That's the Way (Led Zeppelin song)
|"That's the Way"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin|
|from the album Led Zeppelin III|
|Released||5 October 1970|
|Songwriter(s)||Jimmy Page, Robert Plant|
"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 one of the most gentle and mellow compositions in the Led Zeppelin catalogue.
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.
"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".
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.
Original working title of the song was "The Boy Next Door". 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 spat on, had guns drawn on them and were heckled at airports and on planes. They were also troubled about the violence they had seen policemen use against young people who protested the war in Vietnam, as well as on the fans at their shows, particularly during their spring 1970 tour of the United States:
- 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.
In a contemporary review of Led Zeppelin III, Lester Bangs of Rolling Stone praised "That's the Way", writing that the track is the first Led Zeppelin song that has ever truly moved him. Bangs continues:
"Above a very simple and appropriately everyday acoustic riff, Plant sings a touching picture of two youngsters who can no longer be playmates because one's parents and peers disapprove of the other because of long hair and being generally from "the dark side of town." The vocal is restrained for once — in fact, Plant's intonations are as plaintively gentle as some of the Rascals' best ballad work — and a perfectly modulated electronic drone wails in the background like melancholy harbor scows as the words fall soft as sooty snow: "And yesterday I saw you standing by the river / I read those tears that filled your eyes / And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying / Had they got you hypnotized?" Beautiful, and strangely enough Zep. As sage Berry declared eons ago, it shore goes to show you never can tell."
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. 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
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
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
- Robert Plant – vocals
- Jimmy Page – guitars, bass guitar, dulcimer
- John Paul Jones – mandolin
- John Bonham – tambourine
- 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
- Phil Sutcliffe, "Back to Nature", Q Magazine Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003, p. 34.
- Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
- Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 53.
- Phil Alexander, “Up Close & Personal”, Mojo magazine, February 2010, pp. 72-79.
- Gilmore, Mikal (August 10, 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- Bangs, Lester (26 November 1970). "Led Zeppelin III". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
- Sutcliffe, Phil, "Back to Nature", Q Magazine Special Led Zeppelin edition, 2003, p. 32.