Thursday, June 9, 2011

Top 20 Led Zeppelin Songs

I did my other two huge favorites from the time period of the late sixties and early seventies (Pink Floyd and The Beatles), so I need to finish up by including Led Zeppelin. I do also love bands like The Who, Cream, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, Hendrix, etc., but Floyd, Beatles, and Zeppelin are my very favorites from that time. I save Zeppelin for last only because their songs are harder for me to rank than with Floyd or The Beatles.

1. No Quarter - This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, lyrical songs I have ever heard, and the mix of hard riffs with soft interludes and echoey vocals makes this the most listened to Zep song in my iTunes. I also highly recommend the cover of this song by Tool.

2. Black Dog - As a four year old boy, this was the very first song that pounded its way into my consciousness. It was the first time I ever thought about MUSIC as something other than what Sesame Street or other TV shows provided. The best album of all time -- Led Zeppelin's untitled Fourth album -- had just come out and my parents played it over and over again. This song led it off, and the sound of Jimmy Page's guitar warming up made a fascinating intro for a 4 year old kid. The song was unusual, too, with its alternating music and vocal parts, capped off with a relentless ending guitar solo.

3. Stairway to Heaven - There's a reason this song topped all the charts for best song of the century. It's perfect blend of haunting melody, buildup of tension, mystical vocals, blazing guitar solo, and crunching coda seemed, well...heaven sent. This is also the very first song I taught myself to play on guitar, and I believe I do a pretty fine job.

4. Ramble On - I seem to have a soft-spot for the Zeppelin songs that are mostly soft acoustic numbers but suddenly throw in a wallop of hard crunchiness, and that's exactly what this song delivers. It doesn't hurt that it is about Tolkien, too!

5. Tangerine - I love playing this song on my guitar. It has such a lovely melody, and the outro is gorgeous.

6. Over the Hills and Far Away - Another song I love to play on my guitar. The riff is addictive and when the hard part hits, it packs a great punch.

7. Rock and Roll - Perhaps the greatest intro drum riff ever, and since it followed immediately after Black Dog on Zep's masterpiece fourth album, it formed the greatest duo of rock songs in my mind.

8. Immigrant Song - Another fantastic Page riff, and it's about Vikings, too! I love the original, but sometimes I love the LA Drone version better.

9. Fool in the Rain - A very funky song for Zeppelin, considering their usual blues/rock roots.

10. Whole Lotta Love - When I was little this seemed like such a heavy rock song. Nowadays other bands have come along that are far harder, but this one was special way back then. What a riff and what a solo!

11. Ten Years Gone - Another of those songs that alternates between super-soft loveliness and crunchy distortion.

12. Travelling Riverside Blues - This was recorded live for a BBC broadcast, but it sounds amazingly clean. Blues rock at its finest.

13. What Is and What Should Never Be - Like I said before, I have a soft spot for these soft songs that turn hard, and the outro is echoey fun.

14. When the Levee Breaks - John Bonham's drum sound on this song rewrote the books for drummers everywhere. It was huge and made you sit up and take notice immediately. This song closed the fantastic fourth album perfectly.

15. Achilles Last Stand - A guitar tour-de-force for Jimmy Page, though Plant's vocals fit the song perfectly as well.

16. Moby Dick/Bring It On Home - I have my favorite edited version of this, which might be sacrilege to some, but works wonderfully for me. I cut out the annoying drum solo in Moby Dick, leaving in the splendid guitar, and melding this directly into the follow up Bring It On Home.

17. Four Sticks - One of my favorite songs to play on my guitar. It's said that Bonzo used four drum sticks to get his pounding sound. All of the songs from this fourth album are amongst my favorites. This one is mainly instrumental, since Plants' vocals are mostly there to accompany the sound Page and Bonzo are making.

18. Kashmir - Many people rate this song much higher. I do love it, but not as much as the above songs. The guitar sound and chord progression are an amazing invention for Page, and I love the little violin part they threw in.

19. The Rain Song - I pretty much ignore the vocals on this one, as they don't thrill me, but the guitar part is special. I taught myself to play it because of how gorgeous it was, especially the way it finishes.

20. That's the Way - There's something addictive about this simple, soft acoustic song that I just love.

Honorable Mention:
Going to California
Thank You
In the Light
Misty Mountain Hop
The Battle of Evermore
How Many More Times
Good Times Bad Times
Heart Breaker
Dazed and Confused
Nobody's Fault But Mine
Poor Tom
You Shook Me
Your Time Is Gonna Come
Custard Pie
The Song Remains the Same
The Ocean
Since I've Been Loving You
Out On the Tiles
Hey Hey What Can I Do
Living Loving Maid
In My Time of Dying
White Summer/Black Mountainside


  1. It would be impossible for me to do this. I went through a huge Zeppelin stage as a teenager, and was absolutely obsessed.

    I don't know of any band that combined poetry, power guitar, bluesy bass, and inventive drum beats the way that Zeppelin did.

    I also grew up on stories about them fishing off the balcony at their room in the Edgewater Inn in Seattle.

    And you should watch the Documentary: "It Might Get Loud."

  2. I saw that one. I love The Edge and Jack White also!

  3. Unfortunately, being born in 1980, I don't know that much Zeppelin, but the songs I do know (mainly the more famous ones) I do like. And I also saw 'It Might Get Loud'. I was amazed when Jack White made a working guitar out of a coke bottle, a piece of wood and some wire. I'm not a musical person (although I LOVE listening) but that documentary was inspiring stuff...

  4. I played an easy version of stairway to heaven for a high school concert. I'll never forget it. My music teacher put me down for not choosing to learn the real way instead of congratulating me for attempting to sing and play something quite difficult at the same time. Geez, I was fourteen. Gimme a break. Anyway, yeah, gotta love Led! :o)

  5. I wish I could have seen that, Jessica. I can't sing for anything, and the only song I even try to do both on is Wish You Were Here.

  6. I know of no Led Zeppelin songs but you certainly know how to compile a list.

  7. I saw them perform in St. Louis when I was a...ummm..younger lad.

    Awesome group. They not only rocked the stage, they set the stage. For excellence.

  8. Stareway to Heaven is very pretty. Although I'm certain I've listened to all of the other songs, these are still a little before my time.

  9. I always feel a little sad when people classify music as being before their time. I can understand it with some music, but other music like Zeppelin, Floyd, and The Beatles is timeless. Everyone should be giving them a serious try regardless of age, IMO. My lists would be a great place to start!

  10. I went through a Zeppelin phase too though I only owned one album, Led Zeppelin IV, as a teen. I wore that album out! I especially love "When the Levee Breaks" and "Battle of Evermore."

  11. Checked yer list just to make sure 'Immigrant Song' was on it. Carry on.

  12. Hey man, great list! I'm a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan and I have to say that I agree with you almost entirely on this list! Seriously though, Led Zep was a band that just seemed to only release amazingly well written songs. One of my favorite aspects of all their songs is just their ability to create a sonic landscape that is completely unique and beautiful for each song- they just conjure up a familiar but different feeling in me in EVERY song!!