Ask any rock fan purist and they will tell you that one of the most criminally underrated musicians in the history of the genre is John Paul Jones. The bassist for Led Zeppelin, among other major compositional roles, Jones has often evaded the taglines his bandmates received. Jimmy Page is well noted as one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived. Equally, John Bonham is widely regarded as, at the very least, the most powerful drummer ever. Robert Plant also operates with the understated nonchalance of a world-class singer. But, for some reason, Jones is never really given his dues.
It’s such a crying shame because, without Jones, Led Zeppelin would be nowhere. The bassist is one of his generation’s most melodic players and should be considered a true pillar of rock ‘n’ roll as we know it. Thanks to the bassist’s time working within the London scene during the sixties’ rock boom, his is an opinion we trust more so than most. It meant when we stumbled upon the musician’s favourite Led Zeppelin songs ever we just had to share them.
Jones is a talent that can be heard throughout Zeppelin’s catalogue and particularly on the songs he selected as his favourite as part of an interview with Swedish TV back in 2003. Within the conversation, which you can watch below, Jones picks out a few songs which he would call his favourite. Of course, he was happy to pay tribute to the brilliance of ‘Stairway To Heaven‘ but also noted the brilliant ‘Kashmir’ as a standout track from Physical Graffiti, calling the song “a great showpiece” and a “very theatrical, grand gesture.”
When pressed for his favourite song, he turned his attention to ‘Kashmir’ once again sharing his appreciation for the song’s construction without nothing his integral part in the creation. It’s a song which has been picked by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as some of their favourite Led Zeppelin songs too. But, where the others have often left it at that, Jones also shared a few others that he would call his favourites. “The atmosphere on ‘When The Levee Breaks’ is amazing,” he tells the interviewer.
Another one of Jones’ favourites is the brilliant ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, the bassist recalls: “The way the rhythm [section] comes in — the way the drums come in is just magical, that changing of gear.” During an interview, Rush bassist Geddy Lee picked out Jones and this song, in particular, as sheer brilliance: “There are so many songs I could choose from Zep that feature profound but understated bass playing,” and admits, “This one is my fave.”
On ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, JPJ shines brighter than ever. Lee shares his appreciation for the bassist: “The way John Paul Jones changes gear, holds down the heavy bottom and adds terrific melody throughout the song. He is such a fluid player and all-round musical talent.” It’s a piece of musicianship which picks out Jones as a master of his craft and also a unique Led Zep fan. You can listen to each of the songs below and get a flavour of why Jones loved them more than the others.
John Paul Jones favourite Led Zeppelin songs:
- ‘When the Levee Breaks’
- ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’