Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven…Epic Rock Songs Week

Thank you to everyone who tuned in all week to read about these songs…I really appreciate it.

It’s possibly the most popular rock song of all time. Stairway To Heaven wasn’t a chart hit at the time because it was never released as a single to the general public. Radio stations did received promotional singles which quickly became collector’s items. Zeppelin refused to let it be edited down for a single release.

This song was the absolute peak of Led Zeppelin. It was the crown jewel in their catalog. They would have some great albums and songs after this but this is what they were all about. The light/heavy format is what they worked for…and Zeppelin reached it’s perfection with Stairway To Heaven.

The song gradually builds from a lonely guitar and organ to the full band and then explodes along with a perfect solo from Jimmy Page…then the song ends quietly with Robert. Although I’ve heard it many times I always look forward to one part…”If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow” and that is John Bonham’s cue to makes his entrance. That part is magical to me.

Robert Plant wrote the lyrics and he has said that he drew inspiration from the works of the Scottish writer Lewis Spence, notably from his book Magic Arts in Celtic Britain.

The song eventually picked up a lot of controversy through the years. In the 80s it was rumored that the band had hidden messages in the song. Someone decided to play it backwards and probably because of Pages infatuation with Aleister Crowley, found satanic messages. Who would even think of playing a record backwards?

The song was on their album Led Zeppelin IV and the album peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, and #1 in the UK.

Robert Plant: “I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold/And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.’ I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat.”

Robert Plant (about the backward masking): “‘Stairway To Heaven’ was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that’s not my idea of making music. It’s really sad. The first time I heard it was early in the morning when I was living at home, and I heard it on a news program. I was absolutely drained all day. I walked around, and I couldn’t actually believe, I couldn’t take people seriously who could come up with sketches like that. There are a lot of people who are making money there, and if that’s the way they need to do it, then do it without my lyrics. I cherish them far too much.” 

Jimmy Page: To me, I thought ‘Stairway’ crystallized the essence of the band. It had everything there and showed the band at its best… as a band, as a unit. Not talking about solos or anything, it had everything there. We were careful never to release it as a single. It was a milestone for us. Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time and I guess we did it with ‘Stairway.’ Townshend probably thought that he got it with Tommy. I don’t know whether I have the ability to come up with more. I have to do a lot of hard work before I can get anywhere near those stages of consistent, total brilliance.”

Andy Johns (sound engineer): “This song arrived completed. The arrangements had been done before the band entered the studio. We recorded the main tracks upstairs, in Island, with Jimmy on acoustic guitar, John Paul on a Hohner electric upright piano, and Bonham behind his kit. I tried to have a left hand sound coming out of the Hohner piano, in order to have something to re-record afterwards. As soon as we added the bass parts and Page started recording the overdubs, we could already tell it would be awesome. I knew it was a really special track and I was proud to take part in it. I didn’t have the least idea, however, that it would become a f–king hymn for three generations of kids!” 

From Songfacts

On Tuesday November 13, 2007, Led Zeppelin’s entire back catalog was made available as legal digital downloads, making all of their tracks eligible for the UK singles chart. As a result, at the end of that week the original version of “Stairway To Heaven” arrived in the UK singles charts for the first time. Previously, three covers had charted: the multinational studio band Far Corporation reached #8 with their version in 1985, then reggae tribute act Dread Zeppelin crawled to #62 in 1991 and finally Rolf Harris’ reworking outdid the other two, peaking at #7 in 1993.

Robert Plant spent much of the ’70s answering questions about the lyrics he wrote for “Stairway.” When asked why the song was so popular, he said it could be its “abstraction,” adding, “Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way – and I wrote the lyrics.”

The lyrics take some pretty wild turns, but the beginning of the song is about a woman who accumulates money, only to find out the hard way her life had no meaning and will not get her into heaven. This is the only part Plant would really explain, as he said it was “a woman getting everything she wanted without giving anything back.”

Led Zeppelin started planning “Stairway” in early 1970 when they decided to create a new, epic song to replace “Dazed And Confused” as the centerpiece of their concerts. Jimmy Page would work on the song in an 8-track studio he had installed in his boathouse, trying out different sections on guitar. By April, he was telling journalists that their new song might be 15-minutes long, and described it as something that would “build towards a climax” with John Bonham’s drums not coming in for some time. In October 1970, after about 18 months of near constant touring, the song took shape. Page and Plant explained that they started working on it at a 250-year-old Welsh cottage called Bron-yr-Aur, where they wrote the songs for Led Zeppelin III. Page sometimes told a story of the pair sitting by a fire at the cabin as they composed it, a tale that gives the song a mystical origin story, as there could have been spirits at play within those walls.

Page told a different story under oath: When he was called to the stand in 2016 as part of a plagiarism trial over this song, he said that he wrote the music on his own and first played it for his bandmates at Headley Grange in Liphook Road, Headley, Hampshire, where they recorded it using a mobile studio owned by The Rolling Stones. Plant corroborated the story in his testimony.

Headley Grange may not be as enchanting as Bron-yr-Aur, but the place had some character: It was a huge, old, dusty mansion with no electricity but great acoustics. Bands would go there to get some privacy and focus on songwriting, as the biggest distractions were the sheep and other wildlife.

This is rumored to contain backward satanic messages, as if Led Zeppelin sold their souls to the devil in exchange for “Stairway To Heaven.” Supporting this theory is the fact that Jimmy Page bought Aleister Crowley’s house in Scotland, known as Boleskine House. In his books, Crowley advocated that his followers learn to read and speak backwards.

This runs 8:03, but still became one of the most-played songs on American radio, proving that people wouldn’t tune out just because a song was long. It was a perfect fit for FM radio, which was a newer format challenging the established AM with better sound quality and more variety. “Stairway” fit nicely into what was called the “Album Oriented Rock” (AOR) format, and later became a staple of Classic Rock. By most measures, it is the most-played song in the history of American FM radio. It has also sold more sheet music than any other rock song – about 10,000 to 15,000 copies a year, and more than one million total.

Jimmy Page has a strong affinity for this song, and felt Robert Plant’s lyrics were his best yet. He had him write all of Zeppelin’s lyrics from then on.

This was the only song whose lyrics were printed on the album’s inner sleeve.

Many novice guitarists try to learn this song, and most end up messing it up. In the movie Wayne’s World, it is banned in the guitar shop where Wayne (Mike Myers) starts playing it. If you saw the movie in theaters, you heard Wayne play the first few notes of the song before being scolded and pointed to a sign that says “NO Stairway To Heaven” (Wayne: “No Stairway. Denied.”). Because of legal issues – apparently even a few notes of “Stairway To Heaven” have to be cleared, and good luck with that – the video and TV releases of the movie were changed so Wayne plays something incomprehensible. This novice guitar Stairway cliché later showed up on an episode of South Park when the character Towelie tries to play the song in a talent show and screws it up.

Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones decided not to use a bass on this because it sounded like a folk song. Instead, he added a string section, keyboards and flutes. He also played wooden recorders that were used on the intro. Bonham’s drums do not come in until 4:18.

Robert Plant is a great admirer of all things mystic, the old English legends and lore and the writings of the Celts. He was immersed in the books Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence and The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Tolkien inspiration can be heard in the phrase, “In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,” which could be a reference to the smoke rings blown by the wizard Gandalf. There is also a correlation between the lady in the song and the character from the book, Lady Galadriel, the Queen of Elves who lives in the golden forest of Lothlorien. In the book, all that glittered around her was in fact gold, as the leaves of the trees in the forest of Lothlorien were golden. 

