Immigrant Song

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"Immigrant Song"
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin III
B-side "Hey Hey What Can I Do"
Released 5 November 1970
Recorded May–August 1970
Genre Hard rock,[1][2] heavy metal[3]
Length 2:25, 2:23 (single version)
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Whole Lotta Love" / "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"
(1969)
"Immigrant Song" / "Hey Hey What Can I Do"
(1970)
"Black Dog" / "Misty Mountain Hop"
(1971)
Led Zeppelin III track listing
"Immigrant Song"
(1)
"Friends"
(2)
Audio sample
file info · help

"Immigrant Song" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released as a single from their third studio album, Led Zeppelin III, in 1970.

Overview[edit]

The song begins with a distinctive, wailing cry from vocalist Robert Plant and is built around a repeating, staccato Jimmy Page/John Paul Jones/John Bonham riff in the key of F# minor. There is a very faint count-off at the beginning of the track with lots of hiss which appears on the album version, but is trimmed from the single version. The hiss is feedback from an echo unit.[4]

"Immigrant Song" was written during Led Zeppelin's tour of Iceland, Bath and Germany in the summer of 1970. The opening date of this tour took place in Reykjavík, Iceland, which inspired Plant to write the song. As he explained:

We weren't being pompous ... We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be cancelled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. "Immigrant Song" was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.[5]

Just six days after Led Zeppelin's appearance in Reykjavik, the band performed the song for the first time on stage during the Bath Festival.[6]

The song's lyrics are written from the perspective of Vikings rowing west from Scandinavia in search of new lands. The lyrics make explicit reference to Viking conquests and the Old Norse religion (Fight the horde, sing and cry, Valhalla, I am coming!). In a 1970 radio interview, Plant jokingly recalled:

We went to Iceland, and it made you think of Vikings and big ships... and John Bonham's stomach... and bang, there it was - Immigrant Song![4]

"Immigrant Song" is one of Led Zeppelin's few single releases, having been released in November 1970 by their record label, Atlantic Records. It reached #16 on the Billboard charts.[4] Its B side, "Hey Hey What Can I Do", was otherwise unavailable before the release of the band's first boxed set in 1990. The single was also mistakenly released in Japan with "Out on the Tiles" as the B-side rather than "Hey Hey What Can I Do." That single is now a rare collectible.

First pressings of the US single of the song have a quote from Aleister Crowley inscribed in dead wax by the run-out groove: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."[7]

One of the lines from the song became part of Led Zeppelin lore. The line, "The hammer of the gods/will drive our ships to new lands" prompted some people to start referring to Led Zeppelin's sound as the "Hammer of the Gods." The phrase was used as the title of Stephen Davis' biography of the band, Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. The lyrics also did much to inspire the classic heavy metal myth, of mighty Viking-esque figures on an adventure, themes which have been adopted in the look and music of bands from Iron Maiden to Manowar.

"Immigrant Song" was used to open Led Zeppelin concerts from 1970 to 1972. On the second half of their 1972 concert tour of the United States, it was introduced by a short piece of music known as "LA Drone", designed to heighten the sense of anticipation and expectation amongst the concert audience. By 1973, "Immigrant Song" was occasionally being used as an encore, but was then removed from their live set.[4] Live versions of the song can be heard on the Led Zeppelin albums How the West Was Won (featuring a performance at Long Beach Arena in 1972) and the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions (a version from the Paris Theatre in London in 1971). When played live, Page played a lengthy guitar solo, which was absent on the recorded Led Zeppelin III version.[4] "Immigrant Song" was played as part of the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Jeff Beck by both Page and Beck.

Personnel[edit]

In the song, Page probably played his Gibson Les Paul 1959 with a sunburst finish which he began to use in 1969 (prior to that he played his 1964 Fender Telecaster given as a present by Jeff Beck) with Marshall or Vox Amplification. John Paul Jones played his Fender Precision Bass.

Cultural influence[edit]

Vanilla Ice used "Immigrant Song" as the basis for "Power", a rap metal song performed in concerts in 1999.[8]

Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs collaborated with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and fellow musician Atticus Ross on a cover version for the soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.[9]

Chart positions[edit]

Single[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak position
Australian Go-Set Top 60 Singles Chart[10] 16
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 13
Canadian CHUM Chart[12] 2
Canadian RPM Top Singles[13] 4
Germany (Media Control AG)[14] 6
Italy (FIMI)[15] 59
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 11
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[17] 9
Japan (Oricon)[18] 13
New Zealand (RIANZ)[19] 4
South African Chart[20] 7
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[21] 11
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[22] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 16
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart[24] 8
US Record World 100 Top Pops[25] 10

Single (Digital download)[edit]

Chart (2007) Peak position
Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart[26] 54
UK (Official Charts Company)[27] 109
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs[28] 71

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Cover versions[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • 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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Immigrant Song: Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  2. ^ Reebee Garofalo (2008). Pearson Prentice Hall, ed. Rockin' out: popular music in the USA. p. 264. ISBN 978-0132343053.  "Led Zeppelin III (1970) balanced the hard rock riffing on cuts like "Immigrant Song" with a whole side of largely acoustic music."
  3. ^ "Immigrant Song: Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  5. ^ Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 55.
  6. ^ Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, pp. 50-51.
  7. ^ eeggs.com. "Led Zeppelin III (Led Zeppelin) Easter Egg - Alastair Crowley in the Dead Wax". Eeggs.com. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  8. ^ Musgrove, Mike (23 June 1999). "At the 9:30, Pain Vanilla". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  9. ^ Breihan, Tom (27 May 2011). "Trent Reznor and Karen O Cover Led Zeppelin". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Top 60 Singles - 6 March 1971". Go Set. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  11. ^ "Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  12. ^ "CHUM Singles Chart - 23 January 1971". 1050chum.com. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "RPM Singles Chart - 23 January 1971". RPM. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  14. ^ "Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song". Charts.de. Media Control.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 1970". hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Led Zeppelin search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  18. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 25 January 1971". Oricon. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  19. ^ Scapolo, Dean (2007). "Top 50 Singles - May 1971". The Complete New Zealand Music Charts (1st ed.). Wellington: Transpress. ISBN 978-1-877443-00-8. 
  20. ^ "Top 20 Singles - 26 February 1971". rock.co.za. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  21. ^ "Top 100 Singles - May 1971". PROMUSICAE. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  22. ^ "Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  23. ^ "Led Zeppelin awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 9 January 1971". Cash Box. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  25. ^ "Top 40 for 1971 - January 1971". Record World. Retrieved 19 January 2009. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Hot Digital Singles - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2009. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Top 75 Singles - 18 November 2007". musicvf.com. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  28. ^ "Hot Digital Songs - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2009. [dead link]

External links[edit]