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The Story Behind The Song: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

Stairway To Heaven may be the epic track that makes 'best of' playlists - but in 2010 Robert Plant told Classic Rock that the elaborate Physical Graffiti highlight was Led Zep's musical peak

“I wish we were remembered for Kashmir more than Stairway To Heaven,” Zeppelin singer Robert Plant told me more than three decades after the the former song was first released as the last track on side two of the band’s Physical Graffiti double album. “It’s so right; there’s nothing overblown, no vocal hysterics. Perfect Zeppelin.”

It certainly is. Indeed of all the many fine musical moments Zeppelin would accumulate throughout their eight-studio-album career, Kashmir remains one of their hallmark tracks. It’s of the same order of class as previous touchstone moments Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven – that is, destined to transcend all musical barriers and become universally recognised as a classic. It was also arguably the last time they would scale such heights.

A musical and metaphorical drive toward some irresistible far-off horizon (utilising the same signature DADGAD tuning that guitarist Jimmy Page had previously used to create such memorable showcases from his repertoire as White Summer and Black Mountain Side), Kashmir encapsulated Zeppelin’s multi-strand approach to making rock music: part rock, part funk, part African dust storm.

Originally titled Driving To Kashmir, the song had begun as a lyric Plant had been inspired to write in the autumn of 1973 after a long, seemingly never-ending drive through “the waste lands”, as he put it, of southern Morocco. Nothing, in fact, to do with Kashmir, in northern India, at all.

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