Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

I’m currently reading a book about John Bonham called Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin. So it’s possible you may see another Zeppelin post soon. This song starts like a herd of Vikings coming to pillage your town.

This song was on Led Zeppelin III released in 1970. At the time it was not immediately loved like the first two albums. One reason is that it wasn’t as bombastic as the other two. It mixed in some acoustic numbers along with harder numbers. This album paved the way for their future of mixing light and heavy together that they would master on Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy.

In the Immigrant song…the band played Iceland and Robert got the idea from there. The line “The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands” would stick with them as The Hammer Of The Gods was a line to describe them as well as a book by Stephan Davis about the band. Plant’s love of history played into the lyric, as he was thinking about explorers like Marco Polo and how they must have felt in their travels.

Led Zeppelin would open their concerts with this song for a couple of years. Zeppelin is hugely popular now with fans and critics alike but it took a while for the critics to be interested. Many didn’t like the fact that they made it so fast and the huge amount of money they were making. Rolling Stone Magazine ran many critical articles about them…accusing the band of hype.

This song was released as a single in some markets. A rare thing in Zeppelin’s world. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, and #4 in New Zealand. It was not released as a single in the UK. The band didn’t want any singles released but Atlantic did occasionally much to the band’s frustration.

This song was written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Zeppelin has been singled out for being one of the first bands in “Heavy Metal.” Page does not like that tag. “I’m not really sure where we got that tag, there’s no denying that the elements of what became known as heavy metal is definitely there within Led Zeppelin. But the reality of it is that this is riff music, and riff music goes back to the blues — the electric blues of the ’50s and what was going on down there in Chicago.”

He even refused to be interviewed on “That Metal Show” because…guess why? Because it was called “That Metal Show” so he refused because of the word Metal. The host of the show was Eddie Trunk and he said: “He refuses to do anything with the word ‘metal’ in it. Now, ‘That Metal Show’ was way beyond metal, as anybody who watched it knew. We did all kinds of stuff, but he wouldn’t, he wasn’t having it. It was crazy.”

Robert Plant: “We weren’t being pompous. We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be canceled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. ‘Immigrant Song’ was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.”

Immigrant Song

Ah-ah, ah
Ah-ah, ah

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands
To fight the horde and sing and cry
Valhalla, I am coming

On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore

Ah-ah, ah
Ah-ah, ah

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

How soft your fields so green
Can whisper tales of gore
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore

So now you’d better stop
And rebuild all your ruins
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing

Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh
Ahh ah, ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

47 thoughts on “Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song”

  1. Hey Max, keep the Zep posts coming! While they were an acquired taste for me, nowadays, I really dig Zep’s music, even though they had the unfortunate habit to borrow from others without giving credit.

    “Immigrant Song” is the perfect example of a tune that took me a while to appreciate. When I listened to it for the first time, frankly, I found it kind of weird. “Kashmir” is another good example in this context. Now, I really dig these tunes. It’s funny how things sometimes can go with music!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. After reading about them… it’s hard to sometimes like them…I mean The Who were a fun band…Zep not as much….but I do love the music they made. I do think they made the right decision of quitting after Bonham passed….The Who should have made the same one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We’re completely aligned re: Zep. Musically, there’s no question they were outstanding. And none of that would have changed, had they been forthcoming about borrowing from other artists. Maybe I’m a bit naive here, I don’t think it was so much about the money. I think it primarily was about silly rock ego!

        As for The Who, honestly and perhaps selfishly, I’m glad they kept it going, as much as Moonie was a core member – similar to Charlie Watts and the Stones.

        While I think it’s fair to say The Who recorded their best music with Keith Moon, I also like some of their songs the put out after his death like “You Better You Bet”, “Athena” and “Eminence Front”.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree with you…the ego is the reason I’m sure.

        I do like Face Dances a lot…don’t get me wrong…and Kenney was a great drummer….and still is. I do think it helped Zeppelin’s image and aura (if that is the right word) by stopping when they did.

