In the United Kingdom, "Marquee Moon" was released as a single on April 1, 1977. Its first pressing was as a 12" single only, limited to 25,000 copies, with the song instereo on one side and in mono on the other side. Subsequent pressings of the single were as a 7" single, with the track split into two over the A-side and B-side.
"Marquee Moon" developed from Television's early live shows in the mid-1970s, and even when first performed was an eight-minute epic with complex key changes. As it became more complex and challenging with repeated playing, Richard Hell was apparently forced to leave the band because he did not have the skill necessary to play it.
Each of the song's three verses begins with a double-stopped guitar intro before Billy Ficca's drums come in, and after the second chorus Richard Lloyd plays a brief guitar solo. After the third chorus, there is a longer solo by Tom Verlaine, based on a jazz-like mixolydian scale, that lasts for the entire second half of the song. On the original vinyl edition of the album, the song faded out just short of ten minutes, but the CD reissues have included the full 10:40 of the take. In concert, the band has sometimes extended the song to as long as fifteen minutes.
Despite its length, which would typically have been too long for most popular music radio formats, the song was released as a single in the U.K. and was a minor success, reaching number 30 on the UK Singles Chart. Because of its length, the song had to be divided between the two sides of a 7" record: "Marquee Moon" (Part I) (3:13) b/w "Marquee Moon" (Part II) (6:45). The song was also released in the U.K. as a limited edition 12" vinyl single. A mono recording of the song served as the B-side of the 12" single, and an alternate take was issued in 2003 on the remastered CD version of the album.
In 2004, "Marquee Moon" was ranked number 381 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and number 41 on its 100 Greatest Guitar Songs list in 2008. The guitar bridge from the song is quoted by Elvis Costello in his 1996 song "You Bowed Down".