Swan Song (Led Zeppelin song)

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Swan Song
Published by Flames of Albion Music
Registration ASCAP
Recorded 27 February 1974, at Headley Grange, Hampshire,
with Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studios.
Genre Progressive rock, rock
Language English
Length 58 minutes 44 seconds (parts one and two of suite)
Composer Jimmy Page
Label Swan Song Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Ron Nevison and Keith Harwood

'Swan Song' is a 1974 instrumental song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The track was composed by Jimmy Page, and recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England, in February 1974. An epic suite of mostly acoustic driven material, it officially remains unreleased, and has only appeared on bootleg recordings. It was one of the most rumoured songs in the Led Zeppelin catalogue during the history of the band.

Overview

'Swan Song' was intended as a four seasons-style suite of songs for the band's sixth album, Physical Graffiti.[1] Demo tapes of over sixty minutes worth of unedited material have since surfaced which includes Mellotron passages, classical acoustic guitar, and occasional bass and drums. A total of fourteen overdubbed guitar parts were used.[2] The ambitious project was an attempt to musically represent summer, autumn, winter, and spring. The song's name was leaked numerous times over the following weeks to the music press, until 4 April 1974, in an article in the New Musical Express, the name Swan Song Records was chosen as Led Zeppelin's new label. Due to substantial material already recorded for Physical Graffiti, plans to include it on the double album were dropped, and only the audio sketches remained. 'Swan Song' became regarded as a 'lost epic' amongst fans. It wasn't until the band split and Page played a song entitled 'Bird on the Wing' during the 1983 ARMS charity concerts that fans were able to hear what some of 'Swan Song' sounded like. Singer Paul Rodgers who joined Page, added lyrics. Page and Rodgers in the Firm, later developed this further with the nine minute epic 'Midnight Moonlight', off their eponymous debut album The Firm.[3]

Bootlegs containing Led Zeppelin's 'Swan Song' have since surfaced from the late 1980s onwards. This includes the almost complete demo collection to a 3 minute 40 second excerpted version with bass and drums.

Live performances

'Swan Song' was never performed live.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, Hammond organ
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Ron Nevison - engineer
    • Keith Harwood - engineer, mixing

References

  1. (July 2012) "Led Zeppelin: Story of Their Lost Masterpiece". Classic Rock. ISSN 1464-7834.
  2. Calef, Scott (2009). Led Zeppelin and Philosophy: All Will be Revealedlocation=Chicago, IL. Open Court Publishing Co., 281. ISBN 978-0-8126-9672-1. OCLC 318422308. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 135. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. OCLC 782996334.