Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant’s life has been a blast, and the regrets he holds in his life are rare. How many kids who grew up in an ordinary family in the West Midlands go on to become one of the greatest frontmen that rock music has ever seen? However, despite the fairytale career he’s had, there remains one thing that still irks him to this day.
Led Zeppelin’s career was a whirlwind, and the artist Robert Plant is today is some contrast from the one that burst onto the scene. The singer has aged gracefully into folkier territory as he continues to develop as an artist rather than defiantly trying to recreate the magic of his early days. When the band formed in 1968, it didn’t take Led Zeppelin long to cause a tornado and become an unstoppable force that caught everybody’s attention.
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 established the blueprints for most modern rock shows as we know them today.
While the infantile days of Led Zep are the source of precious memories for Robert Plant, on a personal level, there is one thing he finds “horrific” about the material they made. Speaking to The Guardian in 2017, Plant delved into the vast canon of music he has created, even pre-dating Led Zeppelin. When the topic of conversation turned to Led Zeppelin III track ‘Friends’, Plant explained how he viewed the effort as a turning point in his approach to singing and one he wishes he made earlier.
“I realised that tough, manly approach to singing I’d begun on ‘You Better Run’ wasn’t really what it was all about at all. Songs like [Led Zeppelin I’s] ‘Babe I’m Going To Leave You’,” he remarked. “I find my vocals on there horrific now. I really should have shut the fuck up!”
In recent years, Plant has spoken freely about how he has disassociated himself with Led Zeppelin as the years go on, and he can no longer relate to everything they created. ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is a track that he used as an example in 2019 while sitting down with UCR as part of their ‘Nights’ radio show.
“The construction of the song, the actual musical construction, is very good,” Plant praisingly said before adding a caveat. “It’s one of those moments that really can stand without a vocal and, in fact, it will stand again without a vocal, I’m sure, because it’s a fine piece of music. Lyrically, now, I can’t relate to it, because it was so long ago. I would have no intention ever to write along those abstract lines any more.”
He continued: “I look at it, and I tip my hat to it, and I think there are parts of it that are incredible. The way Jimmy Page took the music through, and the way that the drums almost climaxed and then continued —it’s a very beautiful piece. But lyrically, now, and even vocally, I go, ‘I’m not sure about that.'”
In some ways, it’s positive that Plant isn’t clinging on to the past and seeing it through rose-tinted glasses. He’s an artist first and foremost, which means he should always be on the move. Plant has continued to be successful in his solo career because he continues to look forward rather than clutch on to the halcyon days of Led Zeppelin, and integrity is all that matters to him.