Kashmir (song)

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Kashmir
Appears on Physical Graffiti
Published by Flames of Albion Music
Registration ASCAP 410036929
Release date 24 February 1975
Recorded 1974
Genre Hard rock, symphonic rock
Language English
Length 8 minutes 28 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Bonham
Label Swan Song Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Ron Nevison and Keith Harwood

'Kashmir' is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their sixth album Physical Graffiti, released in 1975. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) over a period of three years, with the lyrics dating back to 1973.

Overview

'Kashmir' is widely considered to be one of Led Zeppelin's most successful songs; all four band members have agreed that it is to date one of their best musical achievements.[1] John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound.[2] Plant has stated that the song 'was one of my favourite [Led] Zeppelin tracks because it possessed all the latent energy and power that wasn't heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin.'[3] During a television interview in January 2008, he also named 'Kashmir' as his first choice of all Led Zeppelin songs that he would perform, commenting 'I'm most proud of that one'.[4] Page has indicated he thinks that the song is one of the band's best compositions.[5]

The song centres around a signature chord progression guitar riff, which first appeared on Page's home-studio work tapes.[6] It was initially a tuning, an extension of a guitar-cycle that Page had been working on for years. This was the same cycle that produced 'Black Mountain Side,' 'White Summer' and the unreleased track, 'Swan Song.'[7] As bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones had been late for the recording sessions, Page used the time to work on the riff with drummer John Bonham. The two demoed it late in 1973.[8] Plant later added the middle section and in early 1974 Jones added all the string parts.[9]

The guitar was played in an alternative guitar tuning: the strings are tuned to 'Open Dsus4' or DADGAD. Bonham's drums feature a phasing effect courtesy of an early Eventide phaser supplied by engineer Ron Nevison.[10] Plant has stated that Bonham's drumming is the key to the song: 'It was what he didn't do that made it work'.[11]

The song also includes many distinctive musical patterns of classical Moroccan, Indian and Middle Eastern music. Page explained that 'I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and Arabic stuff. It started off with a riff and then employed Eastern lines underneath.'[12]

Orchestral brass and strings with electric guitar and Mellotron Mk.II. strings are also used in the song. This is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs to use outside musicians. Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections.[13] It is difficult for many to hear the difference between the 'real' and simulated strings, which is a tribute to Jones' clever performance and arrangement. The Mellotron strings are most easily heard on the bridge, during the Gm and A chords.

Originally called 'Driving to Kashmir', the lyrics to the song were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin's 1973 US Tour, in an area he called 'the waste lands'[14] of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert.[15] This was despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region in the northernmost part of the Indian subcontinent.[16] As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:

The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. 'Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams...' It's one of my favourites...that, 'All My Love' and 'In the Light' and two or three others really were the finest moments. But 'Kashmir' in particular. It was so positive, lyrically.[17]

In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, Page mentioned that at the time the song was composed, none of the band members had even been to Kashmir.[18]

The song runs for 8 minutes 28 seconds, a length that radio stations usually consider too long to play. However, upon its release radio stations had no problem playing 'Kashmir,' especially after seeing 'Stairway to Heaven', which was almost as long, do so well (Original LP releases of Physical Graffiti incorrectly list the song's length as 9 minutes 41 seconds.).

Live versions

'Kashmir' was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its debut in 1975. Jones used a Mellotron Mk400 until 1977, when replaced by the Mellotron Mk.V., and a synthesizer for 1979 onwards. One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc two of the Led Zeppelin DVD. This performance came from the band's first show at the venue, on 4 August. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin also performed 'Kashmir' at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988. It was again performed at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the The O2, London on 10 December 2007.

When the band performed the song live, Robert Plant would switch the last verse with the second verse after singing the first verse normally. The third verse would also be sung normally in its original spot. When Led Zeppelin came together for Atlantic records' 40th Anniversary in 1988, Robert accidentally sang the second verse twice. He admitted to doing this by singing 'Oh father of the four winds fill my sails (again) across the sea of years' during the fourth verse. He never ended up singing the third verse ('Oh pilot of the storm...') before the mistake. However, he did sing 'With talk and song from tongues...' during the third verse while trying to correct it by singing 'I will return again...' halfway through. Also Plant, known for his improvisation while performing, would ad lib a lot during 'Kashmir'. He would add in 'sweet mama', 'slowly dyin, 'now just a minute', 'sweet darlin, and he would stutter the words 'baby' and 'mama'. He would also end that section with 'there's no denyin' while I'm talkin' to ya.'

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant recorded another version in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. For this arrangement, they added an orchestra and Moroccan musicians.

Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis describes 'Kashmir' as:

Unquestionably the most startling and impressive track on Physical Graffiti, and arguably the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded. 'Kashmir' went a long way towards establishing their credibility with otherwise sceptical rock critics. Many would regard this track as the finest example of the sheer majesty of Zeppelin's special chemistry.[19]

Influence

The tune was sampled by Sean 'Puffy' Combs (now known as Diddy) in his song 'Come with Me' from the soundtrack to the movie Godzilla (1998), which featured Jimmy Page, who endorsed Combs' adaptation, appears in the video and also played it with him on Saturday Night Live. Snippets of the song were used in The X Factor series 3 and in the German TV show TV Total. Since mid-2006, the wrestling company Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has used an instrumental remix of 'Kashmir' for one of the top superstars of that company, Kevin Nash. The song was employed on the soundtrack to the French 1977 action-adventure film Le Crabe-Tambour (The Drummer Crab).[20]

In the motion picture Ocean's 12, Linus (Matt Damon) requests to play a more central role in the heist and convinces Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt) to let him join them in the meeting with a contact named Matsui. In the meeting, Matsui, Danny and Rusty speak in a strange, metaphorical code-language. When it comes to Linus's turn to say something, who is already baffled as he cannot understand what the other are saying, he can't think of anything so he recites the first two lines of the song. However, Matsui takes this as an insult and Linus is forced to wait outside for the remainder of the interview. When Danny and Rusty come outside afterwards, Rusty asks him 'Kashmir?'[21] In the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 'Kashmir' can be heard playing in the car of Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) while he is on a date.[22] In the documentary Religulous, when Bill Maher was interviewing Mohammed Junas Gaffar (from the Te Ban Mosque in Amsterdam), Gaffar's cell phone went off, and it played 'Kashmir', to which Bill Maher sang along to make fun of that moment.

The song was ranked 140th in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.[23] French Charly 1300 TMP chart rated it as number 1[24] In 2009 it was named the 21st greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[25]

Accolades

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Classic Rock United States 'The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time'[26] 1995 20
Classic Rock United Kingdom 'Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under)'[27] 1999 23
VH1 United States 'The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time'[28] 2000 62
Rolling Stone United States 'The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time'[29] 2003 140
Blender United States 'Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own'[30] 2003 *
Q United Kingdom '1010 Songs You Must Own!'[31] 2004 *
Q United Kingdom 'Ultimate Music Collection - Rock'[32] 2005 *
Q United Kingdom '100 Greatest Songs of All Time'[33] 2006 74
VH1 United States 'VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs'[34] 2009 21

(*) designates unordered lists.

Chart positions

Single (Airplay)

Chart (1975) Peak position
French Infodisc Chart[35] 39

Single (Digital download)

Chart (2007) Peak position
UK Singles Chart[36] 80
Swiss Singles Chart[37] 64
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart[38] 42
US Billboard Hot Digital Tracks Chart[39] 49
Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart[40] 33

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – Mellotron Mk.II, bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Keith Harwood - engineer, mixing
    • Ron Nevison - engineer
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Yorke, Ritchie (2002). “On the Wings of a Swan Song”, Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography; From Early Days to Page and Plant. London: Virgin Books, 195. ISBN 978-0-86369-744-9. 
  2. Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings.
  3. Welch, Chris (1996). “Into the Shadows”, Led Zeppelin. London: Carlton Books, 76. ISBN 978-1-85868-271-6. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (4 February 2008). Robert Plant at Madison Square Garden. TBL News. Tight But Loose. Retrieved on 5 May 2014.
  5. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  6. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  7. Welch, Chris (2009). Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song, Revised. London: Carlton Books, 106. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9. 
  8. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  9. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  10. Tolinski, Brad (May 2005). "Jimmy Page on Physical Graffiti". Guitar World 26 (5): 26. ISSN 1045-6295.
  11. Welch, Chris (2009). Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song, Revised. London: Carlton Books, 106. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9. 
  12. Welch, Chris (1996). “Into the Shadows”, Led Zeppelin. London: Carlton Books, 76. ISBN 978-1-85868-271-6. 
  13. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  14. Welch, Chris (1996). “Into the Shadows”, Led Zeppelin. London: Carlton Books, 76. ISBN 978-1-85868-271-6. 
  15. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  16. Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved on 5 May 2014.
  17. Welch, Chris (2009). Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song, Revised. London: Carlton Books, 106. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9. 
  18. Burroughs, William S. (June 1975). "Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, and a Search for the Elusive Stairway to Heaven". Crawdaddy!. ISSN 0011-0833. Retrieved on 5 May 2014.
  19. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 70. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  20. Le Crabe-Tambour (1977). Turner Classic Movies. Turner Entertainment. Retrieved on 18 October 2013.
  21. Ocean's Twelve (2004). Turner Classic Movies. Turner Entertainment. Retrieved on 18 October 2013.
  22. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Turner Classic Movies. Turner Entertainment. Retrieved on 18 October 2013.
  23. 'Kashmir', Rolling Stone, 9 December, 2004.
  24. Charly 1300 Top 10 Songs: 11 May 1975. Charly 1300. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  25. spreadit.org music. Retrieved on 7 February 2009.
  26. ROCK SONGS The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time - 1995. Jacobs Media. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  27. Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under) - September 1999. Classic Rock. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  28. The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time - July 2000. VH1. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  29. The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - November 2003. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  30. Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own - 2003. Blender. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  31. 1010 Songs You Must Own! Q50 – #2: Air Guitar - September 2004. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  32. Ultimate Music Collection: Rock - April 2005. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  33. greatest songs 100 Greatest Songs of All Time - October 2006. Q. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  34. VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs - January 2009. VH1. Retrieved on 2009-02-10.
  35. The Top 100: 15 February 1975. infodisc.fr. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  36. UK Top Singles - 24 November 2007. chartstats.com. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  37. Top 100 Singles - 25 November 2007. hitparade.ch. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  38. Hot 100 Digital Songs - 1 December 2007. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  39. Hot 100 Digital Tracks - 1 December 2007. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  40. Hot Digital Singles - 1 December 2007. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.