The three songs Led Zeppelin struggled to record

Once upon a time, the goal of Planet Rock Radio was to form the best fantasy rock group ever. Fans responded to the poll with an admittedly small sample size of about 4,000 respondents by identifying their favorite rock vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. The outcomes hilariously declared Led Zeppelin to be the band that fulfills rock n’ roll dreams.

In their individual classes, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham were at the top. They are the only supergroup in the world as a result, having fulfilled their potential as a whole. The band reached Promethean heights with the renowned Page—who was frequently compared to a classical composer by his peers—Bonham as the thunderous leader, Plant as the voice that could have taken Sputnik out of orbit, and Jones as the ideal multi-instrumentalist who served as both the band’s foil and glue.

But even these masters, a collection of eccentric musicians who contributed to developing the heavy metal genre, had their limits. Actually, their narrow vocabulary of hard rock made them so proficient that they sometimes tripped over each other. They were usually quite skilled at navigating the intricate webs they woven, but occasionally one would be difficult.

In light of this, we’ve read through all the band has to say about the challenging tracks in their snug pants pockets and selected the three hardest Led Zeppelin songs to perform. When even a fantastic band has trouble, you know you have a problematic arrangement.

The three songs Led Zeppelin struggled to record:

‘Four Sticks’

While he may not be the best rock ‘n’ roll drummer in the world, John Bonham is among the best. However, even he found it difficult to drum his way out of a situation that Led Zeppelin IV found themselves in with “Four Sticks,” which is arguably the least well-known song on the album. The song’s languid, melancholic passage provides a counterpoint to the intense yang of most of the song. George Harrison, after all, had advised them to provide a change of pace. They adopted a literal way to do this, rolling back into the relentless main riff without pausing to roll from the thundering 5/4 main part, to a dreamy 6/8, and back again.

It was challenging enough to capture this strange beat, let alone perform it live. Regarding Bonham’s irate difficulties, Jones noted, “It took him ages to get ‘Four Sticks’.” “I seemed to be the only one who could actually count things in. Page would play something and [John would] say, ‘That’s great. Where’s the first beat? You know it, but you gotta tell us…’ He couldn’t actually count what he was playing. It would be a great phrase, but you couldn’t relate it to a count. If you think of ‘one’ being in the wrong place, you are completely screwed”.

Stated differently, the group was playing songs from the same hymn sheet in several languages, the structure was completely disorganized, and the self-taught “Thunder of Drums” was clueless. Maybe this wasn’t so shocking; as Jimmy Page stated “The song was supposed to be abstract.” 

Looking at a Jackson Pollock, wondering which part was the nose, Bonham felt the band’s pulse. He ultimately needed two tries, according to Page, not because he performed flawlessly but rather because “it was physically impossible for him to do another.” As such, there are times when it’s obvious that the pacing is a little wrong.

‘Black Dog’

Since the blues had always been the foundation of the group, Jones’s friends expected more bread and butter to be given when he said he had an idea influenced by Muddy Waters. He would compose the “riff that would be like a linear journey” and a “rolling bass part.” Although blues is a standard, the issue was that he arrived at the studio with an absurdly unique pace. He remarked, “It was all in 3/16 time at first, but nobody could keep up with that.”

The band found this flowing beat to be too difficult, and the passages started to sound disconnected. The adage “fix it in post” must thus have been said. The band worked around Bonham’s recording of a human click track to enhance their performance, turning it into a masterpiece. “It was tricky to play,” Page acknowledged, but Bonham’s prior setbacks provided invaluable insight that helped him create a useful trick.

Jones told SiriusXM, “We struggled with the turnaround. Until Bonham figured out that you just four times as if there’s no turnaround. That was the secret.” Additionally, the music has a noticeable tension that is quite potent due to the erratic, wandering transitions.

‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’

With “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” the band’s issue was elevating a straightforward blues song to a level that fit their sound; in this sense, they had created a rod for their own back. This caused the song to spin out of control and put each member’s skills to the test. Plant spoke to Mojo as follows: “The musical progression at the end of each verse – the chord choice – is not a natural place to go.”

The singer continued, “And it’s that lift up there that’s so regal and so emotional. I don’t know whether that was born from the loins of JP or JPJ, but I know that when we reached that point in the song you could get a lump in the throat from being in the middle of it.” 

Emotionally, then, it was worthwhile. The song became a live mainstay and epitomized the band’s approach of taking big cues from blues sources and twisting them with classical sophistication.

Even though the band would subsequently claim that it was the most difficult song to record Led Zeppelin III, this was partially because they decided to record it completely live with very little post-production overdubbing. In fact, at one point you can even hear Bonham’s hammering drum pedal moving like the bedsprings in a brothel because they were so desperate to get it down to one tight take that showed off their expertise.










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