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      4. Yea I agree…it started a trend when everything had that on it.
        Don Henley once asked Glyn Johns to make him sound like Bonham…Johns told him you will have to hit much harder… his sound was not a studio sound.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. a very good one! I’d have to go through the track listings of all their albums but I think this is about where they became interesting, to my ears… not quite as bombastic as you say and a lot more variety

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes….if they would have just released the first and second one over and over again…I don’t think they would be as remembered.

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  3. Led Zeppelin remains the hard rock holder of my heart for most affecting music. When I listen to it I am transported to another place. There is a really cool video of this song out there where it shows some Viking Cats in a Viking ship. Since my internet speed is down to 600 until the 3rd, I can’t go out to find it and share the link.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been living with them since I’ve been reading the book. I have been checking out the concert footage of that time. People now have unearthed new concert film of them. I think Page regrets letting their manager Peter Grant destroy anyone’s camera trying to film the shows…Page I read…loves these glimpses now. I know the one you are talking about….I believe that clip is from The Song Remains The Same.

      There was really only one band that paralleled them…that was The Who. 4 piece band with 4 great musicians. They both came up with massive projects…The Who made the mistake of carrying on after their drummer’s death.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Lisa…I don’t know why but I love to keep learning about that time.
        Just curious Lisa…do you know much about Lemmy Kilmister? I watched a documentary on him on the same night you watched that one about the British music starting in the basement…I’m reviewing the Lemmy one tomorrow…and I’m going to watch the one you mentioned next.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re welcome. I do also but I do it mostly through reading your and others’ music blogs. I only know what I know about Lemmy through the doc I have of him that I’ve only watched once. Is the one you watched called “Lemmy”?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes…that is it. He is kinda like the rougher version of Keith Richards…a man with many faults but wasn’t going to change for anyone…but a nice guy underneath.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Max, I need to re-watch that doc. Seems like Motorhead means something a lot different to the folks in Europe than it does in the USA (I could be wrong.) Also, the sheer commitment of their fans is quite impressive iirc? I admit it, I thought Lemmy was charismatic and a bit sexy in his older years, but when I see him as a young man, it’s like wow, he was HOT!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. LOL… he is such a likeable guy… his opinion on the Beatles and Stones are very interesting and true in a lot of ways. The start of the doc has him going to buy a Beatles box set….I do like some of their music like Ace of Spades.
        Their fans are loyal! I will say that.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes I plan to… we are taking Maria back to the airport tonight sadly so I should be able to watch it when I get back.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes… I know Bailey will be sad but also….I think he needs a little of his own space and I’m sure she does…they hardly ever separated.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Well…reading about them…makes me not like them personally. It does though seem that John Paul Jones and Plant were down to earth but Bonham…was not a nice drunk to put it mildly. I do like the music though.

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      2. That is one way to put it…I’m reviewing the book when I finish but yes…I couldn’t have said it any better. In fact I said the same thing to Lisa the other day… I said at least Moon was a fun drunk…Bonham…could be just plain mean bordering on criminal at times.

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  4. What a doozie of a track Max. Love Plants howl or is it screech at the beginning lol…Another on I need to score on vinyl! It’s almost how the 70s progressed Plant kinda took over or it seemed the cards were in his hands esp once the 80s rolled around and he wanted nothing to do with a run-on tour….
    These guys are sometimes tweaked out by the term Metal I don’t get it as I listen to Metal and Plant. I have zero issues lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t understand why Page is so against the word metal lol. That surprised me about the show he refused to be on.
      Again…I don’t know where the “metal” line is drawn. Whichever it worked!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is he song that drew me to Led Zeppelin as a 15 year old kid. The first album of theirs I bought was III and the song remains the same – it’s still a favourite to his day. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one grew on me through the years and now I love it… I should have mentioned it but I loved the flip side to this rare single a lot. Hey Hey What Can I Do.

      Liked by 1 person

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