Dolly Parton covered this on her 2002 album Halos and Horns – Robert Plant said he liked her version. Other artists to cover this include U2, Jimmy Castor, Frank Zappa, The Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Sisters of Mercy, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, Zakk Wylde, Elkie Brooks, Pardon Me Boys, White Flag, Jana, Great White, Stanley Jordan, Far Corporation, Dixie Power Trio, Justin Hayward, Leningrad Cowboys, Dread Zeppelin, Tiny Tim, piano virtuoso Richard Abel, and Monte Montgomery. Neil Sedaka had an unrelated Top 10 hit with the same title in 1960. 

Many critics trashed this song when it came out: Lester Bangs described it as “a thicket of misbegotten mush, and the British music magazine Sounds said it induced “first boredom and then catatonia.”

Led Zeppelin played this for the first time in Belfast on March 5, 1971 – Northern Ireland was a war zone at the time and there was rioting in nearby streets. John Paul Jones said in an audio documentary that when they played it, the audience was not that impressed. They wanted to hear something they knew – like “Whole Lotta Love.”

The song got a better reception when the band started the US leg of their tour. In an excerpt from Led Zeppelin; The Definitive Biography by Ritchie Yorke, Jimmy Page said of playing the song at an August 1971 show at the Los Angeles Forum: “I’m not saying the whole audience gave us a standing ovation – but there was this sizable standing ovation there. And I thought, ‘This is incredible because no one’s heard this number yet. This is the first time hearing it!’ It obviously touched them, so I knew there was something with that one.” 

Jimmy Page considers this a masterpiece, but Robert Plant does not share his fondness for the song. Plant has referred to it as a “wedding song” and insists that his favorite Led Zeppelin song is “Kashmir.” After the band broke up, Plant refused to sing it except on rare occasions, including Live Aid.

Clarifying his position in a 2018 interview with Dan Rather, Plant said: “It belongs to a particular time. If I had been involved in the instrumentation I would feel that it’s a magnificent piece of music that has its own character and personality. It even speeds up in a similar way to some pieces of more highbrow music. But my contribution was to write lyrics and to sing a song about fate and something very British, almost abstract, but coming out of the mind of a 23-year-old guy. It landed in the years of the era of 23-year-old guys.”

This was the last song the remaining members of Led Zeppelin performed when they reunited for Live Aid in 1985. Bob Geldof organized the event, and did his best to get many famous bands to play even if they had broken up. Unlike The Who, Geldof had an easy time convincing Plant, Page, and Jones to play the show. They played the Philadelphia stage with Tony Thompson and Phil Collins sitting in on drums.

The acoustic, fingerpicking intro is very similar to the song “Taurus” from the band Spirit, who toured with Led Zeppelin when they first played the US. “Taurus” is a guitar instrumental written by the group’s guitarist, Randy California, and included on their debut album in 1968. It was part of the band’s set and Jimmy Page admitted that he owned the album.

Randy California never took any legal action against Led Zeppelin or sought compensation from them. A mercurial man who drowned in 1997 at age 45, he was described by his bandmate Mark Andes as “kind of a pathetic, tortured genius.”

The “Stairway” connection is just a small piece of the Spirit story. California was a guitar prodigy who at age 15 joined Jimi Hendrix in the group Jimmy James And The Blue Flames. Three months later, Hendrix went to England. He wanted to take California with him, but Randy’s age made it impossible.

Randy played with future Steely Dan founder Walter Becker in the Long Island band Tangerine Puppets, then moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Spirit with three friends and his stepfather, Ed Cassidy, who played drums. They got some gigs at the Whisky a Go Go, and Lou Adler signed them to his label, Ode Records. Their first album was a modest success that mustered one minor hit: “Mechanical World.” Written by band members Mark Andes and Jay Ferguson, it stalled at #123 US. California set out to write a hit for their second album, The Family That Plays Together (1969), and came up with “I Got A Line On You,” which made #25.

It would be their biggest hit. The band declined an invitation to Woodstock and fractured in 1972, with California’s already volatile mental health ravaged by drug use. The band reunited from time to time, but never got their due. By the time of California’s death, few remembered “Taurus” and its connection to “Stairway To Heaven,” but in 1999, Songfacts went online and the discussion was revived.

In 2002, a former music journalist named Michael Skidmore came into control of California’s estate, and 2014 he began proceedings against Led Zeppelin. In 2016, Jimmy Page testified in the case and said that the first time he heard of the controversy when a few years earlier when his son-in-law told him that a debate had been brewing online. Page insisted he had never heard “Taurus” before, and that it was “totally alien” to him.

The jury didn’t buy the argument that Page never heard “Taurus,” but still ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin, deciding that the chord progression in “Taurus” was common to many other songs dating back decades, and therefore, in the public domain. In 2018, the case was sent back to trial on appeal, but the ruling was upheld two years later. Here’s a timeline of the case.

Pat Boone released an unlikely cover on his album In a In a Metal Mood. Boone wanted to see how it would turn out as a jazz waltz, and opened and closed the song with soft flute playing. In a subtle reference to his Christian faith, Boone changed the line “All in one is all and all” to “Three in one is all and all” – a reference to the Christian Trinity (the Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

Before recording the song, he scanned it for devilish references. “I kept looking for allusions to witchcraft or drugs,” he said in a Songfacts interview. “And even though there were strange images, like ‘in the hedgerows’ and all these things, there were no specific mentions of Jimmy Page’s involvement in witchcraft or anything like that.”

Another notable cover was by an Australian performer called Rolf Harris, who used a wobbleboard (piece of quite floppy wood, held at both sides, arched slightly and wobbled so the arch would continually invert) and changed the line “And it makes me wonder” to “Does it make you wonder.” 

In the ’90s, Australian TV host Andrew Denton had a show on which various artists were asked to perform their version of this song. Their versions were released on an album called The Money or the Gun: Stairways to Heaven. Artists performing it included Australian Doors Show, The Beatnix, Kate Ceberano and the Ministry of Fun, Robyne Dunn, Etcetera Theatre Company, The Fargone Beauties, Sandra Hahn and Michael Turkic, Rolf Harris, Pardon Me Boys, Neil Pepper, The Rock Lobsters, Leonard Teale, Toys Went Berserk, Vegimite Reggae, The Whipper Snappers, and John Paul Young. In reply to Rolf Harris’ version, Page and Plant performed his song “Sun Arise” at the end of another Denton TV show. 

In January 1990, this song was added to the Muzak playlist in a solo harp version. Unlike the original, the Muzak version, arranged and recorded to provide an “uplifting, productive atmosphere” and “counteract the worker-fatigue curve in the office environment,” did not do so well, as even this sanitized version drew a lot of attention to the song, thus undermining the intention of the Muzak programming. 

The band performed this at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in 1988 with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father. Plant did not want to play it, but was convinced at the last minute. It was sloppy and Plant forgot some of the words. This was not the case when Jason joined them again in 2007 for a benefit show to raise money for the Ahmet Ertegun education fund. They performed this song and 15 others, earning rave reviews from fans and critics.

Zeppelin’s longest ever performance of this song was their last gig in Berlin in 1980. It clocked in around 15 minutes long. 

Gordon Roy of Wishaw, Scotland had all of the lyrics to this song tattooed on his back. He did it as a tribute to a friend who died in a car accident.

