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Top 10 of John Paul Jones,Led Zeppelin songs


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Top 10 John Paul Jones Led Zeppelin Songs

by Matthew Wilkening


Bobby Bank, Getty Images

This list of the Top 10 John Paul Jones Led Zeppelin Songs serves as a quick reminder of how important the songwriting and performance skills of the foursome’s least assuming showman were to the group’s success. The fact that singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page were far more likely to strike rock star poses while working their share of the band’s magic earned them the lion’s share of the headlines and press photos. Lord knows it must have been impossible to compete with drummer and general madman John Bonham for whatever attention was left behind. So as you’ll see, Jones made himself heard and felt in a variety of other ways, becoming ever more important to the group’s sound as they expanded their horizons and range in later years.



‘Royal Orleans’

From: ‘Presence’ (1976)

This is the only song on Led Zeppelin’s stripped-down, backs-to-the-wall masterpiece on which Jones receives a songwriting credit, and as usual his bass playing is both nimble and muscular. But the real reason we’re including it on this list is that Jones also unwittingly provided the lyrical inspiration for the track. It’s based on a real life misadventure that reportedly wound up with him passed out in a burning room after partying with some drag queens. Whether or not our hero was fooled by (and kissed) some of his fellow revelers is apparently a source of continued debate between him and Robert Plant.

Listen to ‘Royal Orleans’



‘All My Love’

From: ‘In Through the Out Door’ (1979)

Since Jimmy Page and John Bonham were both struggling mightily with substance abuse problems, Jones and Plant were left to fend for themselves quite often during the making of Led Zeppelin’s last studio album. Accordingly, ‘All My Love,’ a touching tribute to the singer’s recently deceased son Karac, is dominated musically by keyboards instead of guitar. Jones’ lovely synthesizer solo at 2:33 — and the majestic instrumental sections that lead in and out of it — help make this song soar when it easily could have dissipated into thin air.

Listen to ‘All My Love’



‘How Many More Times’

From: ‘Led Zeppelin’ (1969)

The final song on Led Zeppelin’s jaw-dropping debut album is an eight-minute monster that finds Jimmy Page all but emptying his bag of guitar and studio tricks, Robert Plant wailing away as if it’s very his last chance to be heard in this world, and John Bonham deftly handling a dizzying variety of mood and tempo changes. So how come the first thing we always remember about ‘How Many More Times’ is the absolutely massive and undeniably swinging bass line that Jones unleashes during the track’s opening and concluding sections?

Listen to ‘How Many More Times’



‘Fool in the Rain’

From: ‘In Through the Out Door’ (1979)

This piano-heavy single from ‘In Through the Out Door’ finds Jones blending tricky Latin time signatures with a punchy reggae-inspired bass line while a heartbroken Plant mistakenly waits for his girl on the wrong street corner. According to the fantastic Led Zeppelin book ‘Get the Led Out,’ that’s Jones’ whistle at 2:26 announcing the song’s famous samba interlude.

Listen to ‘Fool in the Rain’



‘In the Light’

From: ‘Physical Graffiti’ (1975)

Only on an album as overstuffed as ‘Physical Graffiti’ could a treasure like ‘In the Light’ remain somewhat hidden. This slowly unfolding, nearly nine-minute track is a great showcase for Jones’ songwriting and instrumental skills, and though never played live by the band, is reportedly one of Plant’s favorite Zep songs. From the exotic opening solo section to its uplifting fadeout refrain, ‘In the Light’ is truly worthy of the company it keeps alongside fellow ‘Graffiti’ epics such as ‘Kashmir’ (see No. 2 on our list of the Top John Paul Jones Led Zeppelin Songs) and ‘In My Time of Dying.’

Listen to ‘In the Light’



‘Black Dog’

From: ‘(Untitled)’ (1971)

It’s easy to assume that guitarist Jimmy Page wrote the iconic riff for ‘Black Dog,’ the smoking call-and-response number that opens Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album. But the song’s tricky time signatures help reveal Jones as the main author. As he explains in ‘Get the Led Out,’ “I just liked the idea of riff that you think was going to go somewhere and didn’t. It came back round and went round again.” Well, that counts as going somewhere pretty good in our book.



‘Trampled Under Foot’

From: ‘Physical Graffiti’ (1975)

By our count, we’ve gone nearly two years on this site without uttering the criminally overused word “funky” to describe a rock song. But it’s nearly impossible to talk about late-era Zeppelin without discussing some of the R&B-referencing grooves Jones and his rhythm section partner Bonham conjured up for songs such as ‘Custard Pie’ and this clavinet-driven scorcher. So forgive us, but the only way things could have gotten nastier when Zep played this at their 2007 reunion show is if Stevie Wonder, George Clinton and Prince all joined in.

Listen to ‘Trampled Under Foot’



‘The Rain Song’

From ‘Houses of the Holy’ (1973)

As his beautifully textured piano and mellotron playing on this winding ballad displays quite clearly, John Paul Jones’ skills as a multi-instrumentalist, and his ability to orchestrate (synthesized) string sections were a big part of the reason Led Zeppelin were able to expand their sonic palette far beyond heavy guitar rock. Nearly twenty years later, Jones’ string arrangement skills helped R.E.M. create the album many consider their masterpiece, ‘Automatic for the People.’

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Pretty good list I know its just a fraction of John Pauls best work.He is the best at what he does.

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great description of How Many More Times.

...Robert Plant wailing away as if it’s very his last chance to be heard in this world, and John Bonham deftly handling a dizzying variety of mood and tempo changes. So how come the first thing we always remember about ‘How Many More Times’ is the absolutely massive and undeniably swinging bass line that Jones unleashes during the track’s opening and concluding sections?

I'm glad to see the song on the list!

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That list was good, even if it left off The Lemon Song and Carouselambra among others. Cool to see Royal Orleans get a mention.

Here's some other fave Jones performances of mine:

A hidden gem. Check out the bass lines he lays down in the chorus and instrumental parts:


One of the best Crunge/funky bits from the 75 tour:

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That list sucks some heavy shit. The Lemon Song is JPJ's best bass performance, followed by The Crunge, GTBT, Ramble On and WIAWSNB.

You're really going to bitch about The Crunge not being on the list? That's far from his most sophisticated work.

How about Going to California? Or Kashmir? He did the Arabian string arrangement which I would argue is one of Zeppelin's most impressive riffs ever. And yes, The Lemon Song has to be #1. Most of LZII actually.

Edit: The Crunge actually makes my list but only if we're talking the live version. The studio version is über simple.

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It's a cool line, no doubt (JPJ doesn't write lousy bass lines). But the whole song is comprised of like ten notes. Sounds cool and funky - but top ten? No way. He is far too much a virtuoso for this to be considered among his best.

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  • 9 months later...

I haven't seen Thank You mentioned, nothing like Jonsey's early showcase the organ solo! I would certainly put that on his top 10. No Quarter was also impressive, but as far as his bass work The Lemon Song, Ramble On, and Heartbreaker are his best IMO (Jonsey was killer on Zep II, even WLL and WIAWSNB have awesome bass work!). I liked seeing HMMT listed, though that's one very simple yet great bass line.

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John Paul Jones plays so much, we need different forums for bass, keys, and mandolin. JPJ shreds mandolin on Hey Hey What Can I Do. Has anyone else noticed the thunderous 8 string bass on Ozone Baby? Organ solo on You Shook Me? Don't forget about string arrangements. Zep brough session musicians in for string sections in Friends and Kashmir, both arranged by JPJ. He is a genius and a list of 10 songs can't do him justice.

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