Ramble On

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"Ramble On"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin II
Released 22 October 1969
Recorded 1969, Juggy Sound Studio, New York
Genre Folk rock, hard rock
Length 4:34
Label Atlantic
Writer Page/Plant
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin II track listing
"Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"
(6)
"Ramble On"
(7)
"Moby Dick"
(8)
Audio sample
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"Ramble On" is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. It was co-written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and was recorded in 1969 at Juggy Sound Studio, New York, during the band's second concert tour of the United States. In 2010, the song was ranked #440 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]

Influences[edit]

The song's lyrics were heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.[2] The opening line ("Leaves are falling all around") is apparently a paraphrase of the opening line of Tolkien's poem "Namárië". The poem may also be the inspiration for the entire first verse.

The Tolkien references later in the song refer to abstract themes — Mordor, "girl so fair", the ring — without invoking any of Tolkien's stories in detail:

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,
'Twas 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.

References to Tolkien's work also exist in other Led Zeppelin songs, such as "Misty Mountain Hop" and "The Battle of Evermore".

Composition[edit]

The guitar's jangly introduction employs a classic Jimmy Page technique: using regular open chords superimposed higher on the fretboard.

There has been much doubt around Bonham's percussions in the background throughout the song, having regard to the particular resonance that it captures. There are no versions consistent in this respect: often mistaken for bongos, some said of a small plastic bin for waste played with the hands from the side of the bottom, others about the sticks on his drum kit vinyl seat pad, or even the soles of the shoes he wore during the recording session and so rhythmically beaten with his drum sticks; the book John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums reports instead of a hard case for guitar on which Bonham improvised percussion background with bare hands.[3]

The song also serves as an illustration of the tight interplay between bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham.

Jones' light, melodic bass phrases give way to an ascending motif which follows Bonham's soft percussions.

Live performances[edit]

Until 2007 "Ramble On" was never performed live in its entirety at Led Zeppelin concerts.[2] However, part of the song was performed by the band in the middle of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" at a concert at Toronto on 2 November 1969, as can be heard on the Led Zeppelin bootleg Listen to my Bluebird. In addition, a couple of lines were sung by Robert Plant during Communication Breakdown at the show on March 21, 1970 Vancouver, BC CA Pacific Coliseum. The full version of the song was played at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert on 10 December 2007, at the O2 Arena in London.

In June 2008 Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones joined the Foo Fighters on stage at Wembley Stadium and performed "Ramble On" with vocals performed by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins on drums. Interestingly, the two Foo Fighters reversed performing roles for "Rock and Roll" the other song performed with the Led Zeppelin pair.

Chart positions[edit]

Single (digital download)[edit]

Chart (2007) Peak position
Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart[4] 66

Personnel[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

"Ramble On"
Single by Train
Released January 2001
Format CD Single
Genre Roots rock
Length 4:41
Label Columbia Records
Train singles chronology
"I Am"
(2000)
"Ramble On"
(2001)
"Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)"
(2001)

Train version[edit]

Train did a cover of the song in early 2001 and released it as a single. Producer Brendan O'Brien heard Train's version and agreed to produce their second album, Drops of Jupiter. He later produced two more Train albums, My Private Nation and For Me, It's You.

Uses in popular culture[edit]

The song was heard at the start of the second half of Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, 2014.

"Ramble On" can be heard as a motif in the 2013 sci-fi movie Oblivion as listened to by Tom Cruise's character.

In the Supernatural episode 4.18 "The Monster at the End of This Book" Dean Winchester says that his favorite songs are a tie between "Ramble On" and "Traveling Riverside Blues" by Led Zeppelin [5]

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]