Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

As with a lot of Zeppelin songs…it’s the riff…that riff is a beautiful thing. It’s not a complex one like Black Dog but it works.

Houses Of The Holy is the name of Led Zeppelin’s fifth album, released in 1973. This song was going to be on it, but they decided to hold it back and use it on their next album, Physical Graffiti. I never understood that…Page has said that the song didn’t fit with the Houses of the Holy album’s other songs.

The song supposedly refers to the spiritual feel of their concerts.

In order to create the layered guitar introduction and fade-out, Page used a Delta T digital delay unit.

Delta-T 102 - Lexicon Delta-T 102 - Audiofanzine

Despite being a fan favorite and about their shows, this was never performed live. For all you audiophiles out there…The squeak of John Bonham’s drum pedal can be heard about 3 minutes in.

The song was not released as a single… the album Physical Graffiti peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1975. The song was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. 

Houses of the Holy

Let me take you to the movies
Can I take you to the show
Let me be yours ever truly
Can I make your garden grow

From the houses of the holy, we can watch the white doves go
From the door comes satan’s daughter, and it only goes to show, you know

There’s an angel on my shoulder, in my hand a sword of gold
Let me wander in your garden and the seeds of love I’ll sow you know

So the world is spinning faster are you dizzy when you’re stoned
Let the music be your master will you heed the master’s call
Oh Satan and man

Said there ain’t no use in crying ’cause it will only, only drive you mad
Does it hurt to hear them lying?
Was this the only world you had? oh oh

So let me take you, take you to the movie
Can I take you, baby, to the show
Why don’t you let me be yours ever truly
Can I make your garden grow, you know

Led Zeppelin – Hot Dog

This song is for Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt…Bird/Cat/Dog/Fish/Pet…I hope everyone has a good Sunday and turns up Hot Dog!

I know some Zeppelin fans that don’t like this song. I guess it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. I love playing that intro on guitar. The intro sounds like a square dance riff from hell. Robert Plant does a great rockabilly vocal and they have the echo set perfectly.

This one is a fun song that Zeppelin sounds like they had a good time recording. Led Zeppelin played this live at the 1979 appearance at Knebworth and 1980 tour in Europe.

The song was on the album In Through The Out Door and it peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, The UK, and New Zealand. The song was the B side to Fool In The Rain. The song was written by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

A promotional video was shot. This was the closest Led Zeppelin came to a music video.

From Songfacts

This was influenced by American rockabilly music, which Robert Plant enjoyed. A hot dog is distinctly American cuisine.

Led Zeppelin had some heavy songs, but this was a fun, rollicking tune at a tough time for the band. Plant’s 5-year-old son, Karac, died in 1977 and they were all worn out from constant touring and recording.

The lyrics about a girl in Texas who “Took my heart” may have been based on a real woman in Plant’s life, but he called this a tribute to Texas and the state of mind of the people in Texas.

On a particularly cold day at a turn of the 20th century New York baseball game, no one was buying concessionaire Harry Stevens’ ice cream, so he begun selling sausages and rolls. He started calling out, “Red hot dachshund sausages!” and found they were very popular. Thomas “Tad” Dorgan, a sports cartoonist for The New York Journal, was in the press box and seeing this he attempted to draw a cartoon of a barking sausage steaming in its stretched out roll. He didn’t know how to spell “Dachshund,” so he wrote “hot dog” instead, a name which immediately caught on. (from the book Food for Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce)

Hot Dog

(Oh, hot dog)
Well, I just got into town today
To find my girl who’s gone away
She took the Greyhound at the general store
I searched myself I searched the town
When I finally did sit down
I find myself no wiser than before

She said we couldn’t do no wrong
No other love could be so strong
She locked up my heart in her bottom drawer
Now she took my heart she took my keys
From in my old blue dungarees
And I’ll never go to Texas anymore

Now my baby’s gone I don’t know what to do
She took my love and walked right out the door
And if I ever find that girl I know one thing for sure
I’m gonna give her something like she never had before

I took her love at seventeen
A little late these days it seems
But they said heaven is well worth waiting for
I took her word I took it all
Beneath the sign that said “you-haul”
She left angels hangin’ round for more

Now my baby’s gone I don’t know what to do
She took my love and walked right out the door
And if I ever find that girl I know one thing for sure
I’m gonna give her something like she never had before

I thought I had it all sewn up
Our love, a plot, a pick-up truck
But folks said she was after something more
I never did quite understand
All that talk about rockin’ bands
But they just rolled my doll right out the door
Oh yeah, they just rolled my doll right out the door
But they just rolled my doll right out the door

Led Zeppelin – Black Dog

The guitar intro is instantly recognizable and although I’ve heard it so many times I still like it.

Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones got the idea for this song after hearing Muddy Waters’ 1968 album Electric Mud. He wanted to try to write electric blues with a rolling bass part.

