The Long & Short of it: Best in Popular Music

XTC - Travels to Nihilon - love the drama in it, it’s like a mantra, with a bass riff that never wavers, never travels elsewhere else. Andy’s playing octaves on the guitar, Daves throwing in clashing chords, and it’s just so damned brutal and severe. Like a pessimistic “Tomorrow Never Knows”

It should really be shouted at the top of your lungs for the proper effect.

And because I just thought of it, Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull for long song. The song is 43:50 long and comprised the entire album:

It might technically break the continuous song rule, but it is only in 2 parts because those are the two sides of the album.


Figured the best move was to just let everyone do that in their own minds. :rofl:


I looked up what are the longest and shortest songs ever recorded.

The longest: “The Rise and Fall of Bossa Nova” by PC III. 13 hours, 23 minutes, 32 seconds. It’s all on YouTube, in several parts.

The shortest: “You Suffer” by Napalm Death, 1.316 seconds.

The below is probably my favorite song over 10 minutes. Others on that list are “Jenny Ondioline” by Stereolab (18:08), “Mmm Skyscraper I Love You” by Underworld (13:09), “The End” by The Doors (11:42), “Ashes Are Burning” by Renaissance (11:22), “Xanadu” by Rush (11:11), “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” by Elton John (11:10), “Big City” by Spacemen 3 (10:47), and “Sheep” by Pink Floyd (10:20).


TMBG meant Fingertips to be played by setting the player to random play so those 21 little tracks play between the other tracks on that album.


This far and no “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly? It’s sometimes fun to just sit down and get into it (no drugs). I’ve used it on headphones while watching the 4th of July fireworks on TV. This year I’ve found that and “America” by The Nice (also 1968) fill up the whole fireworks time! Next year, if we don’t go in person locally, I’m playing them in the reverse order. I checked, and that song also qualifies for long song here.

A lot of songs mentioned already work for me, but another counts as well: “When the Music’s Over” by the Doors (the “The End” listed above reminded me of it).

Outside of classic rock, one of my favorites is the long album version of “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. Somewhat related is “Love to Love You, Baby” (Donna Summer). While I ultimately prefer the proper single version as heard in 1975, it’s fun once in a blue moon to listen to the full album version. Definitely different editing there.

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Interesting, I’d only heard the radio edit… but here it is, all 18 minutes of it.

My favorite songs under 2:00? How about this mismatched pair?

Others: “A Groovy Kind of Love” by The Mindbenders; “Particle Man” by TMBG; “Didm’t Leave Nobody But the Baby” by Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus & Gillian Welch (from O Brother Where Art Thou?); “1 2 X U” by Wire; “Embryonic Journey” by Jefferson Airplane; “Breaking Glass” by Bowie; “Strangled By the Stereo Wire” by Archers of Loaf; “Judy Is a Punk” by the Ramones; “Horn” by Nick Drake, and “Velocity Girl” by Primal Scream.

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My favorite long:

My second favorite longest:
Advent: One Winged Angel (Complete ver.):

I’m sure this doesn’t count as popular music, but the shortest song I first listened to several months ago, was the NHK show Quintet’s version of Flight of the Bumblebee.

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Opinions vary around these parts about the greatness or otherwise of Bruce Springsteen, but for me this is bliss and the reason the saxophone was invented:

And for something completely different, but equally brilliant:

I read a comment once that every time you hear this song is like hearing it for the first time anew, and another that said it is impossible to get sick of hearing this song, and I agree with both wholeheartedly.

From another Manchester band, the closing track of probably my favourite album of all time:

Same era, different city, less than 90 seconds and every one of them sublime:

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It looks like we have made it this far without mentioning “American Pie”, so I certainly won’t break that streak.

There should be a few long form Dylan songs. My favorite is

This used to be the shortest record ever to reach #1 on the charts. I don’t know if that is still true.


Speaking of the mighty Bob, while his 5 minute “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” is under the 6-minute limit, at 9:12 Nazareth’s nightmare fueled cover is a worthy addition to the list

Same song, sounds a little warmer


[raises hand]

I love popular songs!!


As short songs go, I’ve always been partial to The Monkees’ “Riu Chiu”. Yes, it’s 1:32 so it barely misses the minute and a half cutoff, but close enough for government work.

What stands out to me is how great they sound a cappella. Especially since they weren’t really a band, right? :laughing:


Yeah, that’ a pretty one, and it’s only a few seconds over the limit.

Heck people have been breaking that rule left and right (I did leave the door open by saying don’t over 2… and we have at least one over 2… which in my opinion is just a Ramones song, and not short in the least) :wink:

Speaking of which

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You have company in your appreciation for this song. And not just me, either –

In a 2012 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Peter Tork revealed his admiration for “Riu Chiu.”

“I would say my favorite song we ever did was ‘Riu Chiu.’ It’s an a cappella song, all in Spanish, that we did only once before TV cameras, and the harmony blend was perfect. It’s totally crackerjack!”

Also, watch the video and observe the looks on Peter’s and Davy’s faces as they appreciate how flawlessly Mickey is singing his part. Mickey Dolenz is one of the most underappreciated voices in rock. He could really sing.


Moving down… favorite song between 9:00 and 9:59…

Keith Moon’s last show. :pensive:

Others: “Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf; “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus; “The Private Psychedelic Reel” by Chemical Brothers; “Halcyon & On & On” by Orbital; “Starship Trooper” by Yes; “The Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson.


So, back in the day, I’d heard the single version of this song on the radio a few times and kinda liked it as a quirky change of musical pace.

But then one morning, on the old KFOG radio station in SF, this song was played and instead of the usual fade out, it went on. And on. And on. I can’t remember another time since when a song on the radio made me stop what I was doing, sit down and devote my total attention to it. I just had to see where this song was going.

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Here’s a couple of snarky snippets to add to the pile. (I don’t think they’ve ever collaborated. A pity.)


A little Devo for the holidays

Cotton Mather, from one of my favorite albums

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