Friends (Led Zeppelin song)
|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin III|
|Released||5 October 1970|
|Recorded||May - August 1970|
|Genre||Folk rock, psychedelic folk|
|Writer||Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones (string arrangement, uncredited)|
|Led Zeppelin III track listing|
"Friends" is the second track from the 1970 album Led Zeppelin III, the third studio album of English rock band Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote the song in 1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, a small cottage in Wales where they stayed after completing a grueling concert tour of the United States.
The song starts out with a little noodling and studio chatter. Peter Grant's voice can be heard in the background, of the right channel, before the guitars of Jimmy Page kick in. The guitar tuning for the song is an open-C6 chord (C-A-C-G-C-E). The same tuning was used by Page on the track "Bron-Yr-Aur" (which was recorded during these same sessions), as well as the song "Poor Tom". Page used an Altair Tube Limiter to enhance the acoustic quality of his Harmony guitar, a device recommended to him by acoustic guitarist Dick Rosemenie. This same device was later used by Page on "All My Love", which was included on Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door album.
"Friends" is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs that includes strings. Bass player John Paul Jones did the string arrangement. Jones, however, received no writing credit for this song despite being entirely responsible for its string arrangement.
The outro to "Friends" includes a Moog synthesizer, which provides a link to the next track on the album, "Celebration Day". The only known live performance of the song by Led Zeppelin was on 29 September 1971 in Osaka, during the band's Japanese concert tour, as exhibited on a number of Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings of the show. If listened to closely, Page can be heard asking Plant if he wanted to perform the song when John Bonham had returned from unknown activities backstage.
A jazz critic noted the striking similarity of "Friends" to the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song "Carry On", which was released earlier in 1970. Both songs musically are different - In 'Carry On' the opening chord shifts between a simple major and suspended fourth, whereas in 'Friends' the melody shifts between a third, a flat fifth and a fifth.
Re-releases and re-recordings
The song was re-recorded by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra in 1972, during their trip to India, along with another track, "Four Sticks" from Led Zeppelin IV. This version featured tabla drums and sitars. The recordings have never been released officially and are only available on bootlegs. The project is said to have run into problems because Page complained that the orchestra didn't keep time in the Western style and some of them drank rather a lot. "Friends" was also recorded by Page and Plant on their 1994 release No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded, accompanied by a Middle-Eastern orchestra.
- Robert Plant - vocals, harmonica
- Jimmy Page - guitars
- John Paul Jones - bass guitar, Moog synthesizer, strings arrangement
- John Bonham - percussion
- 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
- Phil Sutcliffe, "Back to Nature", Q Magazine Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003, p. 34.
- Page 92: Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
- Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
- Keith Shadwick (2005), Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0879308710, p. 132.
- Liner notes to Led Zeppelin Box Set, Vol. 2 by David Fricke
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)