The song was credited to Jones, Plant, and Page. the song was on what was known as their greatest album Led Zeppelin IV. It was recorded at Headley Grange a then run down country cottage. It was originally built in 1795 as a  three-storey stone structure which was originally used as a workhouse for the poor, infirm, and orphaned.

The album Led Zeppelin IV was a major success and peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, and #1 in the UK.

On a rough wall hangs a painting of an elderly man in a field with a large bundle of sticks tied to his back.

Jimmy Page on recording in Headley Grange: “The reason we went there in the first place, was to have a live-in situation where you’re writing and really living the music. We’d never really had that experience before as a group, apart from when Robert Plant and I had gone to Bron-Yr-Aur. But that was just me and Robert going down there and hanging out in the bosom of Wales and enjoying it. This was different. It was all of us really concentrating in a concentrated environment and the essence of what happened there manifested itself across three albums (IVHouses of the HolyPhysical Graffiti).”

It was unusual for a Zeppelin song because it was released as a single and peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100, #11 in Canada, and #10 in New Zealand. It was not issued as a single in the UK.

John Paul Jones: “I actually wrote it in rehearsal from Jimmy’s house on the train. My dad was a musician and he showed me a way of writing down notation on anything. And so I wrote the riff to ‘Black Dog’ on the back of a train ticket which I unfortunately don’t have.”

Andy Johns (Engineer): “It was more fun and more serious than for Led Zeppelin III. We mainly recorded it in Headley Grange – a haunted place – using the Rolling Stones mobile recording unit. The rest of the album was produced at Island studios, an old church. We recorded the main tracks for ‘Black Dog’ downstairs, in what used to be the crypt. The main tracks for ‘Stairway To Heaven’ were recorded in the big room upstairs.”

From Songfacts

The title does not appear in the lyrics, and has nothing to do with the song itself. The band worked up the song at Headley Grange, a mansion in Hampshire, England that is out in the country, surrounded by woods. A nameless black Labrador retriever would wander the grounds, and the band would feed it. When they needed a name for this track, which didn’t have an obvious title, they thought of the canine and went with “Black Dog.”

Jones rarely had completed songs together, but the bits and pieces he brought to Led Zeppelin’s writing sessions proved worthy. When they started putting the album together, Jones introduced this riff, the song started to form. The first version Jones played was comically complex. “It was originally all in 3/16 time, but no one could keep up with that,” he said.

When the mobile recording studio (owned by The Rolling Stones) showed up at the mansion, this song was ready to go and recorded there.

This is the first track on Led Zeppelin 4, which became the band’s best-selling album. A wide range of musical styles show up on the set, with “Black Dog” exemplifying the blues-rock that was the bedrock of the band’s sound.

The album itself is technically untitled, with symbols on the cover instead of words., but since it was their fourth album, it became known as Led Zeppelin 4. Some fans also referred to it as “ZoSo,” which is a rough translation Jimmy Page’s symbol.

In this song, Robert Plant is singing about a woman who appeals to his prurient interests, but is clearly no good for him – he tells himself he’d rather have a “steady rollin’ woman” come his way.

Robert Plant explained in an interview with Cameron Crowe: “Not all my stuff is meant to be scrutinized. Things like ‘Black Dog’ are blatant, let’s-do-it-in-the-bath type things, but they make their point just the same.”

The start-and-stop a cappella verses were inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 song “Oh Well.” Before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, they were more of a Blues band led by guitarist Peter Green. Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes performed “Oh Well” on their 1999 tour and included it on the album Live At The Greek.

The lyrics never approached “Stairway To Heaven” level scrutiny, but were still subject to some interesting interpretations. Jimmy Page’s interest in the occultist Aleister Crowley, combined with the image of the Hermit (from the Tarot) in the album art and the band’s disappearance when they set off to Headley Grange to record, led some listeners to conclude that the titular dog was some kind of hellhound, and that the line, “Eyes that shine burning red, dreams of you all through my head,” had something to do with Satan.

The sounds at the beginning are Jimmy Page warming up his guitar. He called it “Waking up the army of guitars.”

Even by Led Zeppelin standards, this is a very complex song musically, with a chaotic blend of riffs and time signatures that make it very difficult to play and a testament to the band’s musicianship. When the drums and guitar kick in, they’re actually playing completely different patterns, which is something devised by John Paul Jones. The only real consistent element in the song are the vocal interludes. This is not a song you’d want to dance to.

The songwriting credits on this one read: John Paul Jones/Jimmy Page/Robert Plant. Some bands – like U2 and R.E.M. – would credit every member on their original songs, but Zeppelin decided amongst themselves who would get the credits (and associated royalties). Page and Plant were almost always listed (Plant handled lyrics), but whether Jones or Bonham showed up as a writer depended on their contributions. This track was one where Jones clearly deserved a credit; he is also listed on the album as a co-writer of “Rock And Roll,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and “When The Levee Breaks.”

