Robert Plant Admits He Struggles To Sing Only One Song

When contemplating the indelible vocal legacy of Robert Plant, our minds instinctively conjure images of his electrifying performances in iconic Led Zeppelin tracks like “Whole Lotta Love,” “Immigrant Song,” “Rock and Roll,” and the timeless epic “Stairway to Heaven.” Plant’s distinctive wails and vocal dexterity have become synonymous with the legendary rock band. Yet, amidst this musical tapestry, there exists a surprising twist – a song that posed a unique challenge to Plant’s vocal prowess, and it is not a Led Zeppelin creation. Unbelievably, the test came in the form of “Polly Come Home,” a track from Plant’s 2007 debut album with Alison Krauss, titled Raising Sand.

The focal point of this vocal challenge was “Polly Come Home,” a composition originally penned by the late Gene Clark, co-founder of The Byrds, for his early country-rock duo Dillard & Clark. On Raising Sand, Plant, and Krauss chose to cover this piece, along with another Clark creation, “Through the Morning, Through the Night.” Despite its softer origins as an acoustic ballad on Dillard & Clark’s 1969 album, “Through the Morning, Through the Night,” Plant and Krauss opted to further slow down the tempo for their rendition, crafting a rendition that simmered, intoxicatingly altering the song’s original energy.

Plant candidly admitted that “Polly Come Home” presented one of the toughest vocal challenges he had encountered, second only to his Yardbirds audition. The song’s emotional depth, coupled with its deliberate pace, presented a unique hurdle for the seasoned artist. Plant explained, “The song itself is just, it’s so poignant. And it’s so slow, so the very opening line of the song – in my chest, my lungs, my vocal cords, in my sense of timing – it was, ‘How am I gonna get these words right to the end of that bar without collapsing?’ It was just such a beautiful lilt.”

Despite the vocal struggles, Plant’s efforts did not go unnoticed. Raising Sand soared to No. 2 on both the Billboard 200 and Country charts, also claiming the top spot on the Rock chart. The album’s triumph was further solidified when it clinched five Grammy Awards for Plant and Krauss, including the coveted Album of the Year and Record of the Year for their collaborative masterpiece, “Please Read the Letter.”

Reflecting on the daunting task, Plant humorously remarked, “So this is the guy that sang ‘Immigrant Song.’ He’s just gonna go and sing this song here where I need an iron lung to give me a little more air to get the song out.” The juxtaposition of tackling a languid tempo with the powerhouse behind “Immigrant Song” added both magnificence and daunting challenges to the artist’s journey.

Even for a vocal titan like Robert Plant, unexpected challenges can arise in the form of songs like “Polly Come Home.” Departing from the familiar Led Zeppelin sound, this track from Raising Sand showcased the artist’s ability to navigate uncharted territories. Despite the vocal hurdles, Plant’s dedication to capturing the essence of the song’s slow tempo and poignant lyrics ultimately contributed to the success of Raising Sand, solidifying it as a celebrated collaboration that garnered well-deserved recognition and accolades.

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