The Led Zeppelin song that starts with a mistake

News The Led Zeppelin song that starts with a mistake

For many fans, Led Zeppelin represents the pinnacle of rock ‘n’ roll achievement. Fusing the preference for pulsating sonics from the genre pioneers that inspired them with the strides of the most influential bands of the 1960s, the group made good on the foundations of those who came before them and continued to push guitar music into a more refined space.

Originally called ‘The New Yardbirds’ when formed in 1968, then bursting onto the scene in 1969 with their deeply innovative first pair of albums, Led Zeppelin’s story is inextricable from leader Jimmy Page’s previous band. It was with his new outfit, featuring the stellar lineup of frontman Robert Plant, bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham, that he could finally explore his ultimate idea of truly augmenting rock music, with “a marriage of blues, hard rock and acoustic music topped with heavy choruses”.

He was now in control of his destiny, and his position as principal songwriter, lead guitarist and producer would indeed see him make good on his ultimate creative vision. In doing so, Led Zeppelin would eclipse The Beatles at the end of their career as the most exciting and commercially viable band around – an incredible triumph in itself – and precipitate the variety of palettes that rock would morph into, including prog, punk, metal and grunge.

Despite the raw nature of their early work, Led Zeppelin quickly established themselves as the new benchmark. This reality was confirmed by their efforts in the live setting, where the group’s dedication to really pushing themselves as artists was made resoundingly clear. Rarely did they play a song the same as on record, with them instead opting for improvisations that used the studio version of the composition as the blueprint from which to launch into scintillating jams. Famously, Jimmy Page never played his iconic guitar solos the same.

Focusing on the broader and more encouraging point, although Led Zeppelin symbolises musical mastery in all its forms, even they were prone to mistakes. While these occurred in the studio and live, one of the most famous, which also shows their profoundly dynamic outlook, happened at the start of recording ‘Black Country Woman’ from 1975’s Physical Graffiti. The song in question was recorded outside at Mick Jagger’s country estate Stargroves in 1972 for Houses of the Holy, as part of the band’s desire to work in “off the wall” locations that forewent the traditional studio setting.

As the group had opened itself up to the world by leaving the safety of the studio, a surprise aptly came along. As the recording reel started, a small plane flew overhead. This prompted the engineer Eddie Kramer to say, “Don’t want to get this airplane on,” to which Robert Plant, a key part of the band’s overall dedication to improvisation, replied unphased, “Nah, leave it, yeah.”

Listen to ‘Black Country Woman’ below.

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