In the late ’90s, the radio trade magazine Monday Morning Replay reported that “Stairway” was still played 4,203 times a year by the 67 largest AOR (album-oriented rock) radio stations in the US. ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, refuses to release exact figures on how many times it has been played since its release, but figure that on each AOR station in America, the song was played five times a day during its first three months of existence; twice a day for the next nine months; once a day for the next four years; and two to three times a week for the next 15 years. There are roughly 600 AOR and Classic Rock stations in the US, which means that “Stairway” has been broadcast a minimum of 2,874 times. At 8 minutes per spin, roughly 23 million minutes – almost 44 years – have been devoted to the song. So far.

On January 23, 1991, under the direction of owner and general manager John Sebastian, the radio station KLSK (104.1 FM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico played this song over and over for 24 hours, confounding listeners who weren’t used to hearing Led Zeppelin on the station. The song played over 200 times, with many listeners tuning in to find out when it would end. It turned out to be publicity stunt, as the station was switching to a Classic Rock format.

Explaining his guitar setup for the solo, Jimmy Page told Guitar Player magazine in 1977: “I was using the Supro amp for the first album, and I still use it. The ‘Stairway to Heaven’ solo was done when I pulled out the Telecaster, which I hadn’t used for a long time, plugged it into the Supro, and away it went again. That’s a different sound entirely from the rest of the first album. It was a good, versatile setup.”

The Foo Fighters did a mock cover of this song, and their version was to say that nobody should try to cover the song because they will screw it up. Dave Grohl intentionally carried the intro on way too long, asked his drummer and audience for lyrics, and when it came time for the guitar solo, he sang Jimmy Page’s part. This was done purely as a joke, and to tell people not to cover the song, as Grohl is a huge Zeppelin fan, and lists Zeppelin’s John Bonham as a major influence. 

Rolling Stone magazine asked Jimmy Page how much of the guitar solo was composed before he recorded it. He replied: “It wasn’t structured at all [laughs]. I had a start. I knew where and how I was going to begin. And I just did it. There was an amplifier [in the studio] that I was trying out. It sounded good, so I thought, “OK, take a deep breath, and play.” I did three takes and chose one of them. They were all different. The solo sounds constructed – and it is, sort of, but purely of the moment. For me, a solo is something where you just fly, but within the context of the song.”

Mary J. Blige recorded this in 2010 backed by Travis Barker, Randy Jackson, Steve Vai and Orianthi. Blige told MTV: “Once you get lost in the rock-and-roll moment of it, all you can do is scream to the top of your lungs or go as low as you need to go. It’s not a head thing – it’s a spirit thing.” She added: “I am a Led Zeppelin fan. I’ve listened to their music since I was a child, and it’s always moved me, especially ‘Stairway To Heaven.’ I make songs my own by going deep inside myself and translating them to ‘what would Mary do.'” The song is included as a bonus track on the UK re-issue of her album Stronger With Each Tear and made available for download. Blige performed the song on the April 21, 2010 episode of American Idol. 

In solo work or with other groups, Jimmy Page would not let anyone but Robert Plant sing this, but he did play it as an instrumental on occasion.

The ending of this song is distinctive in that is closes out with just Robert Plant’s voice. According to Jimmy Page, he wrote a guitar part to end the song, but decided to leave it off since the vocal at the end had such an impact.

Jimmy Page often called “In The Light” from Physical Graffiti a follow-up to this song.

Regarding the composition of the track, Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone: “I was trying things at home, shunting this piece up with that piece. I had the idea of the verses, the link into the solo and the last part. It was this idea of something that would keep building and building.”

Stairway To Heaven

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Oh oh oh oh and she’s buying a stairway to heaven

There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder

There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder

And it’s whispered that soon, If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
And it makes me wonder

Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she’s buying the stairway to heaven

Led Zeppelin – All My Love

This synth driven song was a memorable one from the In Through The Out Door album. It’s not your usual love song. It’s about Robert Plant’s son Karac who died in 1977 from a stomach virus when he was 5 years old. Robert has said “It was paying tribute to the joy that he gave us as a family.

Robert Plant holding his son Karac and walking beside his daughter

Some Zeppelin fans didn’t like this album as much. I have always liked the album but I don’t consider it their best or worse. Like with Who songs…the drums here are a stand out.

John Bonham and Jimmy Page didn’t take to the song too well. They thought it was a little too soft for Zeppelin. Page said it was fine on the album but he would not have wanted to go in that direction in the future.

Robert and John Paul Jones wrote this song.

Robert Plant: “In Through The Out Door wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but at least we were trying to vary what we were doing, for our own integrity’s sake,” “Of all the (Led Zeppelin) records, it’s interesting but a bit sanitized because we hadn’t been in the clamor and chaos for a long time. In ’77, when I lost my boy, I didn’t really want to go swinging around- ‘Hey hey mama say the way you move’ didn’t really have a great deal of import anymore.”

From Songfacts

Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and bass player John Paul Jones wrote this. The band had drifted apart, with guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham hanging out together and rarely showing up on time for recording sessions. As a result, many of the songs on In Through The Out Door were put together by Plant and Jones, with Page and Bonham adding their parts late at night.

This changes key on the last chorus.

You don’t hear much synthesizer in Led Zeppelin’s canon, but “All My Love” contains a synth solo played by John Paul Jones. In Through The Out Door was recorded at Polar Studios in Stockholm, which was owned by Abba. Benny Andersson of Abba had a Yamaha GX-1 synth in the studio that Jones used on the track.

This was only played live during Led Zeppelin’s 1980 tour of Germany.

Robert Plant had another son, Logan, in 1979 before In Through The Out Door was released. He has talked about how his images of Logan and Karac sometimes blur together, with his joy for Logan’s life tempered by the pain of Karac’s death. Plant’s 1993 solo track “I Believe” is also about Karac.

All My Love

Should I fall out of love, my fire in the light
To chase a feather in the wind
Within the glow that weaves a cloak of delight
There moves a thread that has no end

For many hours and days that pass ever soon
The tides have caused the flame to dim
At last the arm is straight, the hand to the loom
Is this to end or just begin?

All of my love, all of my love
All of my love to you, oh

All of my love, all of my love, oh
All of my love to you

The cup is raised, the toast is made yet again
One voice is clear above the din
Proud Arianne one word, my will to sustain
For me, the cloth once more to spin, oh

All of my love, all of my love, oh
All of my love to you

All of my love, all of my love, yes
All of my love to you

Yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sews time
His is the force that lies within
Ours is the fire, all the warmth we can find
He is a feather in the wind, oh

All of my love, all of my love, oh
All of my love to you

All of my love, ooh yes, all of my love to you now
All of my love, all of my love
All of my love, love, sometimes, sometimes

Sometimes, sometimes, oh love
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Ooh yeah, it’s all my love

All of my love, all of my love, to you now

All of my love, all of my love
all of my love to, to you, you, you, yeah
I get a little bit lonely

Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

What I like about Zeppelin is change. Every album took a step in another direction. It wasn’t just the bombardment of hard guitars like the first album. They stepped into folk, reggae, rockabilly, soul, blues, country, and rock and roll. The fans and critics complained at times especially over Led Zeppelin III.

I’ve always liked this song. John Paul Jones’s bass stands out in this song. His bass in some Zeppelin songs is back in the mix a bit. The lyrics were inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien and similar themes appeared on subsequent Led Zeppelin albums. In this song they did what they did best…light and dark…soft and hard. The dynamics they worked on would later culminate into Stairway to Heaven.