Robert Plant’s vocal was recorded in just two takes, marking one of his most memorable performances. His vocal booth was the drawing room at the Headley Grange mansion, which engineer Andy Johns set up with egg crates covering the walls as a sound-soak.

The guitars are heavily layered. Four separate Jimmy Page guitar tracks were overdubbed. Page recorded the guitar directly into a 1176 limiter preamp (manufactured by Universal Audio), distorted the stages of it, and then sent that to a normally operating limiter. In other words, no guitar amplifier was used in the recording process. 

Plant sampled this on his solo hit “Tall Cool One.”

“Whole Lotta Love” made #4 on the US Hot 100, and “Black Dog” was their next highest-charting song. Most of their tracks were not released as singles, and fans of the band were far more likely buy the albums.

As Robert Plant sings every line after the music stops, you can faintly hear Bonham tapping his drumsticks together to keep the time. 

This was one of the few songs for which John Paul Jones used a pick to play his bass.

Robert Plant would sometimes improvise some of the lyrics in concert, substituting lines like, “I’ve got a girl that loves me so love me so sweet jelly roll.” >>

This isn’t the first famous rock song with a color-animal title that doesn’t appear in the lyric: Jefferson Airplane released “White Rabbit” in 1967. In 1977, Steely Dan gave us “Black Cow,” but that one does have the title in the lyric.

Apparently, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas can knock out a killer version of this song. Slash from Guns N’ Roses told NME, March 22, 2010: “I first heard Fergie three years ago at a fundraiser in LA, where I was one of many guests with the Black-Eyed Peas. I was going to play during a rock medley, and in walks this little blonde girl from Orange County, and she sang ‘Black Dog‚’ better than any guy I’d ever heard.” 

Note the lyrics, “Baby, when you walk that way, watch your honey drip, can’t keep away.” In 1981, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page formed a group called The Honeydrippers, which scored a hit with a remake of “Sea of Love.”

Page and Plant performed an updated version of this song on their 1995 No Quarter tour. Starting in 2005, Plant added it to his setlist at solo performances. His solo renditions were more subdued vocally, but often rather intricate musically, with a range of world music elements incorporated into the song.

Led Zeppelin cover band Dread Zeppelin did a version of this mixed with Elvis’ “Hound Dog” called “You Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Black Dog.” Their lead singer is an Elvis impersonator.

In 2015, this was used in a commercial for the video game Destiny: The Taken King. Game action takes place as the song plays in the background.

Johns explained how “Black Dog” was recorded: “This one is interesting, because we trebled the guitars. On the stereo, there is one on the left, one on the right, and one in the middle. Each was recorded live. I wanted to try live recording, because I loved the sound that Bill Halverson had secured using this technique with Neil Young. Halverson had told me how he had done that, but I never achieved his results. One day, we were hanging around in the studio, and I told Page that I wanted to try something. For some reason, it worked. The guitars were very reliable.” 

Black Dog

Hey, hey mama said the way you move
Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove
Ah ah child way ya shake that thing
Gon’ make you burn, gon’ make you sting
Hey, hey baby when you walk that way
Watch your honey drip, I can’t keep away

Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah

I gotta roll I can’t stand still
Got a flamin’ heart can’t get my fill
With eyes that shine, burnin’ red
Dreams of you all through my head

Ah ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah

Hey baby, whoa my baby, my pretty baby
Darlin’ makes ’em do it now
Hey baby, oh my baby, my pretty baby
Move the way you’re doin’ now

Didn’t take too long ‘fore I found out
What people mean by down and out
Spent my money, took my car
Started tellin’ her friends she gon’ be a star
I don’t know but I been told
A big legged woman ain’t got no soul

Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, ah ah
Oh yeah, oh yeah ah, ah, yeah

All I ask for all I pray
Steady rollin’ woman gon’ come my way
Need a woman gonna hold my hand
Won’t tell me no lies, make me a happy man

Ah ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah ah, ah

Oh yeah
Darlin’ makes ’em do it now
Yeah-yeah. yeah-yeah. yeah-yeah
Darlin’ makes ’em do it now
Babe! babe!
Wooh, keep doin’ it babe

(Busted) hey
(Busted) hey
(Busted) hey
(Busted) hey

(Busted) hey, yeah
(Busted) hey, yeah
(Busted) hey, yeah
Oh, yeah

Oh-ah
(Well done)

Darlin’ makes ’em do it now
Darlin’ makes ’em do it now

Led Zeppelin – Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just A Woman)

I forgot to post this yesterday with Heartbreaker so I thought I would get it in today.

I’ve always liked this song tacked on the end of Heartbreaker. This is a song about a groupie who bothered the band in their earlier days. She was a much older woman claiming and acting like she was really young. Radio stations would usually play both of these together. This was released as the B-side of “Whole Lotta Love.”

