Tolkien’s Stairway for Led Zeppelin

I was driving on SR-836 recently — in that auto-pilot state of mind which combines boredom with resignation that death is but a texter away — and I heard something on a local FM radio station which surprisingly got my attention. I heard these lyrics:

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told
My freedom I hold dear
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air
Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, the evil one, crept up
And slipped away with her

Led Zeppelin Manager pep talk: “Listen up guys. Whaddya say you chat up the fans about how this song is based on a classic novel by a Catholic professor from Oxford?”

Well to be more precise, at first I thought I heard “Mordor” and then positive I heard “Gollum.” Then cognitive dissonance arose because the radio LED and my brain indicated the band playing was Led Zeppelin. My knowledge of Led Zeppelin consisted of knowing that “Stairway to Heaven” was their greatest hit and that their appearance epitomized the impossibly skinny rock band-look which can only be achieved through dedicated drug use or bulimia.

More surprises, turns out it wasn’t just some throw away line. Documentation of the interest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works by Robert Plant can be found in a wide array of sources, from The Catholic Report to the Metal Storm blog. Led Zeppelin had at least 4 songs which directly referenced Tolkien’s works — The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings — while the influence on “Stairway to Heaven” is not as direct, it still is considered likely:

  • Ramble On [1969]
  • The Battle Of Evermore [1971]
  • Misty Mountain Hop [1971]
  • Stairway to Heaven [1971]
  • Houses of the Holy [1973]

Hope I didn’t ramble on [ ... ahh].

The lyrics to Ramble On are copied in full at end of this post.


———————————————————————————————————————————–
Led Zeppelin – Ramble On — Lyrics

Leaves are fallin’ all around, time I was on my way
Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay
but now it’s time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way
for now I smell the rain, and with it, pain
and it’s headed my way
Aw, sometimes I grow so tired
but I know I’ve got one thing I got to do

A-ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now
Sing my song, I’m goin’ ’round the world, I gotta find my girl
On my way, I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on, gotta find the queen of all my dreams

Got no time to for spreadin’ roots, the time has come to be gone
And though our health we drank a thousand times
it’s time to ramble on

A-ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now
Sing my song, I’m goin’ ’round the world
I’ve gotta find my girl
On my way, I’ve been this way ten years to the day
I gotta ramble on, I gotta find the queen of all my dreams
I tell you no lie

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear
How years ago in days of old when magic filled the air
’twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, mm-I met a girl so fair
but Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her
her, her, yeah, and ain’t nothin’ I can do, no

I guess I’ll keep on ramblin’, I’m gonna
Sing my song/Sh-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, I’ve gotta find my baby
I’m gonna ramble on, sing my song
Gonna work my way all around the world
Baby, baby/Ramble on, yeah

A-do-do-n-do-n-do-n-do, my baby/Baby
A-ramble on, baby
A-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-de-do-de-do-de-do-de-do-de, yeah, yeah/
I can’t stop this feelin’ in my heart
Everytime I feel I will leave, I really gotta part
Gotta keep searchin’ for my baby/
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, babe
I’ve gotta keep a-searchin’for my baby
My, my, my, my, my, my, my baby/
Yeah-yeah, a-yeah-yeah, a-yeah-yeah
My, my, my, my, my, my baby/
Yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah
Ooh, my, my, my-my, my-my, my-my, yeah/
I can’t find my bluebird, I’d listen to my bluebird sing
but I, I can’t find my bluebird
I keep a-ramblin’ baby/ Ah, ah, yeah
I keep a-ramblin’, baby/I keep, keep, keep, keep, keep
Babe, babe, babe, babe/
I keep a-ramblin’, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby
My, my babe
Bay-ya-by/A-goodbye, goodbye, a-goodbye, baby
Well, something’s wrong

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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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One Response to Tolkien’s Stairway for Led Zeppelin

  1. robstroud says:

    Thanks. I wasn’t at all familiar with this information.

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