Silver Wheels/Crazy on You," with a touch of "Hijinx" thrown in:



Randy Jackson said:

The only thing wrong is that it's a medley, not one song. 

Okay, then ... how's about "Barracuda"?

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