|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Physical Graffiti|
|Released||24 February 1975|
|Genre||Hard rock, progressive rock|
|Physical Graffiti track listing|
"Kashmir" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their sixth album Physical Graffiti, released in 1975. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) over a period of three years with lyrics dating to 1973. The song became a concert staple, being performed by the band at almost every concert since its release. Page and Plant released a longer live version, recorded with an Egyptian/Moroccan orchestra, on No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded (1994) and continued to perform the song with an orchestra on their 1995 tour.
The song runs for 8:28, a length that radio stations usually consider too long to play. However, upon its release, radio stations aired "Kashmir", especially after seeing "Stairway to Heaven", which was almost as long, do so well.
The song's signature chord progression, which first appeared on Page's home-studio work tapes, was an extension of a guitar-cycle that Page had been working on for some time. This was the same cycle that produced "Black Mountain Side", "White Summer", and the unreleased track, "Swan-song". Because bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones had been late for the recording sessions, Page used the time to work on the riff with drummer John Bonham. The two demoed it late in 1973. Plant later added the middle section, and in early 1974, Jones added the string parts.
Page adopted an alternative guitar tuning: the strings are tuned to 'Open Dsus4' or DADGAD. Bonham's drums featured a phasing effect courtesy of an Eventide Instant Phaser PS-101 supplied by engineer Ron Nevison. Plant stated that Bonham's drumming is the key to the song: "It was what he didn't do that made it work". Sections of the song utilise a polymeter effect, with the drums and lyrics in quadruple meter while the melodic instruments play a triple meter rhythmic pattern.
The song includes many distinctive musical patterns of classical Moroccan, Indian and Middle Eastern music. Page explained, "I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and Arabic stuff. It started off with a riff and then employed Eastern lines underneath."
Orchestral brass and strings with electric guitar and mellotron strings appear in the song. This is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs to use outside musicians. Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections. According to Jones, "the secret of successful keyboard string parts is to play only the parts that a real string section would play. That is, one line for the First Violins, one line for Second Violins, one for Violas, one for Cellos, one for Basses. Some divided parts [two or more notes to a line] are allowed, but keep them to a minimum. Think melodically".
The lyrics were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin's 1973 US Tour, in an area he called "the waste lands" of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert. This was despite the fact that the song is named after Kashmir, a region in the northwestern part of the Himalayas. As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:
The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. 'Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams...' It's one of my favourites...that, 'All My Love' and 'In the Light' and two or three others really were the finest moments. But 'Kashmir' in particular. It was so positive, lyrically.
Plant also commented on the challenges he faced in writing lyrics for such a complex piece of music:
It was an amazing piece of music to write to, and an incredible challenge for me ... Because of the time signature, the whole deal of the song is… not grandiose, but powerful: it required some kind of epithet, or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments. But everything is not what you see. It was quite a task, ’cause I couldn’t sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me. It’s true: I was petrified, it’s true. It was painful; I was virtually in tears.
"Kashmir" was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its debut in 1975. One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD. This performance came from the band's first show at the venue on 4 August. The surviving members also performed the song at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988. It was again performed at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the The O2, London on 10 December 2007 and later released on Celebration Day. That concert's rendition of the song, due to its appearance in the film, has been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance at the 56th Grammys.
When the band performed the song live, Robert Plant would switch the last verse ("Oh father of the four winds, fill my sails..") with the original second verse ("With talk and song from tongues of lilting grace...") after singing the first verse normally. Plant, known generally for improvisation while performing live, would ad lib during live performances of "Kashmir". He would add in "sweet mama", "slowly dyin'", "now just a minute", "sweet darlin'", and he would stutter the words "baby" and "mama". He would also end that section with "there's no denyin'" and "Woman, talkin' to ya!"
Page and Plant recorded another live version of "Kashmir" in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. For this arrangement, they added an orchestra and Egyptian musicians.
All four members of Led Zeppelin have agreed that "Kashmir" is one of their best musical achievements. John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound. Plant has stated that "Kashmir" is the "definitive Led Zeppelin song", and that it "was one of my favourite [Led] Zeppelin tracks because it possessed all the latent energy and power that wasn't heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin." During a television interview in January 2008, he also named "Kashmir" as his first choice of all Led Zeppelin songs that he would perform, commenting "I'm most proud of that one". Page has indicated he thinks that the song is one of the band's best compositions.
Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis describes "Kashmir" as follows:
Unquestionably the most startling and impressive track on Physical Graffiti, and arguably the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded. 'Kashmir' went a long way towards establishing their credibility with otherwise skeptical rock critics. Many would regard this track as the finest example of the sheer majesty of Zeppelin's special chemistry.
The song is listed highly in a number of professional music rankings:
|Classic Rock||United States||"The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time"||1995||20|
|Classic Rock||United Kingdom||"Ten of the Best Songs Ever!!.. (Bubbling under)"||1999||23|
|VH1||United States||"The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time"||2000||62|
|Rolling Stone||United States||"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"||2003||141|
|Blender||United States||"Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own"||2003||*|
|Q||United Kingdom||"1010 Songs You Must Own!"||2004||*|
|Q||United Kingdom||"Ultimate Music Collection - Rock"||2005||*|
|Q||United Kingdom||"100 Greatest Songs of All Time"||2006||74|
|VH1||United States||"VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"||2009||21|
|JJJ||Australia||"Hottest 100 of All Time"||2009||98|
(*) designates unordered lists.
Single (digital download)
|Chart (2007)||Peak position|
|UK Singles Chart||80|
|Swiss Singles Chart||64|
|US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart||42|
|US Billboard Hot Digital Tracks Chart||49|
|Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart||33|
Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.
- Jimmy Page – lead guitar
- Robert Plant – lead vocals
- John Paul Jones – bass guitar, mellotron, strings and brass arrangements
- John Bonham – drums
- Uncredited musicians - strings and brass
Samples and copies
The 1988 Schoolly D song "Signifying Rapper", which samples "Kashmir", was the target of lawsuits following its use in the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant. In 1994, Page and Plant successfully sued Home Box Office to have the song removed from televised showings of the film and Live Home Video and distributor Aries Film Releasing were ordered to destroy any unsold copies of Bad Lieutenant as part of a copyright infringement ruling. Director Abel Ferrara was angered by the incident, which he felt "ruined the movie".
The tune was subsequently sampled with permission by Sean "Puffy" Combs (AKA Puff Daddy) in "Come With Me" from the soundtrack to the movie Godzilla (1998). Page, who endorsed Combs' adaptation, appears in the video and also played it with him on Saturday Night Live.
- 'Physical Graffiti' (Led Zeppelin 1975)
- Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings.
- Dave Lewis (1994),The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
- Guitar World, May 2005
- Robinson, Karl D. "Rock Hall STI Lesson 44".
- Courtright, Kevin (2009). Back to Schoolin'. Xulon Press. p. 97.
The basic melodic and chordal material in "Kashmir" is in 3/4 (or 6/8) time, yet Bonham's relentless drum beat is in straight 4/4...Additionally, the song has sections in full 4/4 which provide a stabilizing counterpoint.
- Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 76.
- John Paul Jones' Mellotron at the Wayback Machine (archived 27 October 2009)
- Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- "Hottest 100 of All Time", Triple J, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- William S. Burroughs, Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, and a Search for the Elusive Stairway to Heaven, Crawdaddy!, June 1975.
- Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography by Ritchie Yorke
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- Tight But Loose: News
- Dave Schulps, Interview with Jimmy Page, Trouser Press, October 1977.
- ROCK SONGS "The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time - 1995". Jacobs Media. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under) - September 1999". Classic Rock. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time - July 2000". VH1. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - November 2003". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own - 2003". Blender. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "1010 Songs You Must Own! Q50 – #2: Air Guitar - September 2004". Q. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "Ultimate Music Collection: Rock - April 2005". Q. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- greatest songs "100 Greatest Songs of All Time - October 2006". Q. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs - January 2009". VH1. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "Hottest 100 - Of All Time". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
- "UK Top Singles - 24 November 2007". chartstats.com. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
- "Top 100 Singles - 25 November 2007". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
- "Hot 100 Digital Songs - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.[dead link]
- "Hot 100 Digital Tracks - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.[dead link]
- "Hot Digital Singles - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 19 January 2009.[dead link]
- Tobias, Scott (27 November 2002). "Interview: Abel Ferrara". The A.V. Club. Onion.
- Jeffrey, Don. "Plant, Page Oust Song From Film" Billboard 5 March 1994: 12
- Sandler, Adam (14 December 1994). Live Must Destroy 'Bad' Vids Sez Judge. Variety