|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album In Through the Out Door|
|Released||15 August 1979|
|Genre||Progressive rock, hard rock|
|In Through the Out Door track listing|
"Carouselambra" is the fifth track on Led Zeppelin's 1979 album, In Through the Out Door. The name Carouselambra is a reference to the first section of the song sounding similar to carousel music. It is the second-longest song the band recorded in the studio (after "In My Time of Dying"), clocking in at more than 10 minutes in length.
"Carouselambra" was conceived during the band's rehearsals at Clearwell Castle in May 1978. The song itself is split in three sections. The first section is a fast-paced showcase of Jones on synthesizer (he overdubbed a bass guitar part), with Robert Plant's vocals mixed down slightly underneath Jones, the drums of John Bonham and Page's guitar chord progression. The second section is much slower in pace, highlighting Page's use of the Gibson EDS-1275 double-necked guitar, the only time he used that instrument on a Led Zeppelin studio song, while Plant sings some reflective lyrics. The final section returns to an up-tempo beat, with all four band members performing in unison. Page's deep, droning guitar sound was produced with a Gizmotron, a device that creates indefinite sustain, weird harmonics, and allows the guitar to sound like a string section.
The song is in standard 4/4 timing in the key of A major, although there are various instances of modulation to C, D, F, and G major. The lyrics to the first section of the song follow a rough "ABAB" rhythmical format. In the second and third sections of the song the format changes along with the instruments.
Plant's vocals, particularly in the first section of the song, are somewhat buried in the mix and the words are difficult to discern. According to an interview Plant gave in 1979, the song was about someone who, when one day realising the song was written about them, would say, "My God! Was it really like that?" Plant has also said that the lyrics are related to "The Battle of Evermore" with clues at the end where he sings "Take of the fruit, but guard the seed."
"Carouselambra" was never played live by the band at Led Zeppelin concerts. John Paul Jones once stated that his original idea for the song was for it to be used as a "centrepiece" of their live shows, using it as a medium between songs as they moved from one to the other. The band planned to perform the song on their 1980 North American tour, and rehearsed it on the day that drummer John Bonham died. During the 1995-96 Page and Plant tour, Plant would often sing the middle verse of the song when he and Page performed "In the Evening".
"Carouselambra" was played over the opening and closing credits for "Video Concert Hall", a late night precursor to MTV, in the late 1970s. It originally aired on the Satellite Program Network (SPN), and later on USA.
- Robert Plant - vocals
- Jimmy Page - guitars
- John Paul Jones - bass guitar, keyboards
- John Bonham - drums
- 1999: Prague Collective (String Quartet Tribute to Led Zeppelin) Performed by Riki T. Tavi
- Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
- Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
- Cross, Charles R. (2009) Led Zeppelin: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls, ISBN 978-0-06-180914-9