Robert Plant rarely had reasons to be terrified with his Led Zeppelin bandmates. He considered quitting music to be a teacher at one point, but things came naturally to him while singing for the band. Still, Plant was virtually in tears writing the lyrics for “Kashmir,” and we get it.
Robert Plant called ‘Kashmir’ the signature Led Zeppelin song
Some fans point to “Stairway to Heaven” as Led Zeppelin’s defining moment. The Led Zeppelin IV centerpiece is the band’s most-streamed song on Spotify. Yet Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page say “Kashmir” was the band’s definitive moment.
Page’s climbing main guitar riff, John Paul Jones’ string arrangement to augment the guitar, and John Bonham’s steady drum groove anchor the standout Led Zeppelin song. Plant’s timeless lyrics fit perfectly with the Eastern music vibe.
All four Led Zeppelin members came together to create an all-time classic song. Yet Plant admitted writing the lyrics was one of the most challenging tasks he ever faced.
Plant was ‘virtually in tears’ writing his ‘Kashmir’ lyrics, and we understand why
Coming up with the words for “Kashmir” was one of the singer’s most difficult tasks in Led Zeppelin. Plant said he was “virtually in tears” and “petrified” while facing the task, Rolling Stone writes.
We can understand why.
First, the epic music demanded epic lyrics, and Plant understood he had to match his bandmates’ performances. “It was an amazing piece of music to write to and an incredible challenge for me. The whole deal of the song is not grandiose, but powerful. It required some kind of epithet or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments,” Plant said (per Louder).
Adding to the challenge was the rhythmic complexity. Bonham’s beat didn’t neatly overlap the guitar and strings Page and Jones played. The contrasting time signatures gave the music itself an off-kilter feel and presented Plant with a massive challenge — writing lyrics that mesh with both sides of the music. He had to straddle the line, and Plant was nearly in tears as he faced the task.
Though it wasn’t easy, Plant nailed his part of the song. His lyrics meshed with the mystic sound of the music, and they rested perfectly between the contrasting time signatures played by his bandmates. He might have been nearly crying while writing words for “Kashmir,” but Plant rose to the challenge.
The song remains a classic decades later
A petrified Robert Plant met the challenge with his “Kashmir” lyrics, and the song became a hit for Led Zeppelin.
The tune had lasting power, too.
Led Zeppelin is notoriously stingy about how their music is used. They won’t let just anyone — other musicians, TV shows, or movies — borrow their tunes. Diddy lifted the main riff from “Kashmir” for his 1998 song “Come With Me.” He must have done right by Led Zeppelin. The song led Page to change his mind about rap music completely. He even performed the song with the rapper then known as Puff Daddy at the 1999 Net Aid benefit (via YouTube).
Writing the lyrics to the Led Zeppelin epic “Kashmir” had Robert Plant virtually in tears. Yet he rose to the challenge and helped create a classic and timeless song.
For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel.