Over the Hills and Far Away

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Over the Hills and Far Away
Othafasingle1973.jpg
1973 Dutch single
Appears on Houses of the Holy
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 450101201
Release date 24 May 1973
Recorded May 1972 at
Stargroves with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
Mixed at Electric Lady, New York.
Genre Rock, folk rock
Language English
Length 4 minutes 42 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Eddie Kramer

'Over the Hills and Far Away' is the third track from English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1973 album Houses of the Holy.

Overview

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant originally constructed the song in 1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, a small cottage in Wales where they stayed after completing a gruelling concert tour of the United States.[1] Page plays a six-string acoustic guitar introduction with a melody reminiscent of 'White Summer'. Page repeats the theme with 12-string acoustic guitar in unison. In an interview published in Guitar World magazine's November 1993 issue, Page commented on the construction of the song:

GW: There's an acoustic guitar running throughout the song. Did you play a main acoustic and then overdub an electric?

Page: No, we played it through entirely as you know it, but I was playing electric.

GW: So you simply edited out of the beginning?

Page: Yeah, that's right. 'Presumably'. It sounds that way. It sounds like the acoustic is going straight through.

Plant's vocals enter on the next repetition. He tenderly offers himself to the 'lady' who's 'got the love [he] need[s].' The acoustic guitars build in a crescendo toward the abrupt infusion of Page's electric guitars along with drummer John Bonham's and bass guitarist John Paul Jones' rhythm accompaniment.

Through the pre-verse interludes and instrumental bridge, 'Over the Hills and Far Away' stands out as an example of Jones and Bonham's tight interplay. Following the final verse, the rhythm section fades out, gradually replaced by the echo returns from Page's electric guitar and a few chords played by Jones on harpsichord.[2] In the final 8 bars, Page executes a linearly descending/ascending sequence and then concludes with the idiomatic V-I tag on pedal steel guitar.

The song was released as Houses of the Holy's first U.S. single, reaching number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, later becoming a staple of the Classic rock radio format.

Set lists from Led Zeppelin concerts frequently contained 'Over the Hills and Far Away', the song being one that the band introduced on stage well ahead of its studio release.[3] The group first played it during their 1972 concert tour of the United States and retained it consistently through 1979, before omitting it from their final tour of Europe in 1980. In singing the song live, Plant commonly followed the words 'pocket-full of gold' with 'Acapulco gold', as can be heard on the live album How the West Was Won. Also, at concerts guitarist Jimmy Page performed an extended guitar solo, which essentially consisted of the rhythm and lead guitar parts of the album version split into two separate pieces. This extended solo made the live renditions last almost or more than seven minutes.

Archive footage of this track being performed live at Seattle in 1977 and at Knebworth in 1979 was used for an officially distributed video of the song, used to promote the 1990 Remasters release.[4] The video accompanied a compact disc single which was released following the successful 'Travelling Riverside Blues' release.[5]

The song was first called 'Many, Many Times', as shown on a picture of the original master on the Led Zeppelin website. Among blogging and forum-attending Led Zeppelin fans, the song has gained the abbreviation OTHAFA. The title of this song (as well as many others by Led Zeppelin and other artists) was the name of an episode of That 70's Show. It was also the name of an episode of One Tree Hill.

Chart positions

Single

Chart (1973) Peak position
US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart[6] 51
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart[7] 28
US Record World 100 Top Pop Chart[8] 31
Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart[9] 63

Single (Digital download)

Chart (2007) Peak position
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart[10] 63

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, harpsichord, Mellotron
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Eddie Kramer – engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Sutcliffe, Phil (2003). "Led Zeppelin: Back to Nature". Q: 34. ISSN 0955-4955.
  2. Tolinski, Brad and Di Benedetto, Greg (January 1998). "Light and Shade: A Historic Look at the Entire Led Zeppelin Catalogue Through the Eyes of Guitarist/Producer/Mastermind Jimmy Page". Guitar World 18 (1): 100. ISSN 1045-6295.
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 62. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 62. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  5. Lewis, Dave (2003). “Led Zeppelin at Knebworth”, Led Zeppelin: The 'Tight but Loose' Files: Celebration II. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84449-056-1. 
  6. Hot 100 Singles - 28 July 1973. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  7. Top 100 Singles - 4 August 1973. Cash Box. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  8. Top 40 for 1973 - August 1973. Record World. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  9. RPM Singles Chart - 4 August 1973. RPM. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.
  10. Hot 100 Digital Songs - 1 December 2007. Billboard. Retrieved on 2009-01-19.