Top Ten Longest Rock Songs To Ring In The Summer Solstice

Back in November of 1971,Led Zeppelin’s record label, Atlantic, released a promotional single of “Stairway to Heaven” to radio stations. At 8 minutes long, it found occasional late-night play on AM radio. But, on FM, long was strong and the record was a “hit.”

With that as inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Longest Rock Songs to coincide with the longest day of the year – the summer solstice. This year, the solstice happens on June 20th in Los Angeles at 10:04 p.m., while in most of the world it still occurs on Friday, June 21st.

According to CBS LA, the summer solstice is the “moment when the Earth’s orbital motion points the Earth’s North Pole most closely in the direction of the Sun,”  thus resulting in extended daylight. So to celebrate the official start of summer, ring in the longest day of the year with some of the longest song ever recorded!

10. “Pirates”/Emerson Lake & Palmer (13:20)

Abandoning the science-fiction themes of earlier lengthy numbers such as “Tarkus” and “Karn Evil 9,” “Pirates” is a swashbuckling tale of adventure on the high seas based almost entirely on pirate movies. Inspirational lyric line: “Fill the night with paradise/Bring me peach and peacock til I burst.” (JA)

9. “157 Riverside Avenue”/REO Speedwagon (12:27)

We pretty much barred live cuts from consideration because we didn’t want a list of ten 65-minute Grateful Dead songs. But, here’s the exception: Before they kept on lovin’ you, REO were one of the better boogie bands on the rock and roll circuit, witnessed here. (MV)

8. “Loan Me a Dime”/Boz Scaggs (12:31)

Recorded in 1969 with a then-unknown Duane Allman on lead guitar, “Loan Me a Dime” got Boz sued by blues singer Fenton Robinson, who claimed the right to a composer credit, which he received. Produced by Rolling Stone founder/publisher Jann Wenner. (JA)

7. “The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet”/The Mothers of Invention (12:22)

Freak Out! was the debut album by Zappa and the Mothers. One of the first “concept” albums, one of the first double albums and, supposedly, an influence on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, Freak Out! closed with this freak out, subtitled “Unfinished Ballet in Two Tableaux.” Like cheese, it was probably tastier at the time of its release but still stands up with age (though it takes courage to imbibe). (MV)

6. “Kuiama”/Electric Light Orchestra (11:19)

From Electric Light Orchestra II, released in 1973, and the longest track ELO ever recorded. A remarkably depressing number about the experiences of a soldier and a war orphan he meets, presumably in Vietnam. (JA)

5. “Gypsy Woman”/Tim Buckley (12:19)

Pure 1969, a song ripe with the sounds and smells of cross-legged hippies sitting around living rooms and communes, drinking sangria and grooving to the moment, baby. The album where it was found, Happy Sad, was far more experimental than his previous records; even some mellow back-then hippies got a little pissed about it all. (MV)

4. “Lady of the Lake”/Starcastle (10:28)

Central Illinois prog rock that makes the flightiest Yes lyric sound like Hemingway: “melting golden flesh is cracked and spilled in garden-circles grown of me.” An edited version bubbled under the Hot 100 singles chart in 1976. (JA)

3. “Sister Ray”/Velvet Underground (17:27)

What is there to say about the consummate blend of punk, psychedelia and noise rock? At nearly 18 minutes, it’s like a rock that rolls down a long, steep hill before crashing full-speed into Andy Warhol’s Factory. (MV)

2. “Yours Is No Disgrace”/Yes (9:36)

In which Yes puts the rock in prog rock as effectively as they ever did on anything this side of “Roundabout.” From The Yes Album, which contains another epic running nine minutes plus, “Starship Trooper.”

1. “The Ikon”/Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (30:22)

Jazz fusion, spaced out country, Koln Concert piano improvisations, pure prog throughout…all in one 30-minute “song!” (MV)

Here’s Part 1:


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