The Led Zeppelin song Robert Plant called “embarrassing”

Not every rock song is supposed to hold up to the test of time. Even though many artists have been able to write staggering lyrics that can resonate with anyone from any generation, there are always a few songs that have a timestamp on when they came out, either through dated production or the artist using vernacular indicative of the period. While most of Led Zeppelin’s catalogue falls into timeless rock music, Robert Plant thought one song wasn’t his proudest performance.

When looking through the band’s first four albums, there is hardly a filler track. Storming onto the scene right after Jimmy Page left The Yardbirds, the band’s debut became the ultimate example of rock and roll getting pushed to its limits, with Page creating one classic riff after the next on ‘Communication Breakdown’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’.

Page’s precision behind the fretboard was only matched by Plant, who would wail like a banshee throughout the group’s first handful of records. While the band were proud to wear their blues influences on their sleeve most of the time, their self-titled album saga showed them reaching for new influences all the time as well, with Page penning the Eastern-tinged ‘Friends’ and working on acoustic material on tracks like ‘Thank You’.

Even though the press wanted nothing to do with Zeppelin in their early days, the band figured they would call their bluff by releasing their fourth album with as little fanfare as possible. Not even giving the album a proper name, what would commonly become known as Led Zeppelin IV remains one of the crowning achievements of 1970s rock, containing songs that would become the foundation of the next generation of musicians like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Black Dog’.

Despite the band still having their foot firmly planted in the blues with their rendition of ‘When the Levee Breaks’, ‘The Battle of Evermore’ marked their most apparent journey into mystical music. Being an avid lover of the work of JRR Tolkien, Plant sculpted a story revolving straight out of a fantasy novel, complete with Sandy Denny providing brilliant backing vocals behind him.

Even though the song has been considered one of Zeppelin’s most unique compositions, Plant thought that the lyrics needed a bit of work in retrospect. When working with Allison Krauss on the album Raising Sand, Plant would go on to say that he was insecure about the writing of the song, saying, “I was living in a dream then, talking about C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. And, of course, it brings hoops of derision into everybody who picked up a guitar or got near a microphone by 1980…the thing about ‘Evermore’ is… I said to Alison, ‘I’m embarrassed by this.’ She said, ‘But you can’t be embarrassed, because it’s a young person’s moments by living in an area which is like that, which resonates that period’”.

Regardless of the time he wrote the lyrics, the music behind him helped set the scene for the entire movement, including a brilliant performance by Page on the mandolin and various sonic touches from John Paul Jones. Although Zeppelin may have had more precision when working on their true epics, ‘The Battle of Evermore’ is a brilliant example of them creating a sonic landscape with only a few sparse elements.

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