I apologize profusely for that title if your name actually is Floyd. I mean it for someone whose last name is Floyd and whose first name is Pink. That’s right, Pink Floyd, I mean you.
I think you’ll need some back story to find out why I am taking this stance with Pink Floyd. You see I am a larger Yes fan than a Pink Floyd fan.
Back in the late sixties and early seventies it was apparent that rock music was seeking out longer forms of expression. Being on the cutting edge, Yes was by far the band that doubled down the most on this trend. And today they have 9 songs between 18 and 24 minutes in length, two 15 minute songs and so many songs between 7 and 12 minutes in length that they are just too many for me to count.
Pink Floyd dabbled in the lengthy song thing. And then, seizing an opening they claimed a title from Yes. They put out the song Echoes, which is a 23 minute 31 second long song, which approached the absolute most you could have on one vinyl album side without losing sound quality. So Yes let it slide for many a decade. Pink Floyd had the longest song of the prog rock movement.
So the Yes that spoke in term of themes, which was their trick to producing so many fine long format songs, did not have the title. Compact disks entered the playground and could fit a song as long as seventy minutes on it. Indeed, there had been a classical song that was so long it needed almost all of that seventy minutes to be recorded properly.
But back to popular music. During those years of the compact disk’s supremacy, shorter more popularly palatable songs were the vogue. I don’t think that anyone in any rock/pop field exceeded the length of Echoes in their songs.
And here we are in our present day with the tyranny of the vinyl record raising its head again. Vinyl is back and most popular acts want to stay acceptable to that format. So 24 minutes seems to be the very longest that rock and pop will allow for any of its songs. And 2 years ago Yes upped the ante.
Yes put out an album with the Fly From Here suite which encompasses the Fly From Here Overture and Fly From Here parts I to V. This suite clocks in at 23 minutes and 56 seconds.
Now I know that it technically doesn’t say on the album that Fly From Here is one song. But can you imagine Yes’ trepidation? They don’t want to start waving red cloths in front of Pink Floyd. Or the result might be some stretched out, craptastic 24 minute long song that sours the public on long songs forever more.
So Yes claims the title of longest pop/rock song, now. It is here that I wish to reiterate the title.
(If there are actual rock/pop songs longer than the pieces mentioned, I wouldn’t mind hearing about them. The era of compact disk supremacy was about two decades and any champion could be far longer.)