This song was on Led Zeppelin II that they recorded all over in different studios on their first tour. They recorded this song in New York.

The album Led Zeppelin II peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, and #1 in the UK.

From Songfacts

Some of Robert Plant’s lyrics in this song were inspired by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of The Rings. The references are to the adventures of the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, as he goes to “the darkest depths of Mordor” and encounters “Gollum and the evil one.” Plant later admitted in an audio documentary that he was embarrassed by the Tolkien references, as they don’t make all that much sense – a fair maiden wouldn’t be found in Mordor, and Gollum would want nothing to do with her anyway, since his only concern is the precious ring.

This is one of Led Zeppelin’s most enduring songs, but they never performed it live from start to finish while the band was active. It was in their set when Zeppelin reunited for a one-off concert at the O2 Arena in London on December 10, 2007. John Bonham’s son Jason filled in on drums at that show.

What John Bonham played as percussion to supplement his drums on this song is not clear. It sounds like bongos, but has been reported to be a plastic garbage pail or a guitar case.

The concept of the troubadour “rambling on” – going from place to place and constantly moving forward – is one Robert Plant embraced. In his post-Zeppelin career, he went from one project to the next, refusing to fall back on nostalgia. It was Plant who kiboshed the proposed Led Zep reunion tour in 2007.

The group Train covered this on their 2001 Midnight Moon album. Their lead singer, Pat Monahan, was once in a band that did entire sets of Zeppelin songs. Producer Brendan O’Brien heard Train’s version and agreed to produce their second album.

This was sampled by the Insane Clown Posse for the song “50 Bucks” on their rare album Psychopathics From Outer Space and was also the single that accompanied The Pendulum #7, a 12-comic series of the group done by Chaos! Comics.

Along with “Going To California,” this is one of two Led Zeppelin songs used in the 2019 indie film The Friend. The band agreed to license the songs at a much lower rate than usual after hearing pleas from the filmmakers. The movie tells the true story of Nicole Teague, a woman with terminal cancer. The songs were part of her story and played an important role in the narrative.

Ramble On

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way

Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do

Ramble on
And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song
I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams

Got no time for spreadin’ roots
The time has come to be gone
And thoough our health we drank a thousand times
It’s time to ramble on

Ramble on
And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song
I’m going ’round the world, I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
I gotta ramble on
I gotta find the queen of all my dreams

I ain’t tellin’ no lie
Mine’s a tale that can’t be told
My freedom I hold dear
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air
‘T was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one
Crept up and slipped away with her
Her, her, yeah
Ain’t nothing I can do, no

I guess I keep on rambling
I’m gonna, yeah, yeah, yeah
Sing my song (I gotta find my baby)
I gotta ramble on, sing my song
Gotta work my way around the world baby, baby
Ramble on, yeah
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, my baby
Doo, doo, doo, doo
Doodoo doodoo doodoo doodoo doodoo

I gotta keep searching for my baby
(Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby)
I gotta keep-a-searchin’ for my baby
(My, my, my, my, my, my, my baby)
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
I can’t find my bluebird
I listen to my bluebird sing
I can’t find my bluebird
I keep rambling, baby
I keep rambling, baby

 

Led Zeppelin – In The Evening

This is my favorite song on In Through The Out Door. The beginning sounds like the end of the world is coming. There is a build-up of sound and then Jimmy blasts the main riff of this song.

The intro was apparently taken from a soundtrack Jimmy Page was working on for fellow Aleister Crowley admirer Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising.

The song was not released as a single as usual for Led Zeppelin but the album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1979. This album and The Wall by Pink Floyd were said to help save a Record industry that was slumping at the time.

Jimmy Page used a drone effect on his guitar similar to create a sound similar to what he did on the song “In The Light,” but instead of using a cello bow on his guitar, he used a Gizmotron to create the effect. The Gizmotron is a guitar processing device invented by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley from the band 10cc to get a strange distorted sound.

After reading about the Gizmotron…I want one!

Gizmotron

Gizmotron | Vintage Guitar® magazine

A rare, restored, and  working Gizmotron.

 

From Songfacts

Robert Plant’s lyrics are about how the rich and famous are still exposed to pain and suffering, just in different ways.

When they were recording this album, Jimmy Page and John Bonham were spending a lot of time together and would usually show up at the studio very late and work through the night. This started out with just drums and keyboards created by John Paul Jones, who had a new drum machine to work with.

Robert Plant called this song, “A great one, a real stomper.”

In The Evening

In the evening
When the day is done
I’m looking for a woman
But the girl don’t come
So don’t let her
Play you for a fool
She don’t show no pity, baby
She don’t make no rules

Oh, I need your love
I need your love
Oh, I need your love
I just got to have

So don’t you let her
Oh, get under your skin
It’s only bad luck and trouble
From the day that you begin
I hear you crying in the darkness,
Don’t ask nobody’s help
Ain’t no pockets full of mercy, baby
‘Cause you can only blame yourself

Oh, I need your love
Oh, oh, I need your love
Yeah, I need your love
I just got to have

Oh, it’s simple
All the pain that you go through
You can turn away from fortune, fortune, fortune
‘Cause that’s all that’s left to you
Oh, it’s lonely at the bottom
Man, it’s dizzy at the top
But if you’re standing in the middle
Ain’t no way you’re gonna stop, oh

Oh, I need your love
Oh, oh, I need your love
Oh, oh, I need your love
I just got to have

Ooh, whatever that your days may bring
No use hiding in a corner
‘Cause that won’t change a thing
If you’re dancing in the doldrums
One day soon, it’s got to stop, it’s got to stop
When you’re the master of the off-chance
When you don’t expect a lot

Oh, I need your love
Oh, oh, I need your love
Oh yeah, I need your love
I just got to have, I just got to have

Led Zeppelin – Fool In The Rain

One of the first songs I noticed by Zeppelin when they were still a functioning band. As always in Zeppelin songs, Bonham really shines and he drives the song. BTW the B side to this song was Hot Dog. A fun rockabilly song with a hoe down guitar riff…that is the only way I know how to describe it.

Dave posted the Genesis’s song Misunderstanding the other day and I commented that I thought these two songs are sort of similar. The subject is very close (a guy waiting for the girl and both in the rain) and they do sound related…not exact copies at all but similar. Led Zeppelin’s song was recorded before and released before the Genesis song….I’m definitely not saying anything idea was ripped off… just a happy coincidence…anyway sorry about the detour.

This was on their last studio album (not counting Coda) In Through The Out Door. Fool In The Rain peaked at #21 in the Billboard 100, #12 in Canada, and #44 in New Zealand Top 50 Singles Chart in 1980.

This was the last Led Zeppelin song to chart in the US. The group didn’t release many singles, but they pegged this one for popular appeal. Zeppelin retired with six Top 40 hits in America.

From Songfacts

This song is about a guy who is supposed to meet a woman on a certain corner. When the woman doesn’t show up, he thinks he’s been stood up. It turns out he was just standing on the WRONG corner and is now a “fool in the rain.” 

This song was never performed live because the group didn’t think the sound came off well. The piano was quite necessary in the song, but with John Paul Jones on piano there could be no bass, and the bass is very important in this one. There is also a twelve-string line at one point in the song and the guitar solo that has to be pulled off. The middle section was another issue.

