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ThreeSticks

What were the hardest Led Zeppelin songs to compose

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On 2/7/2017 at 0:26 PM, IpMan said:

Black Dog was another tough track to nail. It sounds pretty simple, however the problem is in the off-timing and is a real bear for the three players to stay in sync.

Indeed. All you need to do is listen to the rehearsals for the fourth album to hear how hard they worked on it. It's a fascinating listen !

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20 minutes ago, TheStairwayRemainsTheSame said:

How so?

Sort of like, takes one to know one...

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If you want to split hairs on this, many groups including the Beatles in the mid to late 60's used mid eastern influences.

Zep did it like noone else before or since, that's why many groups swinging for the fences in that "style"( yes, beyond any

actual style) fail miserably.

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I don't know about a particular song, though I think as an album Houses of the Holy might be their most intricate and complex album from start to finish.

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I think a lot of "In Through the Out Door" was hard to compose. 

Page and Bonham were really messed up at the time, so Jones and Plant were in the drivers seats.

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Presence as a whole would represent their most complex album but every album has their complex tunes. However, just because a song SOUNDS easy, does not mean it is. Black Dog is an excellent example of this as is Hot Dog. In fact many of Zep songs are like this. Zep for me is akin to Chopin, much of their material, just like Chopin's sound easy but the fact is much of their catalogue is very difficult to play correctly.

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On 3/24/2017 at 3:24 AM, Mook said:

Listen to Fly on a Windshield by Genesis, which was recorded before Kashmir, Led Zeppelin didn't invent this kind of rock.

Fly was written and recorded in either June or July 1974. Kashmir was written and recorded in February 1974. Both bands interacted with each other and were both  at Hedley Grange separated by three months. However, Genesis did not record any tracks at Hedley Grange in May when they were there, they wrote some of the tracks there but Fly was not written until the actual recording sessions a month or two later. PG should have come out no later than June 74' but Jimmy and his album art once again delayed release as it had to HOTH. 

So, in closing it is very likely Kashmir influenced Genesis to write Fly as they likely heard the song before release. Whereas there is no way Fly influenced Kashmir unless Jimmy transcended time/space itself.

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23 minutes ago, IpMan said:

Fly was written and recorded in either June or July 1974. Kashmir was written and recorded in February 1974. Both bands interacted with each other and were both  at Hedley Grange separated by three months. However, Genesis did not record any tracks at Hedley Grange in May when they were there, they wrote some of the tracks there but Fly was not written until the actual recording sessions a month or two later. PG should have come out no later than June 74' but Jimmy and his album art once again delayed release as it had to HOTH. 

So, in closing it is very likely Kashmir influenced Genesis to write Fly as they likely heard the song before release. Whereas there is no way Fly influenced Kashmir unless Jimmy transcended time/space itself.

Thanks for the info, I've always wondered which one was recorded & written first.

I read a quote from Steve Hackett (I think) & he'd said that Fly on a Windshield was intended to sound like pharaohs coming down the Nile on a giant boat or something to that effect, what he perhaps should've said was that it was meant to sound like Kashmir. Would've been more succinct.

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Swan Song/Midnight Moonlight took the longest so I don't know if that equates to difficulty

I'm Gonna Crawl was a try, try, try again track that started as a mandolin/hurdy gurdy/acoustic in Feb '70.

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Some of y’all sound like you’re musicians in your own right. 

I was just 12 years old when I fell in love with the Mighty Zep. I bought their vinyl & recorded the 2nd play of new vinyl on cassette, (Playing records while zooming along in a sports car very problematic even today.) Maxell   did me right, I never needed a replacement tape, Also, thanks to Pioneer, JVC, & Yamaha for awesome recording equipment! I’ve got a couple hundred cassettes still in fine shape in 2020.

Composition never comes easy unless you’re a certain 18th century guy name of Mozart. I’ve not tired of Led Zeppelin in 50 years because every time I’ve played them (cd’s since the 80’s, 90’s for cars) A Lot & every listen, be it a song or the whole album, brings differences to my ears. I’m a trained classical musician. So you tend to listen for differences among 4-10 melodic lines being played all at once. Led Zeppelin does the same thing as a roomful of musicians! Always different every time, even after 50 (!) years. 

