Picking your favourite song from a back catalogue as vast and impressive as Led Zeppelin’s is never light work, and, sometimes, just choosing the one track can be wholly impossible to pull off. It’s a question all Led Zeppelin members have faced in their time as part of the biggest band in rock and one we imagine a lot of you have pondered too. Usually, the group’s members refused to answer the question, but on a few occasions, the media training slipped, and the band opened up about their trusted tunes.
Throughout eight studio albums, Led Zeppelin created an abundance of tracks that could all be possible contenders to be Plant’s favourite. If you ask any Led Zep fan which track means the most to them, you are bound to get a different answer from one day to the next. That’s not only as you would imagine any real muso to answer, but it also speaks highly of the band’s dynamic variety that they brought to their work.
The four-piece, who formed in 1968 after the mercurial talent of Rogert Page saw him go in search of a new band having seen The Yardbirds fall apart, Led Zep quickly made waves and made Page’s previous success look like a speck of dust in comparison. Recruiting Plant, Bonham and Jones, the group found their name thanks to Keith Moon, who said their new band would go down like “a lead balloon”.
The group were quickly signed up as part of the growing roster of rock acts on Atlantic Records, which didn’t take long to become the hottest place to be in the world of music. The band toured relentlessly and refined the idea of a rock show like no other band had done before them. With their touring schedule, the group showcased a vision of the future and laid the blueprints for most modern rock shows as we know them today.
Following the band’s split in the wake of the tragic death of drummer John Bonham, the surviving three members of the group have been inundated with questions about their favourite Led Zeppelin track. It’s fascinating to comprehend why these songs from Zeppelin’s more than impressive repertoire means the most to each member and the poignant memories they have attached to their selection.
Led Zeppelin’s favourite Led Zeppelin songs:
Robert Plant’s favourite Led Zeppelin song:
Robert Plant’s choice couldn’t be anything, but, the utter triumph that is ‘Kashmir’ from 1975’s Physical Graffiti. Speaking to Rolling Stone once upon a time, Plant made the admission: “It’s one of my favourites… that, ‘All My Love’ and ‘In the Light’ and two or three others really were the finest moments,” reflected the singer.
There may have been fine moments but nothing was quite like the easter-influenced number: “‘Kashmir’ in particular. It was so positive, lyrically. It’s the quest, the travels and explorations that Page and I went on to far climes well off the beaten track… That, really to me is the Zeppelin feel.”
The track was originally titled ‘Driving to Kashmir’ and in a 2010 interview with MOJO, the former Led Zep frontman spoke about the origin of the classic: “‘Kashmir’ came from a trip Jimmy and me made down the Moroccan Atlantic coast, from Agadir down to Sidi Ifni. We were just the same as the other hippies really.”
As recently as 2018, in a feature-length piece with Dan Rather he spoke in further detail about the intricacies of the track that make it so perfect to him: “It was a great achievement to take such a monstrously dramatic musical piece and find a lyric that was ambiguous enough, and a delivery that was not over-pumped,” said Plant.
Jimmy Page’s favourite Led Zeppelin song:
Jimmy Page is in agreement with his former bandmate on this one, with the guitarist also finding it impossible to look past ‘Kashmir’ as their divine magnum opus. Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2012, Page said he felt the track contained the greatest Led Zeppelin riff and even considering the myriad of songs he could have selected — there was only one choice in his mind. Page, famed for his evolving blues-rock sound instead picked his Eastern-influenced gem from Physical Graffiti, the brilliant ‘Kashmir’, saying quite simply that the track “has to be the one.”
He acknowledges that while his riff may well be the biggest moment on some Zepplin songs, Led Zeppelin would never have reached the heights they did without the rest of the band’s incredible input. “It’s difficult to be asked, ‘What’s your favourite Zeppelin track?’ They all were,” Page told Fricke of Rolling Stone with a knowing buoyance. “They were all intended to be on those albums.” But he decided to narrow it down soon after. “I suppose ‘Kashmir’ has to be the one,” he said.
“All of the guitar parts would be on there,” he said. “But the orchestra needed to sit there, reflecting those other parts, doing what the guitars were but with the colours of a symphony.”
“I just know that [Bonham] is gonna love it, and he loves it, and we just play the riff over and over and over, because it’s like a child’s riff,” Page remembered. It’s one of the band’s undying anthems and a bastion of what made Led Zeppelin one of the greatest bands on the planet.
John Paul Jones’ favourite Led Zeppelin songs:
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. 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 that 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 recalled: “The way the rhythm [section] comes in — the way the drums come in is just magical, that changing of gear.”