When rock started to show its mean side, you knew it wasn’t commercial music at all. These were musicians who viewed their craft much more as a lifestyle, which meant bringing long stretches of solos and some of the most epic tracks the rock world had ever seen. However, you can’t always fit this into a compact single, and those runtimes have started to get much longer over the years.
Throughout all eras of rock history, there have always been artists willing to push the boundaries of what hard rock music can do, and these songs feel more like sonic statements than actual catchy singles. . While they might use the traditional tropes of what you’d find in a hard rock song, there’s something else at play here, using them as a way to tell a big story or show a different side of their musicianship than you have never seen before. .
It can be a bit difficult to label them as hard rock, with some of them often being relegated to the prog category or the metal end of the spectrum. While these songs last, it’s the kind of music that makes you want to throw your fist in the air and whip out your air guitar for almost 10 minutes straight.
There’s probably a good contingency of hard rock fans wondering why the Beatles would fill out a list like this. The Fab Four certainly did a lot to put rock and roll on the map, but most of their music tended to fall on the more pop side of the spectrum. It was the first half of their career, and John Lennon gave us something much wilder in the second half of the ’60s.
Outside of the various experimental songs they would get into from time to time, I Want You (She’s So Heavy) is pretty blues most of the way, taking the standard tropes you’d find in blues clubs of that era and sprinkling in some tasty licks to Lennon’s melody. What makes this hard rock territory is the lead riff that carries the back half of the melody, sounding like the end of the world unfolding before your ears before slowing down and back into bluesy territory.
Once you reach the outro of the song, the riff seems to reach an even bigger climax, as more guitars are overdubbed, sounding like a dark monster smashing its way through the land. If you had asked John what he was doing back then, he might have just been trying to be experimental for the hell of it, but there’s something more at work here. He may have messed around, but in 7 minutes he gave us the basics of doom metal without even trying.