Friday, 21 June 2013

My Top Ten Longest Songs

As today is the longest day of the year, I thought I'd try something different. Rather than my favourite songs on any particular subject, these are simply the longest tracks in my music player. I've discounted any that were lengthy due to a huge block of silence before a "hidden" track at the end of an album. Each of these really are as long as they say they are...

10. The Hours - See The Light

14 minutes, 17 seconds.

Title track from the second (and last?) Hours album, the full LP version clocks in at just under quarter of an hour. A much shorter version was released as a single, remixed by Calvin Harris (i.e. not as good) and featuring Sienna Miller going bonkers in the video.

9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Babe, I'm On Fire

14 minutes, 46 seconds.

Everyone says it, from the horse and the pig to the judge in his wig, the blind referee and unlucky amputee to the giant killer bee landing on my knee... and so on and so on and so on...

See also the majestic O'Malley's Bar which clocks in at a mighty 14 minutes 28 seconds and remains one of my all-time favourite Nick Cave recordings.

8. Spiritualized - Cop Shoot Cop...

16 minutes, 12 seconds.

From an album that originally came sealed in a huge, CD-shaped blister pack that you had to pop open / tear the foil before you could play the record. The track is listed as being 17 minutes 13 seconds long but it actually ends at 16' 12" before a minute's silence. Which is nice.

7. Joni Mitchell - Paprika Plains

16 minutes, 19 seconds.

Side 2 of the album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Mitchell apparently improvised the piano on the initial recording of this epic before adding orchestral flourishes to the finished mix. It's the sort of record you have to turn the lights down and listen to from start to finish... the sort of record our attention-span deficit way of listening to music these days means we'll rarely see the like of again.

6. George Gershwin - An American In Paris / Rhapsody In Blue

16 minutes, 34 seconds.

I left out the classical music from this countdown (yes, there is some in my collection!) as it would have unfairly dominated. I couldn't exclude Gershwin however, that wonderful bridge between classical and pop. There are various versions of An American In Paris (many full orchestra versions are over 18 minutes) but I stuck with the Gershwin Plays Gershwin version I own, though the one on youtube isn't quite up to mine.

Even better is Rhapsody In Blue at 14 minutes, 24 seconds... sheer bliss!

5. Neil Young - Ordinary People 

18 minutes, 12 seconds.

From the album Chrome Dreams II, which also features the 14 minute, 33 second No Hidden Path, which would have squeezed its way onto this chart had I not restricted myself to one long song per artist.

4. Love - Revelation

19 minutes, 4 seconds.

The whole of Side 2 of Love's second album is this one track. Originally named John Lee Hooker, it's pretty much Arthur Lee and mates jamming in the studio till the tape runs out, though the title suggests it has something in common with our Number One song too.

3. Sonic Youth - The Diamond Sea

19 minutes, 36 seconds.

From the album Washing Machine. A five and a half minute single edit was released also (along with a 26 minute "alternative ending" version that would have put this at Number One, except I don't own that version). A pretty cool song, though the last ten minutes is largely piano and feedback, so all in all I'll stick with the single.

2. Paddy McAloon - I Trawl The Megahertz

22 minutes, 6 seconds.

I'm a huge Prefab Sprout fan, so when I first heard Paddy's solo album, I was slightly disappointed. It's very different from the Sprout, but I guess that's the point. Paddy only actually sings on one song and the title track features a story poem narrated by Yvonne Connors. It's a haunting listen, made all the more poignant when you realise it reflects McAloon's worsening eye condition and the lonely nights he spent with only voices on the radio for company.

1. Genesis - Supper's Ready 

22 minutes, 54 seconds.

Originally from the album Foxtrot, though my copy comes from the 3-disc Platinum Collection. To be honest, I've only listened to this all the way through a couple of times. It's interesting in places, but perhaps a little bit too prog even for me. Gabriel described it as, "a personal journey that ends up walking through [The Book of Revelation]". Amusingly though, it all begins with him walking across his sitting room and turning off the telly...

Of course, it's not the length that matters, it's what you do with it.

What's your longest song?


  1. All I can manage is Fields of the Nephilim "Psychonaut" coming in at 9 mins 10 seconds.

    1. Yeah, but 9 minutes of FotN is like 9 hours of some bands. ;-)

  2. I was thinking freebird live but it only just creeps in at 14:23.

    Telegraph road then I thought...nope only 14:18.


    So I simply throw Tubular Bells out there probably to be disqualified!

    I'm more of a 2 minuter myself which is great now we are all getting older!

    1. 2 minutes? Do you play them twice in that time?

      I did expect to get to Dire Straits or Meat Loaf before the Ten was done.

      And yes, Tubular Bells is disqualified for so many different reasons.

  3. So just how do you work out which are the longest tracks unless you look album by album? I have 'And I will kiss' by Underworld (featuring Dame Evelyn Glennie) coming in at 17.15, and I know exactly what I was doing at every moment as that played during the Olympic Opening ceremony...

    1. I access my music through Windows Media Player. Using that, you can choose the order the songs are listed in based on whichever column you click. So if you click title, it orders all the songs alphabetically by title (or, with a second click, reverse alphabetically). Same if you click artist. If you click the Length column though, it orders them all in length - longest or shortest first.

      I wouldn't be surprised if there's not a few more Underworld songs that stretch towards the 20 minute mark.

  4. I just asked HWMBO who immediately came up with Viides Luku–Hävitetty and Tulimyrsky (as you do!)

    Both Moonsorrow

    Jäästä syntynyt/Varjojen virta is 30:10

    and Tulimyrsky is 29:45

    apparently they only play part of them when playing live.

    Yes he does listen to this shit (constantly!)


    1. I'm going to have to take your word on all of that!

  5. I just checked, and my longest song is Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew," at 27:00! Runner-ups include "2112" (20:34) and "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" (18:08), both by Rush.

    Also high up are songs by Pink Floys and a few more from Rush and Miles Davis. It looks like jazz and prog rock are the winners this day!

  6. Well, I suppose if I'm allowed Gershwin, you're allowed Miles David.

    And I'm kinda glad there's less prog in my own collection if only because that would surely have dominated this Top Ten otherwise!

  7. The longest song I know is "Six Degrees Of Inner turbulence" by Dream Theater, it's only over 40 minutes long (it really is look it up).


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