Zeppelin never played this song live because Jimmy Page hated it. Robert Plant played it on his solo tour in 1990.

The album Led Zeppelin II peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, the UK, and Canada in 1969.

It was rare when Jimmy Page did backup vocals…he did on this song.

And both together

Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just A Woman)

With a purple umbrella and a fifty cent hat,
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.
Missus cool rides out in her aged Cadillac.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.

*Come on, babe on the round about, ride on the merry-go-round,
We all know what your name is, so you better lay your money down.

Alimony, alimony payin’ your bills,
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.
When your conscience hits, you knock it back with pills.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.

* Chorus

Tellin’ tall tales of how it used to be.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.
With the butler and the maid and the servants three.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.

Nobody hears a single word you say.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.
But you keep on talkin’ till your dyin’ day.
Livin’, lovin’, she’s just a woman.

* Chorus

Livin’, Lovin’, She’s just a woman.

Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker

I talk about this a lot but this guitar riff is great and makes the song for me. I like how they ease into Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just a Woman).

Heartbreaker was ranked number 328 in 2004 by Rolling Stone magazine, in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was  credited to all four members of the band, “Heartbreaker” was produced by Jimmy Page and engineered by Eddie Kramer.

The solo is something different in this song. Jimmy Page does not play it with the band. He plays it by himself in a break in the song. Page didn’t find out until years later that the solo was in a different pitch than the rest of the song…but it sounded great.

The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, the UK, and Canada in 1969.

Eddie Van Halen: I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his “Heartbreaker” solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string … pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.

Jimmy Page: “The interesting thing about the solo is that it was recorded after we had already finished ‘Heartbreaker’ – it was an afterthought. That whole section was recorded in a different studio and it was sort of slotted in the middle.”

Eddie Krammer: “I met Page for the first time in Pye studios when I was working on sessions of The Kinks. Page had earned a certain reputation as a studio guitarist. I also worked with John Paul Jones on a few sessions, and we became friends. Jones was a brilliant musician. He wrote arrangements for chord orchestras and he could play many instruments extremely well. Before I left England to work with Jimi Hendrix at Record Plant studio in New York, in April 1968, Jonesy had invited me at his place to have me listen to a few demos of his new group, Led Zeppelin. I remember it sounded very heavy, and I was surprised that Jimmy Page played guitar because I didn’t know they were friends. Jonesy was very proud of John Bonham, an ex-mason from the north of England who could hit it hard on the drums, as well as of Robert Plant, their wild singer. While I wasn’t convinced by the name they had chosen, I wished them good luck. Then in ’69, I was working at Electric Lady studios when I received a call from Steve Weiss, Jimi’s right-hand man, saying that Led Zeppelin was in town. Page called later to tell he wanted I help him release what they had recorded and to make a few more tracks. Led Zeppelin had been a major success for Atlantic and they were urging Jimmy to finish the second album. Their schedule however wasn’t very arranging. So we ended up listening, doubling, recording and mixing in many different studios around New York, including Groove Sound, a nice R&B 8-track studio.

From Songfacts

This opens Side 2 of Led Zeppelin II and goes right into “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (she’s just a woman)” on the album. Radio stations usually play them together, but “Maid” was never performed live by Led Zeppelin.

A crowd favorite, Led Zeppelin sometimes opened live shows with it.

At concerts, Jimmy Page would stretch out the guitar solo and incorporate bits of other songs, like “Greensleeves,” “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” and Bach’s “Bouree in C minor.”

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones performed this at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in 1988 with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father.

Led Zeppelin opened many of their live shows in 1971 and 1972 with “Immigrant Song,” followed by a segue right into this. 

Eddie Kramer, sound engineer on Led Zeppelin II, told Guitare & Claviers in 1994 how he ended up working on the album:

Heartbreaker

Hey fellas have you heard the news?
You know that Annie’s back in town?
It won’t take long just watch and see
How the fellas lay their money down

Her style is new but the face is the same
As it was so long ago
But from her eyes a different smile
Like that of one who knows

Well it’s been ten years and maybe more
Since I first set eyes on you
The best years of my life gone by
Here I am alone and blue

Some people cry and some people die
By the wicked ways of love
But I’ll just keep on rollin’ along
With the grace of the Lord above

People talkin’ all around ’bout the way you left me flat
I don’t care what the people say, I know where their jive is at
One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do
It’s the way you call me by another guy’s name when I try to make love to you, yeah

I try to make love but it ain’t no use
Give it to me, give it

Work so hard I couldn’t unwind
Get some money saved
Abuse my love a thousand times
However hard I tried

Heartbreaker, your time has come
Can’t take your evil way
Go away heartbreaker
Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker
Heartbreaker

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