Jimmy Page used regular distortion on this song, as well as an obscure effect called a called a blue box, which is a fuzz/octave pedal. This fuzzes (or distorts) the guitar, then drops it down two whole octaves. James Taylor’s bassist has used this effect. 

Mexican rockers Mana recorded this for the Spanish language market edition of the tribute album Encomium

 

Here are the two songs.

Fool In The Rain

Oh, baby
Well there’s a light in your eye that keeps shining
Like a star that can’t wait for night
I hate to think I been blinded baby
Why can’t I see you tonight?
And the warmth of your smile starts a burning
And the thrill of your touch give me fright
And I’m shaking so much, really yearning
Why don’t you show up and make it alright, yeah?
It’s alright right

And if you promised you’d love so completely
And you said you would always be true
You swore that you never would leave me baby
Whatever happened to you?
And you thought it was only in movies
As you wish all your dreams would come true, hey
It ain’t the first time believe me baby
I’m standing here feeling blue, blue ha!
Yes I’m blue
Oh, babe

Now I will stand in the rain on the corner
I watch the people go shuffling downtown
Another ten minutes no longer
And then I’m turning around, ’round
And the clock on the wall’s moving slower
Oh, my heart it sinks to the ground
And the storm that I thought would blow over
Clouds the light of the love that I found, found

Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I found
Oh, that I found

Hey, babe, ooh

Hand that ticks on the clock
Just don’t seem to stop
When I’m thinking it over
Oh, tired of the light
I just don’t seem to find
Have you wait, yeah played
Whoa, I see it in my dreams
But I just don’t seem to be with you, you
I gotta get it all, gotta get it all, gotta get it all
I’ve got to get all

Ooh now my body is starting to quiver
And the palms of my hands getting wet, oh
I got no reason to doubt you baby
It’s all a terrible mess
And I’ll run in the rain till I’m breathless
When I’m breathless I’ll run ’til I drop, hey!
And the thoughts of a fool’s kind of careless
I’m just a fool waiting on the wrong block, oh yeah

Hey, now, oh, oh, oh
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I
Light of the love that I found
Light of the hey, now light of the hey, now
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I found

Led Zeppelin – Kashmir

This is one of my favorite songs from Led Zeppelin. I think it’s one of their best if not their best. It was on the Physical Graffiti Album released in 1975. The song did not chart but is hugely popular on the radio.

The song is hypnotic to listen to. The drums are the key to this song… Jimmy Page has said this about John Bonham on Kashmir… It was what he didn’t do that made it work.

Jimmy also said this was the best Led Zeppelin guitar riff.

Kashmir, also known as Cashmere, is a lush mountain region North of Pakistan. India and Pakistan have disputed control of the area for years. The fabric Cashmere is made from the hair of goats from the region. The area is also famous for growing poppies, from which heroin is made.

The songwriters were John Bonham, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant.

Robert Plant – Plant explained: “‘Kashmir’ came from a trip Jimmy and me made down the Moroccan Atlantic coast, from Agadir down to Sidi Ifni. We were just the same as the other hippies really.”

From Songfacts

All band members agreed this was one of their best musical achievements. Robert Plant said it was “One of my favorites… it was so positive, lyrically.” 

Plant wrote the lyrics in 1973 while driving through the Sahara Desert on the way to the National Festival of folklore in Morocco. Kashmir is in Southern Asia; he was nowhere near it. In Mojo magazine, September 2010, 

The original title was “Driving To Kashmir.”

This runs 8:31. Radio stations had no problem playing it, especially after “Stairway To Heaven,” which was almost as long, did so well.

The signature guitar riff began as a tuning cycle Jimmy Page had been using for years.

This is one of the few Zeppelin songs to use outside musicians. Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections. Jimmy Page said (Rolling Stone, 2012): “I knew that this wasn’t just something guitar-based. All of the guitar parts would be on there. But the orchestra needed to sit there, reflecting those other parts, doing what the guitars were but with the colors of a symphony.”

Speaking with Dan Rather in 2018, Robert Plant said: “It was a great achievement to take such a monstrously dramatic musical piece and find a lyric that was ambiguous enough, and a delivery that was not over-pumped. It was almost the antithesis of the music, this lyric and this vocal delivery that was just about enough to get in there.”

Led Zeppelin played this in every live show from it’s debut in 1975 to their last concert in 1980.

Page and Plant recorded this with an orchestra and Moroccan musicians for their 1994 Unledded album.

Puff Daddy (he wasn’t Diddy yet) sampled this in 1998 for a song called “Come With Me.” He performed it on Saturday Night Live with Page on guitar.

The remaining members of Led Zeppelin performed this at the Atlantic Records 40th-anniversary party in 1988 with Jason Bonham on drums. It was a mess – the keyboards got lost in the feed and Plant was bumped by a fan and forgot some of the words. They had more success when they performed the song on December 10, 2007, at a benefit show to raise money for the Ahmet Ertegun education fund.

In the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Mike Damone tells Mark Ratner, “When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin 4. In the next scene, he is on the date with this song playing in the car. Cameron Crowe, who wrote the screenplay, couldn’t get the rights to any of the songs on Led Zeppelin 4, so he used “Kashmir” instead. Crowe used Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” on his 2001 movie Almost Famous.

Plant said in an audio documentary that he loved this song not only because of its intensity but also because it was so intense without being considered “heavy metal,” a label none of the band liked. 

Jimmy Page: “The intensity of ‘Kashmir’ was such that when we had it completed, we knew there was something really hypnotic to it, we couldn’t even describe such a quality. At the beginning, there was only Bonzo [drummer John Bonham] and me in Headley Grange. He played the rhythm on drums, and I found the riff as well as the overdubs which were thereafter duplicated by an orchestra, to bring more life to the track. It sounded so frightening at first…”

Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant said: “I remember Bonzo having me listen to the demo of ‘Kashmir’ with only him and Jimmy. It was fantastic. What’s funny is that after a first recording of the song, we found it sounded a bit like a dirge. We were in Paris, we had Atlantic listen to it, and we all thought it really sounded like a dirge. So Richard (Cole) was sent to Southall in London to find a Pakistanese orchestra. Jonesy put it all together and the final result was exactly what was needed. He was an exceptional arranger.” 

“Kashmir” makes the “songs performed at the Super Bowl” list because a few seconds of it played during Shakira’s set when she performed at halftime in the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in 2020.

 

Kashmir

Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face
And stars to fill my dream
I’m a traveler of both time and space
To be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race
This world has seldom seen
They talk of days for which they sit and wait
All will be revealed

Talk in song from tongues of lilting grace
Sounds caress my ear
And not a word I heard could I relate
The story was quite clear

Oh, oh
Oh, oh

Oh, oh baby, I been flying
No yeah, mama, there ain’t no denying
Oh, oh yeah I’ve been flying
Mama, mama, ain’t no denying, no denying

All I see turns to brown
As the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand
As I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find, where I’ve been

Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace
Like thoughts inside a dream
Heed the path that led me to that place
Yellow desert stream
Like Shangri-la beneath the summer moon
I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June
When moving through Kashmir

Oh, father of the four winds fill my sails
Across the sea of years
With no provision but an open face
Along the straits of fear

Oh, oh
Oh, oh

Oh, when I’m on, when I’m on my way, yeah
When I see, when I see the way, you stay yeah

Oh, yeah-yeah, oh, yeah-yeah, when I’m down
Oh, yeah-yeah, oh, yeah-yeah, but I’m down, so down
Oh, my baby, oh, my baby, let me take you there
Come on, come on, oh, let me take you there, let me take you there

Led Zeppelin – Good Times, Bad Times

The first song on Led Zeppelin’s 1968 debut album, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page are the credited songwriters on this track. Jones and Bonham really stand out on this track.

