When rock first started to show its nasty side, you knew this wasn't meant to be commercial music by any stretch. These were musicians who thought of their craft much more like a lifestyle, and that meant bringing in long stretches of solos and some of the most epic sounding tunes that the rock world had ever seen. You can't always fit that into a compact single though, and those runtimes started getting stretched out a whole lot more as the years went on.
Going through every single era of rock history, there have always been artists willing to push the boundaries of what the hard rock stripe of music can do, and these songs feel more like sonic statements than actual catchy singles. Though they might use the traditional tropes of what you would find in a hard rock song, there's something else at play here, using them as a means to tell some grand story or showing a different side of their musicianship that you haven't seen before.
It can be a bit tricky pinning these down as hard rock though, with some of them often being relegated to the prog category or the metal end of the spectrum. For as long as these songs lasts though, this is the kind of music that makes you want to raise your fist in the air and break out your air guitar for almost 10 minutes on end.
10. I Want You (She's So Heavy) - The Beatles
There's probably a good contingency of hard rock fans scratching their heads about why the Beatles would populate a list like this. The Fab Four may have certainly done a lot to put rock and roll on the map, but most of their music tended to fall on the more pop-flavored side of the spectrum. That was the first half of their career, and John Lennon gave us something much more savage in the back half of the '60s.
Outside of the different experimental songs that they would get into every now and again, I Want You (She's So Heavy) is fairly bluesy most of the time, taking the standard tropes that you would have found in the blues clubs from around that time and sprinkling some tasty licks over Lennon's melody. What makes this hard rock territory is the main riff that carries the back half of the tune, sounding like the end of the world taking place before your ears before slowing back up and tapping back into bluesy territory.
Once you reach the outro of the song, the riff seems to build to an even bigger climax, as others guitars are overdubbed sounding like some dark monster that's stomping its way across the land. If you had asked John what he was doing at the time, he may have just been trying to be experimental for the hell of it, but there's something more at work here. He may have been messing around, but across 7 minutes, he gave us the basis for doom metal without even trying.