That's the Way (Led Zeppelin song)

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"That's the Way"
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin III
Released 5 October 1970 (1970-10-05)
Recorded Island Studios, London, 1970
Genre Folk rock
Length 5:37
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
ISWC T-070.183.409-4

"That's the Way" is a ballad by English rock band Led Zeppelin from their third album, Led Zeppelin III, released in 1970. Like several of the tracks on the album, it is an acoustic song and is particularly noted as being one of the most gentle and mellow compositions in the Led Zeppelin catalogue.

Musical composition[edit]

The studio version features Jimmy Page playing acoustic guitar in open G♭ tuning, pedal steel, dulcimer, and bass guitar while John Paul Jones plays mandolin. There is no presence of John Bonham's drums on the track, and light tambourine and bass guitar is added towards the end of the song.


Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote this piece in 1970 on a retreat at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage, Wales.[1][2] Page explained:

"That's the Way" was written in Wales. It was one of those days after a long walk and we were setting back to the cottage. We had a guitar with us. It was a tiring walk coming down a ravine and we stopped and sat down. I played the tune and Robert sang the first verse straight off. We had a tape recorder with us and we got the tune down".[3]

In an interview he gave to Mojo magazine in 2010, he elaborated:

I can still remember exactly where we were when we wrote That's the Way. Robert was seriously affected by the situation and being able to write it down and make a statement was great. That wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been there.[4]

Original working title of the song was "The Boy Next Door".[2] According to Stephen Davis's biography of Led Zeppelin, Hammer of the Gods, the song's lyrics reflected Plant's views on the ecology and environment. There are also several lines in the song which reflected on the way Led Zeppelin was sometimes treated in America during their early concert tours, when they were sometimes spat on, had guns drawn on them and were heckled at airports and on planes.[2] They were also troubled about the violence that they had seen policemen visit upon youth who protested the war in Vietnam, as well as upon the fans at their shows, particularly during their spring 1970 tour of the United States:[5]

I can't believe what people saying,
you're gonna let your hair hang down,
I'm satisfied to sit here working all day long,
you're in the darker side of town.

Live performances[edit]

When onstage for Page and Plant's Unledded reunion in 1994, Plant announced to the audience that Page's daughter, Scarlet Page, was conceived "about half an hour" after "That's the Way" was written.[6] Page's partner, Charlotte Martin, was staying at Bron-Yr-Aur at the time with Page, along with Plant's wife Maureen and their own child Carmen.

"That's the Way" was played live at Led Zeppelin concerts from 1970 through 1972, and was recalled for their series of concerts at Earls Court in 1975. Live versions of the song can also be found on How the West Was Won, the BBC Sessions and the Led Zeppelin DVD. The song was always performed half a step higher than the studio version, and the bass part at the end was always played by John Paul Jones on bass pedals. In 1994, Page and Plant also released a version on the No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded CD and DVD.

Uses in other media[edit]

This was one of the few songs in their catalogue that Led Zeppelin authorized for use on a film soundtrack. After seeing a rough cut of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous in 2000, Page and Plant agreed to let him use some Led Zeppelin songs on it, but this is the only one which made it onto the soundtrack album. Other Led Zeppelin songs which can be heard in the film are "Tangerine", "The Rain Song", "Bron-Yr-Aur", "Immigrant Song" and "Misty Mountain Hop".

Formats and track listings[edit]

1971 7" EP (Australia: Atlantic EPA 228)

  • A1. "That's the Way" (Page, Plant) 5:37
  • A2. "Going to California" (Page, Plant) 3:31
  • B. "Stairway to Heaven" (Page, Plant) 8:02


Cover versions[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


  1. ^ Phil Sutcliffe, "Back to Nature", Q Magazine Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003, p. 34.
  2. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  3. ^ Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 53.
  4. ^ Phil Alexander, “Up Close & Personal”, Mojo magazine, February 2010, pp. 72-79.
  5. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (August 10, 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  6. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil, "Back to Nature", Q Magazine Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003, p. 32.

External links[edit]