This majestic Page opus was initially intended to be an instrumental fanfare, which explains the lengthy intro, and when first played its working title was "The Overture". It was presented to the rest of the band during the sessions for "Houses Of The Holy" where Plant added the lyrics and it became known as "The Campaign".
On the group's 1972 Japanese tour Plant introduced the track under its various working titles, as the band had no title for the song at that stage; October 3 "Last night it was called 'Zep', tonight we'll call it - 'The Overture'" and then on the 9th as: "We can't find a name for it. We'll call it... 'The Campaign'."
In the lyrics, Plant chronicles their travels and observes that there exists a common denominator among all things and all people. The lyrical theme eventually lead the band to bestow a distinguished title upon the song befitting of its intricate composition. On subsequent tours, he would often treat audiences to lengthy monologues about the inspiration for the lyrics when introducing the song:
February 28, 1975 - Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
"This song is a song that we wrote after we travelled entirely around the world, and stopped in various ports of call, and stayed at all the dubious places that we could find, just to check out the real vibe of the country that we were in, and we found out basically in the very end the song remains the same."
May 23, 1975 - Earls Court, London
"A lot of strange things have happened to us in our time that give us the insight or outsight to have different influences on the music. Wherever you go in the end you find that the people that you meet are either good guys or bad guys. You attach yourself to the good ones. That's why we're all still together. And some of the bad ones you let go, but in the end the moral is the song remains the same."
Plant loved the track, reiterating these onstage musings, saying: "Every time I sing the song, I picture the fact that I've been round and round the world, and at the root of it there's a common denominator for everybody. The common denominator is just what makes it good or bad - whether it's Led Zeppelin or Alice Cooper. I am proud of the lyrics - somebody pushed my pen for me, I think. There are a lot of catalysts which really bring out these sorts of things - working with the group on the road, living where I live, having the friends I've got, my children, my animals."
Zeppelin's tribute to the shared nature of the human experience makes for an exciting and invigorating listen. In the framework of its original intention, "The Song Remains The Same" has been transformed into a full-paced vehicle of irresistible intensity.
Download the MP3 3:42 [3433 Kb]
Remember Page's marriage of Moby Dick and Bonzo's Montreux for the Remasters project? Well, here's my own reworked version, which includes a guitar solo!
Download the MP3 3:34 [3342 Kb]
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