When it comes to music-related world records, Guinness has one for just about every venture imaginable—and probably some you never would’ve imagined at all.
The “largest human image of a musical instrument,” for example, was a saxophone formed by 1660 people in Nice, France, as part of 2014’s National Music Day. It took a slightly smaller group to earn the distinction of “most people playing musical tubes”—1171 people, to be exact, in the Chinese city of Chengdu in 2019. And if you were wondering which concert played host to more births than any other concert in history, the answer is 1969’s famously lawless Altamont Speedway concert in California. The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, and several other high-profile music groups made appearances, as did four newborn babies.
There are Guinness World Records in more conventional categories, too. George Gershwin’s “Summertime” is the most recorded song of all time; and the “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” a disco remix of John Williams’s Star Wars compositions from Meco’s 1977 album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, is considered the best-selling instrumental single.
The longest song ever officially released, on the other hand, has yet to achieve such mainstream success—maybe because it’s a staggering 138 hours, 41 minutes, and 20 seconds long. A writer and musician named Dr. Jagadeesh Pillai, of Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, nabbed the title on March 5, 2023 with his composition and recording of a single epic track based on the 16th-century poem Shri Ram Charit Manas. The song contains all 15,000-plus verses of the poem in the Awadhi language, a version of Hindi. It takes more than five days to listen to from start to finish.
Pillai’s achievement edged out the previous record holder, “The Rise and Fall of Bossanova,” created by Michael and Kelley Bostwick of Palmer, Massachusetts. They released it on November 1, 2016, under the artist name P C III. Its duration was a mere 13 hours and change.
A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2023.