Picking your favourite song from a back catalogue as vast and impressive as Led Zeppelin’s is never light work, and, sometimes, just picking the one song 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.
Robert Plant, the band’s enigmatic lead singer, has also been asked over the years and rather than pick his singular favourite (something we imagine changes as frequently as the weather does), has instead spoken about the nine songs that the group made in their time together which have the most significance to him. We’ve pulled together all of those answers for one perfect playlist.
Over the course of eight studio albums, Led Zeppelin created an abundance of tracks that could all be possible contenders to be Plant’s favourite, and 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 true muso to answer, but it also speaks highly of the band’s dynamic variety that they brought to their work.
Bonafide classics such as ‘Kashmir’ and ‘All My Love’ do make their way onto the list but perhaps what is most revealing is that track’s you’d assume would be on Plant’s list such as ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Stairway To Heaven’ both of which have been omitted. It says more about the strength of the band’s back catalogue of world-class material than anything else.
Robert Plant favourite Led Zeppelin songs:
‘The Immigrant Song’ (1970)
Speaking to radio station Q107 in 2010, Plant shared the reason why this song meant so much to him. Revealing: “I think ‘Immigrant Song’ was great. Having been to Iceland, where we wrote it, I could understand exactly how it caught me musically and the agitation of the music too. It was smooth, cool.”
As he told Chris Welch in his 1994 book Led Zeppelin, reflecting on the now-iconic trip to Iceland, “We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be cancelled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal.
“The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. ‘Immigrant Song’ was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.”
Kashmir is the track that Plant has mentioned on most occasions as being his all-time favourite Led Zep track, with him telling Rolling Stone: “‘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.”
He also told Q107 about his adoration for the song in 2010: “I wish we were remembered for ‘Kashmir’ more than ‘Stairway To Heaven. It’s so right; there’s nothing overblown, no vocal hysterics. Perfect Zeppelin.”
It’s a song that has been widely cited as one of Zep’s best and shows a band who are capable of so much more than just heavy rock.
‘In My Time Of Dying’ (1975)
In an interview with Tony Bacon in 1980, ‘In My Time Of Dying’ became the topic of conversation and Plant had nothing but superlatives to say about the track.
Plant believed that ‘In My Time of Dying’ was a shining example of Jimmy Page at his absolute best, saying: “It goes on and on. But it’s great ramshackle blues slide. Straight off the top.”
Though there have been many massive moments for Page within Led Zeppelin, Plant’s choice reveals how he sees Page in many ways, still that same bluesy guitarist he always was at heart. The two songwriters naturally shared a great deal of respect for one another and it can be seen in this inclusion.
‘The Ocean’ (1973)
In the same interview, Robert Plant discusses how he believes ‘The Ocean’ captures his vocals at their absolute peak, saying: “The more you listen to rock ‘n’ roll and early rockabilly [you realise] there’s some incredible echo effects. They were promising you something that actually wasn’t for real, you know?
“The very idea of putting an effect on the voice, in this dream wonderland, this promise of safe love and no tears, whatever it is [laughs]. That’s what it all started from,” often cited as one of the focal points of the band, Plant’s vocal reigns supreme on this number.
‘The Ocean’ once again proves that, at his peak, there was simply nobody behind the microphone better than Robert Plant.
‘The Crunge’ (1973)
Plant was then asked what he thought was John Bonham’s finest hour was to which he replied ‘The Crunge’, explaining: “Without even having to think it out, he used to come across such—his work was so overly adequate, so extreme, and yet so understated. There were so many different elements of what he was doing. So a fill would only be there if it was necessary, but when it came, well…”
John Bonham’s power is often lauded as some of the finest rock percussion ever seen, but his precision was often overlooked.
On ‘The Crunge’, he pushes both aspects to their max and delivers a stellar performance; it’s the kind of performance that marks Plant out as a great and Led Zeppelin as the titans we know them to be.
‘The Song Remains the Same’ (1972)
Bacon then rounded off his set of questions by unsurprisingly asking the former Led Zeppelin frontman what he thought was John Paul Jones‘ magnum opus where he unequivocally stated ‘The Song Remains The Same’, adding: “I think John excelled himself. He was a great technician from a school of studied bass.”
Jones had spent his early years in the swinging set of London musical elite and had brokered an influential friendship with David Bowie.
The opening track from House of the Holy still ranks as one of Jones’ finest works. He remembered Plant’s appreciation of the track after it had originally begun life as an instrumental number. “But I guess Robert had different ideas. You know, ‘This is pretty good, Better get some lyrics – quick!'”
‘In The Light’ (1975)
In the interview with Rolling Stone where Plant discussed his love of ‘Kashmir’ in great detail, he also mentioned how fond he was on ‘In The Light’ and how this is one of his proudest moments, saying: “Kashmir, ‘All My Love’ and ‘In the Light’ and two or three others really were the finest moments.”
The largely John Paul Jones constructed track is a remarkable moment on Physical Graffiti with the unique intro, featuring Jimmy Page’s violin bow on an acoustic guitar; it stands out as one of the band’s best.
It also provides a common theme in Plant’s favourites—expert instrumentation.
‘All My Love’ (1979)
‘All My Love’ is the one that means the most to Plant on a personal level due to the tragic event which the track spurned from.
It was written after the loss of his five-year-old son Karac in 1977 following a stomach virus. He revealed in 2018: “It was just paying tribute to the joy that [Karac] gave us as a family and, in a crazy way, still does occasionally.”
A touching moment forever remembered in song, Plant’s vocals are tender and caring, it’s a mark of the band’s delicacy that is often overlooked. Well, no longer, we suggest you plug in some headphones and crank this one up to eleven.
‘The Battle of Evermore’ (1971)
Plant spoke about his love of this track during his 2019 appearance on the podcast Digging Deep, where he professed: “There was a lot of amazing variety of stylistic influence in everybody’s playing. ‘Battle of Evermore’, just as an instrumental piece, was beautiful… The way it sounded it had some essence of heralding, of drawing people together, of summing a mindset if you like.”
Featuring on Led Zeppelin IV the song saw a departure from their monumental rock sound and saw the implementation of acoustic guitar and a mandolin, it makes for a folk-tinged rock sound that seemingly nobody but Led Zeppelin could pull off.
Robert Plant’s favourite Led Zeppelin songs:
- ‘Immigrant Song’
- ‘In My Time of Dying’
- ‘The Ocean’
- ‘The Crunge’
- ‘The Song Remains The Same’
- ‘In The Light’
- ‘All My Love’
- ‘Battle of Evermore’