To get the sound on his guitar Page ran his guitar through a Leslie cabinet to make the swirling sound. A Leslie cabinet has a speaker in it that spins and makes the sound swirl. The Beatles and Buddy Guy first used that effect with a guitar in 1965. Before that, it was used mostly with the Hammond Organ.

This song peaked at #80 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

Jimmy Page: “John Paul Jones came up with the riff. I had the chorus. John Bonham applied the bass-drum pattern. That one really shaped our writing process. It was like, ‘Wow, everybody’s erupting at once.”

 

From Songfacts

John Bonham used a device called a “Triplet” on his bass drum for this song to get a double bass pedal sound. He used the tip of his toe to flick the bass pedal back fast, creating an effect many drummers tried to copy. Jimmy Page explained in the BBC Book Guitar Greats, “‘Good Times, Bad Times,’ as usual, came out of a riff with a great deal of John Paul Jones on bass, and it really knocked everybody sideways when they heard the bass drum pattern, because I think everyone was laying bets that Bonzo was using two bass drums, but he only had one.” 

Led Zeppelin played this at their live shows until 1970.

Page put microphones all over the studio to capture a live sound when they recorded this.

When the band reformed for a benefit show on December 10, 2007 with Jason Bonham playing drums in place of his father, this was the first song in the set. Bassist John Paul Jones told Rolling Stone magazine after the show: “That’s the hardest riff I ever wrote, the hardest to play.”

There are some rumors that “Good Times Bad Times” (and “Your Time Is Gonna Come”) was played in its entirety once or twice in 1968 when the group was transitioning from The New Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin. However, there is no recording of this, and there’s no complete version on any of the unofficial live recordings from 1968 to 1980, the closest being inside a “Communication Breakdown” medley on September 4, 1970, in which John Paul Jones played a bass solo. They did play parts of it in different medleys, usually either “Communication Breakdown” or, most often “Whole Lotta Love.” The first recorded instance of the entire song being played by the full band is the 2007 reunion.

Good Times, Bad Times

In the days of my youth
I was told what it was to be a man
Now I’ve reached the age
I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can
No matter how I try
I find my way to do the same old jam

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

Sixteen I fell in love
With a girl as sweet as could be
Only took a couple of days
Till she was rid of me
She swore that she would be all mine
And love me till the end
When I whispered in her ear
I lost another friend

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

I know what it means to be alone
I sure do wish I was at home
I don’t care what the neighbors say
I’m gonna love you each and every day
You can feel the beat within my heart
Realize, sweet babe, we ain’t ever gonna part

Led Zeppelin – Traveling Riverside Blues

This was on their last album Coda after John Bonham died in 1980. Coda was released in 1982 and peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1983.

Led Zeppelin first played this for a BBC session in 1969, but the song was never released on an album. It was placed on the Box Set in 1990, and it was also made a bonus track on the Coda album for the Complete Studio Recordings.

This was written and originally recorded by blues great Robert Johnson. Led Zeppelin borrowed heavily from American blues music…some would say “borrowed” is too kind of word… but they did introduce some of that music to new fans.

 

From Songfacts

Jimmy Page used a 12-string acoustic guitar to play this song. 

In the third verse, it sounds like Robert Plant mistakenly sings “My baby geen bone” instead of ‘My baby been gone.” 

The lyric, “I’ve had no lovin’ since my baby been gone” came from B.B. King’s “Woke Up This Morning (My Baby Was Gone).”

To get the fast bass beats, John Bonham used “triplets” on the bass drum – he would use the tip of his toe.

Traveling Riverside Blues

Asked sweet mama, Let me be her kid
She said, “You might get hurt if you don’t keep it hid”

Well I know my baby, If I see her in the dark
I said I know my rider, If I see her in the dark

Now, I goin’ to Rosedale, Take my rider by my side
Still barrelhouse, If it’s on the riverside, yeah
I know my baby, Lord, I said, “is really sloppy drunk”
I know my mama, Lord, a brownskin, but she ain’t no plum

See my baby, tell her, Tell her hurry home
Had no lovin’, since my baby been gone
See my baby, Tell hurry on home
I ain’t had, Lord, my right mind, Since my rider’s been gone

Hey, she promises, She’s my rider
I wanna tell you, She’s my rider
I know you’re mine, She’s my rider
She ain’t but sixteen, But she’s my rider

I’m goin’ to Rosedale, Take my rider by side
Anybody argue with me man, I’ll keep them satisfied
Well, see my baby, tell her, Tell her the shape I’m in
Ain’t had no lovin’, Lord, since you know when

Spoken: Why don’t you come into my kitchen

She’s a kindhearted lady. She studies evil all the time
She’s a kindhearted woman. She studies evil all the time

Squeeze my lemon ’til the juice runs down my leg
Squeeze it so hard, I’ll fall right out of bed
Squeeze my lemon, ’til the juice runs down my leg

Spoken: I wonder if you know what I’m talkin’ about

Oh, but the way that you squeeze it girl
I swear I’m gonna fall right out of bed

She’s a good rider
She’s my kindhearted lady
I’m gonna take my rider by my side
I said her front teeth are lined with gold
She’s gotta mortgage on my body, got a lien on my soul
She’s my brownskin sugar plum…

Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop

The song really kicks in when John Bonham enters. The song was released as the B side to Black Dog. Misty Mountain Hop didn’t chart but Black Dog did peak at #15 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. Led Zeppelin didn’t like releasing singles and only had 10 songs in the Billboard 100. They wanted fans to buy the complete album and listen to it in context with the other songs.

Led Zeppelin wrote and recorded this at Headley Grange, a mansion with a recording studio in Hampshire, England, where the band sometimes lived. Jimmy Page wrote the song one night while the rest of the band was sleeping.

The song was off the classic Let Zeppelin IV album that was also known as ZoSo, Ruins, 4 Symbols, and Untitled.

This song was about a love-in happening near London that the police came and broke up. Robert Plant said : “It’s about a bunch of hippies getting busted, about the problems you can come across when you have a simple walk in the park on a nice sunny afternoon. In England, it’s understandable, because wherever you go to enjoy yourself, ‘Big Brother’ is not far behind.”

From Songfacts

The Misty Mountains are in Wales. They are referred to in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return Of The King. Plant is a big fan of Tolkien and used references to the Lord Of The Rings series from time to time.

This begins with John Paul Jones playing electric piano.

Robert Plant found himself drawn to Wales and eventually settled in Worcestershire, England, near the Welsh border. “I missed the misty mountains – the wet Welsh climate,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “I like weather people run away from.”

The band performed this at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in 1988 with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father. They played it again with Jason at the 21st birthday party for Robert Plant’s daughter Carmen, and again in 2007 at a London benefit concert for the Ahmet Ertegun education fund.

The 4 Non Blondes recorded this for the 1995 Led Zeppelin tribute album Encomium. It was one of the last songs 4 Non Blondes recorded. They broke up while they were recording their second album.

Misty Mountain Hop

Walkin’ in the park just the other day Baby
What do you what do you think I saw?
Crowds of people sittin’ on the grass with flowers in their hair said
“Hey Boy do you want to score?”

