Why I Write Epic Long Songs

November 25, 2013 Jeremiah Craig 0 Comments

I’ve been playing The Commandeer EP during my most recent shows to support it’s release and every time I play it in entirety I’m almost always met with comments referring to the song as being epic from listeners. I always think it’s funny because that’s exactly what I call it too.

Even though The Commandeer EP is broken into five songs, I wrote it to be just one song and all fifteen minutes of it are meant to be heard without pause. Of course this is not a new idea for me. “l’Homme de l’Eau” and “Almost Yesterday” follow the same path. They are long songs that shift and move musically throughout. These are my epics.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an epic as:

a telling story about a hero or about exciting events or adventures
very great or large and usually difficult or impressive

I believe that my epics have both of these qualities (however the impressiveness factor is up to the listener). They all have qualities of a story and are much longer than the average song. Which is great and all but earlier this week I started wondering why do I like this form so much? Why do I write song epics?

I must have been around 10 or 12 years old. It was before I could play any instrument and there were a couple songs in my parents’ music collection I listened to very frequently. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was fascinated by the way these songs shifted and changed and how they weren’t created with the same technique as other songs I’d heard. These songs changed, not only musically but also lyrically. The character grows and learns in these songs and I liked that.

When I got a little older I found the music of Jethro Tull. First I heard the song, “Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die,” which doesn’t really follow an epic form but it lead me to the Thick as a Brick album and “Baker Street Muse” and they were perfect to my ears. These were stories, these were epics and I loved them for exactly that reason.

I used Jethro Tull’s form as a model when I wrote “l’Homme de l’Eau” and “Almost Yesterday.” You might be able to hear it a little bit but The Commandeer is much more of my own model. I’m continuing to explore how my epic form can be built and always listening to what other artists are doing with their own epic form. The Decemberists, for example, have a great few epics, including the entire Hazards of Love album.

I respect these types of songs immensely because it takes a lot of time, effort and passion to make it work. It is also makes me proud to have epic long songs in my own repertoire. They require great attention in the writing process but also from the listener. That’s why when I get a compliment or a comment from a listener about how they thought the song was epic, it means a lot because that’s what I’m going for.

One thing is for sure, you can expect more of these from me in the future. They are a challenge and enjoy creating a story to share. I hope you like what you’re hearing so far.