In an era where attention spans have dwindled and most listeners buy the single and skip through an album, it's a bit incredible that the concept of the "epic track" has survived at all, let alone flourished - everything nowadays is quick and disposable. The average listener doesn't have the patience to sit through an album with themes and storylines so they just download the three-minute radio single and leave the rest. The idea of such a listener embracing a song that goes on for three, four, or even five times as long as those bite-sized radio singles is almost laughable, and it seems like modern record labels would therefore be actively discouraging artists from aiming for epic track lengths. And yet, instead of disappearing, the long song format has flourished. In 2012, the two most critically-acclaimed albums of the year Kendrick Lamar's "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City" and Frank Ocean's "Channel ORANGE" had centerpiece songs that surpassed nine minutes in length. And last year, it seemed like every artist from Daft Punk to Justin Timberlake to Arcade Fire was pushing track-length averages into the six, seven, or eight-minute territory, all in an effort to turn their album releases into important events that would generate buzz and sell records. But the best songs derived from the epic track format aren't devices to announce import or ambition. A great eight or nine-minute song should be an artist's way of sweeping listeners into a narrative adventure, a sonic trance, a poetic swirl, or a singular musical orbit. With that thought in mind, I've compiled 10 tracks each of them over eight minutes in length that I think make full use of their inflated runtimes. A truly successful epic track builds a world of its own, and from classic rock stars to modern folkies, each of the songs on this list does just that.
Craig is a Chicago-based freelance writer who like to talk incessantly about music on AbsolutePunk.net. He also does writing for marketing companies to "pay the bills," but his true passion lies with the pop culture sphere.