I don’t go looking for collectibles or anything like that, I’ve just loved this group since being turned on to them. Well, I read books on them,  I’ve kept a few. In the 90’s during music retail’s heyday, I worked for a good company as 1 of their top classical music sellers and also held the title of the resident Led Zeppelin guru. We were in the middle of the desert between San Diego & Austin. Not an easy job! With killer sales of all of Led Zeppelin’s catalog and lots of very different classical composers, we made a name for our shop. Only other rock bands I ever really noticed other than Led Zeppelin were Pink Floyd & ZZTop. Three of Rock’s best ever guitarists. Great for different types of playing. Page, Gilmour, & Gibbons bring their own unique flavors but all 3 have 1 thing in common, they “stay inside the song.”  I have no idea how many times they rewrote the music or how many takes it took for them to record/mix a tune “Right!”, they did it. And I’m grateful to them! 

I think trained musicians bring different ideas about others’ work to the table over listeners. Training people how to listen to music is another factor in this equation. I was a premier competitor in car audio competitions in their heyday, also the 90’s. The best judges were like me, trained musicians, I guess you learn to listen when you’re part of a group of 3-50 people “making music.” 

Y’all’s takes on the Mighty Zep’s musical skills was interesting. But a little unexpected because it didn’t focus so much on the mechanical difficulties involved in songwriting before settling in to record them  as it did focus on the inherent beliefs that these guys went into the studio with notes set in stone on a piece of paper! Different strokes for different folks . . . 

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Alluded to earlier in the thread, the outtakes reveal they had some difficulty working out IMTOD. Bonzo was suggesting count-ins to get in and out of some of the transitions, recalling back to Black Dog, which he and Robert discussed during the session fragment we've heard.

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Posted (edited)

As a guitarist (tho not a real good one), IMTOD doesn't represent a really difficult composition.  LOTS of breaks which can be difficult, but the riffs themselves are of the most basic pentatonic variety.  Now, The Rain Song???  THERE'S a toughie.  Easier to play in open tuning, but in standard tuning it's a challenge.  

But there's one thing I know for sure;  They've ruined me for trying to write original songs.  Every thing that I try to compose, I immediately compare to what they would have done and simply toss it.  It's just too daunting to try to make something that will satisfy me like they do.  And anything less is pointless.  Like Page, Plant and Jones have said, "light and shade."  A boring boogie woogie just won't do.  I start everything that I try to write, thinking, "got to be a mellow part and got to be a heavy part."  

Edited by rose62

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1 hour ago, rose62 said:

As a guitarist (tho not a real good one), IMTOD doesn't represent a really difficult composition.  LOTS of breaks which can be difficult, but the riffs themselves are of the most basic pentatonic variety.  Now, The Rain Song???  THERE'S a toughie.  Easier to play in open tuning, but in standard tuning it's a challenge.  

But there's one thing I know for sure;  They've ruined me for trying to write original songs.  Every thing that I try to compose, I immediately compare to what they would have done and simply toss it.  It's just too daunting to try to make something that will satisfy me like they do.  And anything less is pointless.  Like Page, Plant and Jones have said, "light and shade."  A boring boogie woogie just won't do.  I start everything that I try to write, thinking, "got to be a mellow part and got to be a heavy part."  

You are right on all counts Rose, the difficult parts of IMTOD are the count-in, breaks, various drum fills and Jimmy's solos, especially live but the composition itself is not particularly complicated. AS a guitar player myself for 37+ years, IMTOD is not difficult to play...until you get to the solos. Those are hard solos as they are rather fast for slide work and its very easy to be either flat or sharp with a slide.

Rain Song is a pain to pull off correctly, a real challenge.

Keep up the writing, what you think is sub-par maybe the next hit. I am sure when Page & Co. were writing their stuff, especially in the earlier days they thought the same thing...not good enough, The Beatles, Cream, & Stones songs are better blah, blah, blah. Yet here we are, Zep is iconic and wrote great songs. Ya know, I think we are our own worse critics, always striving for the One.

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Agree about IMTOD, once you are in the right open tunning, it's pretty easy. 

One song that seems hard to compose is TSRTS, The hybrid picking is pretty hard, even more on a 12 strings, and the whole chord/triads progression is beautiful. 

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16 minutes ago, Klape said:

Agree about IMTOD, once you are in the right open tunning, it's pretty easy. 

One song that seems hard to compose is TSRTS, The hybrid picking is pretty hard, even more on a 12 strings, and the whole chord/triads progression is beautiful. 

Jimmy does all kinds of crazy hybrid picking on several songs but TSRTS is one I could never get to work on the 12 string. I can do a passible version on the 6 but you really need to have the hybrid picking down for the song to sound right. Some of Jimmy's performances on this song which were sub-standard live were due to bad hybrid picking which is super obvious.

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TSRTS / The Rain Song (chord changes / orchestration) / No Quarter / Achilles  

R😎

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