The bitter Led Zeppelin song Robert Plant wrote about Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

As The Yardbirds retired in 1968, Led Zeppelin rose from the ashes to challenge The Rolling Stones and The Who in the immediate post-Beatles era. The band’s heavier blues style, powered by John Bonham’s thunderous percussion and Jimmy Page’s rapturous guitar command, was enhanced by powerful yet dynamic vocals of Robert Plant.

Page, a former session musician, was the only ex-Yardbird who was willing to continue. Finding himself isolated, he sought out top-tier musicians to form the ultimate heavy rock band. After hearing about a unique rock singer from Birmingham, Page followed the trail and ended up in front of Plant, the singer of the Band of Joy.

Robert Plant once recalled their first meeting. “I was performing at this college when [manager Peter Grant] and Jimmy showed up and asked if I wanted to join the Yardbirds.” I knew the Yardbirds had done a lot of work in America. Which meant audiences would be curious about what I had to offer. So, I was naturally interested.

During this meeting, the frontman performed Jefferson Airplane’s song ‘Somebody To Love’ for Page. “When I auditioned him and heard him sing, I immediately thought there must be something wrong with his personality or that he had to be impossible to work with because I just couldn’t understand why, after he told me he’d been singing for a few years already, he hadn’t become a big name yet,” Page recalled. “So I invited him over for a little while to check him out, and we got along great. “No problem.”

For the most part, Page’s dream team was flawless. They maintained a delicate balance both on and off stage, embodying the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of excess. However, near the end of the 1970s, Led Zeppelin began to show signs of disrepair, foreshadowing Bonham’s tragic death in 1980.

The four members’ animosity boiled over on the final two albums, Presence and In Through The Out Door. For the most part, a chasm divided the band in half; while Page and Bonham maintained a wild lifestyle, Plant and Jones appeared more committed to studio  turning up to sessions on time and in the right headspace. Page and Bonham frequently recorded their parts during inefficient late-night sessions.

Several songs from the period reflected this fractious state, including 1976’s ‘Hots On for Nowhere’ and 1979’s ‘Carouselambra’. Plant wrote the former while recovering from a 1975 car accident. The lyrics reflected his feelings about his inhibitory injuries and his ongoing disagreements with Page. “I’ve got friends who would give me fu*k all” was the most telling line.

By 1979, the bitterness had subsided into a more general sense of hopelessness. “Where was your word?, Where have you gone? Where were you assisting?, Where was your bow?” Plant sings in ‘Carouselambra’.

“I thought parts of ‘Carouselambra’ were good, especially the darker dirges that Pagey developed”. Plant said during a 2003 interview with Mojo. “I regret it so much now because the lyrics to ‘Carouselambra’ were about that environment and situation. The song tells the complete story of Led Zeppelin’s later years. “And I can’t hear the words!”

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