The Battle of Evermore

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"The Battle of Evermore"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin IV
Released 8 November 1971
Recorded December 1970 – March 1971
Genre Folk[1]
Length 5:52
Label Atlantic
Writer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin IV track listing
  1. "Black Dog"
  2. "Rock and Roll"
  3. "The Battle of Evermore"
  4. "Stairway to Heaven"
  5. "Misty Mountain Hop"
  6. "Four Sticks"
  7. "Going to California"
  8. "When the Levee Breaks"

"The Battle of Evermore" is a folk duet sung by Robert Plant and Sandy Denny, featured on Led Zeppelin's untitled 1971 album. The song's instrumentation features acoustic guitar and mandolin playing.

Writing and production[edit]

The song was written by Jimmy Page at Headley Grange while he was experimenting on the mandolin owned by John Paul Jones.[2][3] As Page explained in 1977:

"Battle of Evermore" was made up on the spot by Robert [Plant] and myself. I just picked up John Paul Jones's mandolin, never having played a mandolin before, and just wrote up the chords and the whole thing in one sitting.[4]

Musical references[edit]

The song, like some others by the group, makes references to The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Plant felt he needed another voice to tell the story, and for the recording of the song, folk singer Sandy Denny was invited to duet with Plant. Denny was a former member of British folk group Fairport Convention, with whom Led Zeppelin had shared a bill in 1970 at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Plant played the role of the narrator and Denny represented the town crier. Page elaborated:

[The song] sounded like an old English instrumental first off. Then it became a vocal and Robert did his bit. Finally we figured we'd bring Sandy by and do a question-and-answer-type thing.[4]

To thank her for her involvement, Denny was given the symbol on the album sleeve of three pyramids (the four members of Led Zeppelin each chose their own symbols for the album). This is the only song Led Zeppelin ever recorded with a guest vocalist. In an interview he gave in 1995 to Uncut magazine, Plant stated:

[F]or me to sing with Sandy Denny was great. We were always good friends with that period of Fairport Convention. Richard Thompson is a superlative guitarist. Sandy and I were friends, and it was the most obvious thing to ask her to sing on "The Battle of Evermore". If it suffered from naivete and tweeness—I was only 23—it makes up for it in the cohesion of the voices and the playing.[5]

Live performances[edit]

"The Battle of Evermore" was played live at Led Zeppelin concerts during the band's 1977 North American Tour. For these live performances, Jones sang Denny's vocals and played acoustic guitar whilst Page played mandolin. Sometimes John Bonham sang Denny's vocals along with Jones.

Page and Plant also recorded a version of the song in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. Singer Najma Akhtar sang Denny's vocal part.

Fairport Convention performed "The Battle of Evermore" with guest vocalists Plant and Kristina Donahue at Fairport's Cropredy Convention on 9 August 2008. Plant and Alison Krauss regularly performed "The Battle of Evermore" on their tour of US and Europe in spring and summer 2008.[6]

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant perform "The Battle of Evermore" at Denver's Red Rocks, 21 June 2008

Accolades[edit]

Year Publication Country Accolade Rank
2003 Blender United States "The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now!"[7] *
2004 Q United Kingdom "150 Greatest Rock Lists Ever" (10 Songs Based On Novels)[8] 4
"1010 Songs You Must Own!"[9] *

(*) designates unordered lists.

Personnel[edit]

Studio version[edit]

with:

Live performances[edit]

  • Robert Plant – lead vocals
  • Jimmy Page – mandolin, backing vocals
  • John Paul Jones – acoustic guitar, co-lead vocals
  • John Bonham – tambourine with a mallet, co-lead vocals, backing vocals

Page and Plant version[edit]

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. ^
  2. ^ Lewis, Dave (1994). The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-3528-9. 
  3. ^ Rosen, Steven (July 1977). 1977 Jimmy Page Interview (Audio/Text) at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 May 2007). Guitar Player. Modern Guitars. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Interview with Jimmy Page". Trouser Press. Iem.ac.ru. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Good Times...Bad Times". Uncut: 57. May 2005. ISSN 1368-0722. 
  6. ^ "Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at the Birmingham NIA". Birmingham Post. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own - 2003". Blender. Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "150 Greatest Rock Lists Ever – Book of Rock – July 2004". Q. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "1010 Songs You Must Own! – Q50 – #3: Duets – September 2004". Q. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 10 February 2009.