One of the most influential bands in rock history, Led Zeppelin was formed in London in the late 1960s. Comprised of Robert Plant (vocalist), Jimmy Page (guitarist), John Paul Jones (bassist/keyboardist), and John Bonham (drummer), this innovative combination of talent developed a unique style that is still easily recognizable today. Led Zeppelin’s willingness to draw from sources outside of standard rock-n-roll, such as the blues and folk genres, helped to create their unique vision and solidify the band as rock legends. In addition to their dynamic musical scores (written by Jimmy Page), the lyrics penned by Robert Plant were also considered experimental – with their ambiguous meanings – leaving interpretation largely up to their listeners. Because of this, it can be hard to classify Led Zeppelin’s songs in the typical manner. The emotional responses to any number of their songs are various and fans have always loved to debate the true intention/meanings behind each song. Thus, in the spirit of analyzing the beloved band and their iconic works, the following is a curated list of the saddest Led Zeppelin songs of all time, in descending order.
5. Nobody’s Fault but Mine (Presence Album)
Our first song on the countdown is “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” which appeared on Led Zeppelin’s seventh studio album. Although a lyrically secularized version of the original by blues artist – Blind Willie Johnson, the band decided to maintain the smooth slide-guitar melody. Critic Andrew Doscas from Pop Matters gave this song a positive review by describing it as, “A behemoth made from bone-crunching basslines and a maniacal harmonica solo…elevating the earthly and human elements of the blues while simultaneously elevating their own music to almost divine levels.” Despite the harsh, caustic sound of the song, the lyrics as well as the mood of the song are heavily mournful and fatalistic – making it a perfect hybrid of sadness and anguish. Could there be a better combination for producing a rock hit?
4. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin Self-Title Album)
Our next song, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” was one of Led Zeppelin’s earliest songs and it appeared on their debut, self-titled album. Like our previous tune, this selection is also a cover written by Anne Bredon, but heavily altered by Joan Baez. Multiple performers arranged this song over the years with Jimmy Page “allegedly” playing his take on Baez’s version during his very first meeting with Robert Plant. This song deals with the loneliness experienced by musicians (or anyone else who travels on the regular) and the emotional conflict that occurs when they must leave their lovers and/or families behind. Spoiler alert: The themes in this song make it a perfect companion for our number one choice.
3. Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin III)
The number three spot belongs to “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” which was released on Led Zeppelin’s third studio album. The gritty and abrasive sound of this tract harkens back to their blues influences. Perfectly paired with the following angsty lyrics: “Everybody trying to tell me/That you didn’t mean me no good/I’ve been trying, Lord, let me tell you/Let me tell you, I really did the best I could,” this song showcases nothing less than pure – raw talent. Song Facts has called this production, “The best rock guitar solo of all time.”
2. Ten Years Gone (Physical Graffiti)
“Ten Years Gone,” a single from Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio albums take the second spot on our list. All one needs to hear is the instrumental introduction, with its smooth blend of guitar and mandolin harmonics to recognize that this song is going to illicit every relationship regret we’ve ever experienced. The rich, full-bodied chords combined with the dreamy lyrics enable the listener to teeter between an echo of euphoria and the gloom of reality. In fact, no sentiment could convey the tone of this song better than the following excerpt from the song itself – “Changes fill my time, baby, that’s alright with me/In the midst I think of you, and how it used to be.” This gem has long been a favorite of die-hard fans and works great as an introduction to the band.
1. All My Love (In Through the Out Door)
Finally, our #1 song belongs to none other than the heart-wrenchingly beautiful, “All My Love,” which was released on Led Zeppelin’s eighth and final studio album. While indeed a love song, this selection isn’t discussing the anguish of a lost romantic love, but rather an everlasting familial love. Fans of Led Zeppelin will recognize this track as Robert Plant’s tribute to his young son who passed away the previous year. According to an article from Auralcrave, “It was recorded in a single session, because it was impossible for him [Robert Plant] to emotionally repeat the words in another recording.” Sadly, this hauntingly mournful song somewhat foreshadowed the end of Led Zeppelin, as Jon Bonham passed away a year later. All these years later and this song is still revered by even the most casual fan.
In conclusion, it is clear from the above-mentioned tracks that Led Zeppelin was a powerhouse of talent and gifted at producing songs that were not only musically and lyrically advanced in their experimentation, but that also emotionally engaged their audience. And this audience is still hungry for more. The band’s last reunion tour was in 2007, with Jon Bonham’s son, Jason, filling in for his father. Now in 2021, it seems as though another reunion tour is highly unlikely, despite Jimmy Page releasing a song in 2020, which he worked on with the Rolling Stones. When asking Robert Plant for his opinion on another reunion tour, Express News reports that the singer graciously brushed aside the idea with the following: “We are very pleased and glad with our very, very short career.”