Carouselambra

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"Carouselambra"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album In Through the Out Door
Released 15 August 1979 (1979-08-15)
Recorded Polar Studios, Stockholm,Sweden, November–December 1978
Genre Hard rock,[1] synthrock, progressive rock
Length 10:34
Label Swan Song
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Audio sample
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"Carouselambra" is the fifth track on Led Zeppelin's 1979 album In Through the Out Door. The name Carouselambra is a reference to the first section of the song sounding similar to carousel music. It is the second-longest song the band recorded in the studio (after "In My Time of Dying"), at more than 10 minutes in length.

It is also a very unusual song for the band, as Jimmy Page's guitar work is pushed almost to the background, while John Paul Jones dominates with heavy use of synthesizers.

Overview[edit]

With its early working title of "The Epic", what would eventually be called "Carouselambra" was conceived during the band's rehearsals at Clearwell Castle in May 1978.[2] The song itself is split in three sections. The first section is a fast-paced showcase of Jones on synthesizer (he overdubbed bass guitar or already recorded it as part of the backing track), with Robert Plant's vocals mixed down slightly underneath Jones, the drums of John Bonham and Page's guitar chord progression. The second section is much slower in pace, highlighting Page's use of the Gibson EDS-1275 double-necked guitar, the only time he used that instrument on a Led Zeppelin studio song,[2] while Plant sings some reflective lyrics. The final section returns to an up-tempo beat, with all four band members performing in unison. Page's deep, droning guitar sound was produced with a Gizmotron, a device that creates infinite sustain, unusual harmonics, and allows the guitar to sound like a string section.[2]

Jones, in an interview, stated he had obtained the Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer from Keith Emerson. He later sold this GX-1 back to Emerson after Led Zeppelin's last tour in 1980.[3]

The song is in standard 4/4 timing in the key of A major, although there are various instances of modulation to C, D, F, and G major. The lyrics to the first section of the song follow a rough "ABAB" rhythmical format. In the second and third sections of the song the format changes along with the instruments.

Plant's vocals, particularly in the first section of the song, are somewhat buried in the mix and the words are difficult to discern. According to an interview Plant gave in 1979, the song was about someone who, when one day realising the song was written about them, would say, "My God! Was it really like that?"[2] Later comments suggest that the singer meant his bandmates; the lyrics allegedly were a veiled description of their troubled creative chemistry.[4]

Live renditions[edit]

"Carouselambra" was never played live by the band at Led Zeppelin concerts. John Paul Jones once stated that his original idea for the song was for it to be used as a "centrepiece" of their live shows, using it as a medium between songs as they moved from one to the other. The band planned to perform the song on their 1980 North American tour, but because of the death of John Bonham, this never came to fruition.

During the 1995–96 Page and Plant tour, Plant would often sing the middle verse of the song when he and Page performed "In the Evening".[5]

Personnel[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, Stephen (1985). Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 291. ISBN 0-345-33516-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  3. ^ John Paul Jones' Yamaha GX-1 http://www.reocities.com/jpjkeys/yamahagx1.html
  4. ^ Jeff Giles, "Jimmy Page Says Led Zeppelin's Ninth Album Would Have Been 'Hypnotic," http://ultimateclassicrock.com/led-zeppelin-ninth-album/
  5. ^ Los Angeles 6/26/77 - It'll Be Me; Official website