And you know how it is;
I really don’t know what time it was woh oh
So I asked them if I could stay awhile.
I didn’t notice but it had got very dark and I was really

Really out of my mind.
Just then a policeman stepped up to me and asked us said,
“Please, hey, would we care to all get in line,
Get in line.”

Well you know,
They asked us to stay for tea and have some fun,
Oh, oh, he said that his friends would all drop by, ooh.
Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see,

And Baby, Baby, Baby, do you like it?
There you sit, sitting spare like a book on a shelf rustin’
Ah, not trying to fight it.
You really don’t care if they’re coming, oh, oh,

I know that it’s all a state of mind, ooh.
If you go down in the streets today, Baby, you better,
You better open your eyes.
Folk down there really don’t care, really don’t care,

Don’t care, really don’t
Which, which way the pressure lies,
So I’ve decided what I’m gonna do now.
So I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains

Where the spirits go now,
Over the hills where the spirits fly, ooh, I really don’t know.

Led Zeppelin – Night Flight

I once read where a critic said “Night Flight” was a song that would have fit nicely on a Stones album.  I have to agree with him because I can see that.

Led Zeppelin first recorded this song in 1971. it was intended for Led Zeppelin 4, but was put on Physical Graffiti to fill the double album. Most of this song was written by Led Zeppelin’s bass player, John Paul Jones, who is listed first on the writing credits. It is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs with no guitar solo. It is also credited to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

When I listen to Physical Graffiti I always make sure I give this one a listen. This song was not released as a sing because Zeppelin didn’t do that much at all…but I always thought it should have been.

According to Robert Plant…This song is about a man dodging a military draft.

From Songfacts

While there’s no official live recording of the band playing this, bootlegs abound of one time when they did it during a sound check on stage. A different studio version was produced with extra backing vocals.

In the liner notes for the Led Zeppelin box set, Jimmy Page declares: “To be able to fuse all these styles was always my dream in the early stages, but now the composing side of it is just as important.”

In Frank Moriarty’s book Seventies Rock: The Decade of Creative Chaos, Moriarty recounts how critics were less receptive to Zeppelin’s stateside invasion than their fans: “The writers insisted the band’s concerts did little more than placate legions of Quaalude-swallowing, whiskey-and-wine-swilling cretins, a vulgar audience that filled the soulless hockey rinks and municipal auditoriums of the United States – and Led Zeppelin was more to be blamed for the group’s low-rent audiences than praised for their music.” Good thing their reputation recovered, then!

 

Night Flight

I received a message from my brother across the water
He sat laughin’ as he wrote the end’s in sight
So I said goodbye to all my friends
And packed my hopes inside a matchbox
‘Cause I know it’s time to fly

Oh yeah, come on, meet me in the morning
Meet me in the middle of the night
Ah yeah, the morning light is comin’
Don’t it make you want to go and feel alright

I just jumped a train that never stops
So now somehow I’ll know I never finished payin’ for my ride
Just n’ someone pushed a gun into my hand
Tell me I’m the type of man to fight the fight that I’ll require

Oh yeah, come on, meet me in the morning
Want you meet me in the middle of the night
The morning light is comin’
Don’t it make you want to go and feel alright

Oh, mama, well I think it’s time I’m leavin’
Nothin’ here to make me stay
Whoa, mama, well it must be time I’m goin’
They’re knockin’ down them doors
They’re tryin’ to take me away

Please Mr. Brakeman, won’t you ring your bell
And ring loud and clear
Please Mr. Fireman, won’t you ring your bell
Tell the people they got to fly away from here

I once saw a picture of a lady with a baby
Southern lady, had a very, very special smile
We are in the middle of a change in destination
When the train stops, all together we will smile
Oh, come on, come on now meet me in the morning
Won’t you meet me in the middle of the night, night, night
Oh oh, yeah, everybody know the mornin’ time is comin’
Don’t it make you want to feel alright
Ah, ah, yeah, make me feel alright
Fly now, baby
Get to fly, yeah
Fly now, baby
Oh, hey, hey

Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin, and Beyond–The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manager… by Mark Blake

I had a business trip this past week driving a car for at least 10 hours to and from Atlanta and finished up this audiobook about the legendary manager Peter Grant. I have read one book about Grant by Chris Welch but I like this one better. Both of Grant’s kids were interviewed by author Mark Blake and they gave a perspective and info that has never been shared.

Grant had been a van driver, bouncer, stagehand, wrestler, and Don Arden’s assistant. He was 6’3″ and at one time over 300lbs… He road managed the tough and a little crazy Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and The Animals before he took over the Yardbirds which then turned into Led Zeppelin.

Grant changed the music business across the board. The promoters would enjoy a 60/40 split and better until Grant. He changed it all to 90/10 split with the artists actually getting the windfall instead of the promoters. His saying was 10 percent of Zeppelin was better than nothing. Now it is an industry-standard. The one other manager that I have read about is Brian Epstein who managed the Beatles. Grant and Epstein were complete opposites except for one thing. There was nothing they would not do for their respective bands. They were both loyal and trustworthy with the band’s finances unlike other band’s managers at the time. That is where the comparison ends.

Grant indeed was loyal to a fault…but he did business by suggestion and intimidation. Pouring water in bootleggers tape recorders, smashing film cameras by fans at concerts, and threating anyone that got in Zeppelin’s way or anyone who might be getting something they shouldn’t. He added to their already dark reputation. He started a Zeppelin label in the mid-seventies called Swan Song and signed Bad Company. He became their co-manager and traveled with them when Zeppelin wasn’t touring. He was even asked by Queen in 1975 if he could manage them…he turned them down because he didn’t have the time.

After Bonham died it became close to impossible to get him on the phone. His drug intake, already heavy, escalated during the early eighties. He did eventually get clean, lose weight, and turn into a living legend and he tried to be an English gentleman.

The book moves at a good pace and it goes over the hype and myths that Grant and Page built for Zeppelin.

If you are a Zeppelin fan or a fan of rock in the seventies it’s a good read. Although Grant could be tough, intimidating, and frankly scary at times…he did have a soft side for his family and of course…Led Zeppelin. I would give it 4.5 stars.

I did learn a new name for a certain drug… “Peruvian Marching Powder”

 

Led Zeppelin – Tangerine

This song and Hey Hey What Can I Do are my top two favorite Zeppelin songs.

Jimmy Page wrote this and first recorded it when he was still with The Yardbirds. I’ve read where Yardbirds singer Keith Relf wrote some of the lyrics originally and was given some of the credit but the record company turned it down for release. Later on, Jimmy would use it on the 3rd Zeppelin album with his lyrics.

This was the last Zeppelin song Page wrote without any input from Robert Plant. It’s also the only track on Led Zeppelin III for which Plant didn’t write the lyrics.

At the time the album got mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Many fans wanted the same heavy albums as the first two. This album had a mix and they perfected it on their next album.

This was used at the end of the 2000 movie Almost Famous in a scene where a bus drives away…I thought the song was brilliant in that scene in the movie.

From Songfacts

Robert Plant would sometimes introduce this at concerts by saying: “This song is for our families and friends and people we’ve been close to. It’s a song of love at its most innocent stages.”

