Led Zeppelin first graced the music industry over 50 years ago and it didn’t take them long to become one of the most highly regarded acts in the world. With songs such as Stairway To Heaven and Whole Lotta Love becoming key parts of rock culture, there are few bands that have ever been able to match them in both songwriting ability and the legacy they’ve created. Here are the 10 best Led Zeppelin songs of all time.
10. The Ocean – House of the Holy (1973)
A song that features one of Led Zeppelin’s most popular riffs, proving that a riff doesn’t need to be loaded with 1000 notes or be played incredibly fast to be great, this is just a great rock riff. Adding John Bonham’s drums to it and the song is just a great song to groove along to. The Ocean features a rather odd time signature, with one bar being 4/4 and then the 7/8, but would you expect anything less from Led Zeppelin. A great song, and an even greater opener to kick off this list.
9. Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
A song that sounds like two-thirds of all AC/DC songs ever wrote, Rock and Roll follows a basic 12-bar blues progression but done with the Led Zeppelin twist that we all expect from them. The song was written in just 15 minutes as a way to blow off steam while struggling to pen some of the tracks from Led Zeppelin IV. Rock and Roll became a show opener for the band from 1972 to 1975, before eventually becoming an encore song.
8. The Song Remains The Same – House of the Holy (1973)
The song was originally titled ‘The Overture’, designed to lead into ‘The Rain Song’ (another fantastic song you need to check out. Robert Plant had different ideas though and added lyrics into the song. The song went from idea to finished song in just one day, showing that you don’t always need to sit in a studio for months to create magic, sometimes the best songs are ones that come together almost instantly.
7. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin II (1969)
A folkier song by Led Zeppelin, Ramble On has gone on to capture the hearts of millions of listeners, the song’s lyrics are inspired by Lord of the Rings, with the song mentioning the land of Mordor. Coupled with John Paul Jones’ fantastic basslines and a sweet solo from Jimmy Page, this is one of the highlights of Led Zeppelin’s entire discography.
6. Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin (1969)
From their very first album, Dazed and Confused set the stage for Led Zeppelins rapid rise to fame. With the first half that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Black Sabbath record, coincidentally another band that was earning their stripes at the same time, before kicking off with a heavy (for the time) section that features one of the best guitar solos up until that point. Dazed and Confused helped put the band on everyone’s radar and it wouldn’t be long until they became mega-stars.
5. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
A song that has become a go-to song to learn for guitar players, Black Dog is a masterclass in how to write a great rock riff and is one of the best songs that Led Zeppelin has ever written. Led Zeppelin IV really is the album that keeps on giving, with some of rocks greatest songs present on it.
4. The Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin III (1970)
The Immigrant Song is a song dripping in lyrics about Norse mythology. With a steady guitar riff driving the song, the backing music leaves plenty of room for Robert Plant to do what he does. This has gone on to become one of Led Zeppelin’s most popular songs, currently sitting at 2nd on their Spotify page with over 380 million players. Despite being 50 years old, it still remains as popular as ever with fans. And who can forget Jack Black singing along to it in School of Rock, if you haven’t seen the movie before then you owe it to yourself to check it out.
3. Kashmir – Physical Graffiti (1975)
Kashmir sounds like it was written for a James Bond soundtrack, which makes it quite surprising that it has never featured in any of the movies. The song was released in 1975 on the ‘Physical Graffiti’ album and is a really simple song, with very few parts in it, but the song extends for over 8 minutes. Check out this video of Jimmy Page discussing Kashmir with Jack White (The White Stripes) and The Edge (U2)
2. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin II (1969)
If you play the guitar, this riff was likely one of the first that you learnt. The classic riff was played on a 1959 Gibson Les Paul, which is likely a much bigger deal today than it was back then, but that just makes it even more iconic. Jimmy Page also played the guitar solo using a violin bow. The song was trimmed down to 3 minutes for the radio, leaving out over 2 minutes worth of material. But even trimmed down, the song catapulted Led Zeppelin to new heights, with Led Zeppelin II reaching number 1 in both the US and UK.
1. Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
I’m sure I just heard every guitar store employee sigh, but it is hard to deny the brilliance of Stairway To Heaven. While the song is played to death these days, although no less than Whole Lotta Love I suppose, the song is as close to a musical masterpiece as you will ever get. The 8:02 spectacle takes the listener on a journey, with Jimmy Page’s tranquil acoustic guitar, along with John Paul Jones’ recorder, which my mind always connects to Final Fantasy IX and I have no idea why, it just reminds me of that game.
About halfway through is when the song picks up the pace with a more traditional rock style, followed by perhaps the most learnt solo of all time, which was played on a Fender Telecaster despite popular belief that it was on a Les Paul. Stairway To Heaven was a very significant song as it was one of the first non-3 minute traditional hit to be played on the radio, showing that a listener wouldn’t tune out of a long song. Without Stairway, it is possible that songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody may never have received the radio plays that they did. Despite it being seen as overplayed, there is a good reason for that and it will forever remain as Led Zeppelin’s most iconic song, so there was really no other alternative for the number one spot.