The Battle of Evermore

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The Battle of Evermore
Appears on Led Zeppelin IV
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 320171033
Release date 8 November 1971
Recorded January 1971 at
Headley Grange, Hampshire with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
Mixed at Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Folk rock, rock
Language English
Length 5 minutes 38 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'The Battle of Evermore' is an acoustic guitar and mandolin song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, featured on their untitled fourth album, released in 1971.

Overview

The tune for this was written by guitarist Jimmy Page at Headley Grange while he was experimenting on the mandolin owned by bassist John Paul Jones.[1][2] As Page explained in 1977:

'Battle of Evermore' was made up on the spot by Robert [Plant] and myself. I just picked up John Paul Jones's mandolin, never having played a mandolin before, and just wrote up the chords and the whole thing in one sitting.[3]

Vocalist Robert Plant had recently been reading about Scottish folklore and this inspired him to compose the lyrics to this song.[4] Plant felt he needed another voice to tell the story, and for the recording of this song folk singer Sandy Denny was invited to duet with Plant. Denny was a former member of British folk group Fairport Convention, with whom Led Zeppelin had shared a bill in 1970 at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Plant played the role of the narrator and Denny represented the town crier. Page elaborated:

[The song] sounded like an old English instrumental first off. Then it became a vocal and Robert did his bit. Finally we figured we'd bring Sandy by and do a question-and-answer-type thing.[5]

To thank her for her involvement, Denny was given the symbol on the album sleeve of three pyramids (the four members of Led Zeppelin each designed their own symbols for the album). This is the only song Led Zeppelin ever recorded with a guest vocalist. In an interview he gave in 1995 to Uncut magazine, Plant stated:

[F]or me to sing with Sandy Denny was great. We were always good friends with that period of Fairport Convention. Richard Thompson is a superlative guitarist. Sandy and I were friends and it was the most obvious thing to ask her to sing on 'The Battle of Evermore'. If it suffered from naivete and tweeness - I was only 23 - it makes up for it in the cohesion of the voices and the playing.[6]

Lyrics

'The Battle of Evermore' is loosely based upon the events surrounding the Battle of Pelennor Fields from J. R. R. Tolkien's Return of the King. The time span of the song encompasses events in the novel from Aragorn's parting for the Paths of the Dead until the end of the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The 'Queen of Light' is Eowyn, who bids Aragorn goodbye and then turns to join the Rohan army. The 'Prince of Peace' is Aragorn, and he embraces the gloom of the Paths of the dead.

Live versions

'The Battle of Evermore' was played live at Led Zeppelin concerts during the band's 1977 concert tour of the United States. For these live performances, Jones sang Denny's vocals with Plant and played acoustic guitar whilst Page played mandolin. Sometimes drummer John Bonham sang Denny's vocals instead of Jones. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant also recorded a version of the song in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. Singer Najma Akhtar sang Sandy Denny's vocal part.

Fairport Convention performed 'The Battle of Evermore' with guest vocalists Robert Plant and Kristina Donahue at Fairport's Cropredy Convention on 9 August 2008. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss regularly covered 'The Battle of Evermore' on their tour of USA and Europe in Spring and Summer 2008.[7]

Accolades

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Blender United States The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now![8] 2003 *
Q United Kingdom 150 Greatest Rock Lists Ever[9] 2004 4 (10)
Q United Kingdom 1010 Songs You Must Own![10] 2004 *

(*) designates unordered lists.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – mandolin, acoustic bass
    • John Bonham - tambourine, percussion
  • Additional musicians:
    • Sandy Denny - vocals
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer
    • George Chkiantz - mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Rosen, Steven (July 1977). "Jimmy Page Interview". Guitar Player. Retrieved on 10 August 2013.
  3. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 53. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  5. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  6. Williamson, Nigel (May 2005). "'Good Times...Bad Times'". Uncut (96): 57. ISSN 1368-0722.
  7. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 54. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  8. The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! - 2003. Blender. Retrieved on 10 August 2013.
  9. 150 Greatest Rock Lists Ever: Book of Rock - July 2004. Q. Retrieved on 10 August 2013.
  10. 1010 Songs You Must Own! Q50 - #3: Duets - September 2004. Q. Retrieved on 10 August 2013.