Jimmy Page played a pedal steel guitar on this track. He told Guitar Player magazine in 1977: “On the first LP there’s a pedal steel. I had never played steel before, but I just picked it up. There’s a lot of things I do first time around that I haven’t done before. In fact, I hadn’t touched a pedal steel from the first album to the third. It’s a bit of a pinch really from the things that Chuck Berry did. Nevertheless, it fits. I use pedal steel in ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come.’ It sounds like a slide or something. It’s more out of tune on the first album because I hadn’t got a kit to put it together.”

Why does this song fade to silence a few seconds in? Jimmy Page explained when previewing the song for Melody Maker in 1970: “That’s commonly known as a false start. It was a tempo guide, and it seemed like a good idea to leave it in – at the time. I was trying to keep the tempo down a bit. I’m not so sure now it was a good idea. Everybody asks what the hell is going on.”

Led Zeppelin played this during acoustic sets on their early tours.

This was the second Zeppelin song named after a fruit. “The Lemon Song” was the first.

According to Jimmy Page, this song was dedicated to Jackie DeShannon, who was his girlfriend when he wrote the song. DeShannon, a member of the Songwriting Hall of Fame, had hits as a singer with “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

This was recorded on April 4, 1968 at one of the last studio sessions for The Yardbirds, under the title “Knowing That I’m Losing You.” This first version performed by The Yardbirds, featured music almost identical to “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin, but with different lyrics (vocals by Keith Relf), and was never officially released. It was supposed to be included on the Cumular Limit compilation (which was released in 2000), together with other materials from the same sessions, but interestingly enough, Page vetoed the release of the song. Since then, the version from The Yardbirds has leaked onto the internet, and Page has been accused of ripping off a Yardbirds composition, simply changing the majority of the lyrics (probably initially written by Keith Relf) in order to avoid any problem with the other members of his previous group. This would explain his veto against the release of the original song. It is not easy to ascertain the above, as the remaining members of The Yardbirds haven’t spoken about the subject so far.

 

Tangerine

Measuring a summer’s day, I only finds it slips away to grey
The hours, they bring me pain

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

Thinking how it used to be
Does she still remember times like these?
To think of us again?
And I do

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

When Giants Walked The Earth…. by Mick Wall

I read this book about Led Zeppelin over a year ago…and recently while waiting for a Beatles book to get released I  went through it again. The book is much better than The Hammer Of The Gods released in the 80s. There are many things in this book that I didn’t know. Overall I liked it…but..

Mick Wall would do these interludes that are supposed to be some kind of interior monologue by the protagonists (but in second person). The book is well researched and he would be going along great and then all of a sudden he would try to get into each member’s head and have a monologue (in cockney many times) on what they were thinking at that moment…I don’t care how much you researched someone you do not know what they were thinking at that time.

He would sprinkle these monologues out so it’s not like they are the entire book but it was totally unnecessary to me…and it was annoying.

Here is a small example of a Jimmy Page interlude…and “G” is Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant.  Now it’s down to just the two of you, Jimmy and G. And of course, the name, for what it’s still worth: the Yardbirds. Or maybe the New Yardbirds – G’s suggestion. That way, at least, it won’t be like starting again from scratch, he says. Not entirely, anyway. And you can still get paying gigs. Keep the wolf from the door until you can come up with something better. That’s the plan anyway, this long, rainy summer of 1968…

From 1968 to 1980 Led Zeppelin were together and left a giant legacy and myth behind. The book is solid and I found out many things I didn’t already know. I am a fan of some of their music…the less indulgent side of them anyway. I’m not the person who wants to listen to a 25-minute live version of No Quarter.

The author does go in-depth about Page’s infatuation of black magic and the dark image of the band. He also goes into the songwriting and about how they got the sound they did…so he covers the personalities, the music, and events that happened.

Things were going great for them until 1975 when Robert Plant was in a car wreck with his family and from that point on everything started to go downhill. This book covers everything you would want and it covers what happened after John Bonham died. They did think about regrouping many times through the decades but it was always Robert who had doubts…and after what he went through I cannot blame him. His wife was almost killed in the car wreck and Plant’s leg was badly hurt…then when he recovered his young son (Karac) died of a stomach virus and 3 years later Bonham died.

After Zeppelin unlike Plant and Jones, Jimmy Page didn’t adjust as well to life without the band. The book was written in 2009 and he does cover the O2 Arena reunion.

If you are a Led Zeppelin fan or a fan of classic rock through the seventies…this is a good book. Out of five stars, I would give it 3.75 out of 5 for the information it gives…without the monologues, I would consider a 5.

 

 

My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

Image result for Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park

8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

Image result for George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh

 

7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

Image result for The Band: The Last Waltz album

6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

Image result for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’

4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

Image result for the rolling stones get yer ya-ya's out

2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

Image result for bob dylan 1966 royal albert hall concert

1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Led Zeppelin – The Ocean

“We’ve done four already but now we’re steady and then they went: One, two, three, four”

This song has a great guitar riff that carries the song along with the drums. It’s been said that the Ocean referred to was the fans as they were seen by the band on the stage. In the last line, the Girl who won my heart is Robert Plant’s daughter Carmen, who was 3 years old at the time.

This song was off of the Houses of the Holy album released in 1973. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Charts, #1 in the UK, and #1 in Canada. The band didn’t release many singles but this one was released and managed to peak at #8 in Germany.

Bonham and Jones make a rare appearance on backing vocals for the outro.

This song was #14 on Rolling Stones 40 greatest Led Zeppelin songs.

From Songfacts

The voice on the intro is drummer John Bonham. When he says, “We’ve done four already, but now we’re steady and then they went, 1… 2… 3… 4…,” he is referring to the takes. They had tried to record it 4 times prior but couldn’t get it right, so as a pep talk he said his famous line. 

This is one of the few Zeppelin songs where all four members shared the writing credit.

Robert Plant used parts of this for his solo song “Tall Cool One.”

The Beastie Boys sampled this on “She’s Crafty.” It wasn’t their first use of Zeppelin – they took some of Bonham’s drums from “When The Levee Breaks” for “Rhymin’ And Stealin’.”

It can barely be heard due to all the guitar overdubs, but during the last minute or so, John Paul Jones and John Bonham sing for one of the only times on a Zeppelin album. They are harmonizing the phrase “Doo wop.” 

If you listen carefully, you can hear a phone ringing in the studio at 1:37-1:38 and again (second ring) around 1:41. 

The lyrics about “The Hellhound” refer to Blues musician Robert Johnson, who according to legend, sold his soul to the devil. On the lyrics sheet that came with the album, the word “hellhound” was replaced with “high hopes hailla.” 

The Ocean

“We’ve done four already but now we’re steady
And then they went: One, two, three, four”

Singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain
Hitting on the moonshine, rocking in the grain
Got no time to pack my bags, my foots outside the door
I got a date, I can’t be late, for the high hopes hailla ball, uh uh, uh uh, yeah

Singing to an ocean, I can hear the ocean’s roar
Play for free, I play for me and play a whole lot more, more!
Singing about the good things and the sun that lights the day
I used to sing on the mountains, has the ocean lost its way

I don’t know, oh oh, yeah’

Ooh, yeah

Sitting round singing songs ’til the night turns into day
Used to sing about the mountains but the mountains washed away
Now I’m singing all my songs to the girl who won my heart
She is only three years old and it’s a real fine way to start

Oh yeah!

It sure is fine!
Ah blow my mind!
When the tears are goin’ down! 
Yeah! Yeah, yeah

Oh so, oh so, oh so good!
Oh so good!