Led Zeppelin Lyrics Spark Debate, Discussion And Comedy

Vince Platania, J asked:

Led Zeppelin lyrics have been celebrated, skewered and sung by millions of people all over the world. The band’s appeal is so universal that for many, the words to ‘Black Dog’ or ‘Dazed and Confused’ might be the only English phrases they will ever learn. Very few bands have found the words of their songs subject to such intense scrutiny, and analysis after analysis have been made which claim to have finally discovered the ultimate meaning of the group’s message.

What has made Led Zeppelin lyrics so fascinating to so many people? When the band first started out, their music was based on the traditional American blues that had so inspired them as young musicians far across the Atlantic in England. As a result, much of the material on their first album was in the vein of ‘love found / love lost / woman done me wrong’. However, the manner in which the band approached these topics at times differed greatly from the older blues records, in that Led Zeppelin found a way to stretch out their tracks and turn them into vaguely psychedelic epics. ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘How Many More Times’ are excellent examples from their first record of their unique approach to hard blues.

It was their later work, however, which would attract the most attention from satirists and headphone philosophers alike. With the release of Led Zeppelin IV, the band cemented their status as one of the prime purveyors of rock and roll fairy tales. ‘Stairway to Heaven’, the band’s biggest hit, was full of references to fairies and mysterious midnight ramblings. While the band would continue to find success with straight ahead rock-and-roll love songs and ballads, Led Zeppelin lyrics would grow to include a healthy dose of Tolkien references and folksy musings about England’s gentle countryside. These leanings inspired television comedy shows like Saturday Night Live to parody their seemingly childish wordplay, although the humor was mostly tongue in cheek. It has also been said that the band’s lyrical flights of fancy inspired a generation of bad teenage and college poetry.

Led Zeppelin were never afraid to tackle a broad range of subjects with their lyrics, from the detailed examination of Nordic gods found in ‘Immigrant Song’ or the experimental semi-reggae of ‘D’yer Mak’er’. Their creativity was an inspiration for the legions of garage-bands that followed in their wake, and the exact meaning of their words is still debated to this day.

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