Immigrant Song

'Immigrant Song' is a 1970 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, and recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England in June 1970, and mixed at Island Studios, London in July 1970, and Ardent Studios, Memphis, in August 1970. It appeared as the opening track on Led Zeppelin's third album Led Zeppelin III, released on 5 October 1970. 'Immigrant Song' was also issued as a promotional single in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Jamaica, Mexico, Japan, and the Philippines. Like 'Whole Lotta Love', it was released against the band's wishes. It reached number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, number 4 in Canada, and number 16 in Australia. The song is memorable for Plant's banshee like cry, and pounding guitar and drum riff.

Overview

'Immigrant Song' was written in June 1970, with inspiration being derived from an official cultural visit to Iceland on 22 June 1970. The song opens with a wall of echoed audiotape feedback by guitarist Jimmy Page, and a count-in by drummer John Bonham, which then switches to a rhythmic staccato riff throughout. Prior to 'Black Dog' on 1971's Led Zeppelin IV, this was the most heaviest song in Led Zeppelin's catalogue. The lyrics display singer Robert Plant's interest in ancient history and myths, with references to Viking longships and the Hammer of the Gods - later picked up on and reused by the media to describe the power of Led Zeppelin's music. The musical basis of the song however goes back to Page and Plant's vacation trip to Bron-Yr-Aur where there was discussion of writing a song with epic lyrics and historical references, with the band laying down some backing tracks first at Headley Grange, before the Iceland trip was the direction Plant was looking for. Within six days of having visited Reykjavik, the band had already rehearsed and recorded the song, with its debut at the 1970 Bath Festival.

Shortly after Led Zeppelin performed this song live in Germany in July 1970, German heavy rock band Lucifer's Friend recorded a single entitled 'Ride in the Sky' (November 1970), which has a very similar guitar riff and a horn line replacing Plant's cries. The riff in the song 'Crazy Horses' (1972) by the Osmonds was also directly influenced by 'Immigrant Song', with the high-pitched wails by Plant imitated by a Tannerin device, and the pumping bass line recycled on another song 'Hold Her Tight'.

Live performances

'Immigrant Song' was the set list opener from the Bath Festival of 1970 to 1972 North American tour. For the rest of the tours in late 1972 and 1973, it was performed as the encore. On the 1972 tours, the song was preluded by a guitar drone later dubbed 'LA Drone'. It was never played again, until Plant's solo tours of 1988 and 1990. It was then used as part of the intro riff to 'The Wanton Song' on the Page and Plant tours, and also performed by Jimmy Page at Jeff Beck's Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in 2009.

Chart positions

Single

  • US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart (1971) 8
  • Italian Top 25 Singles Chart (1971) 21
  • US Record World 100 Top Pops (1971) 10
  • Canadian CHUM Chart (1971) 2
  • Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart (1971) 4
  • US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart (1971) 16
  • Dutch Singles Chart (1971) 9
  • South African Top 20 Singles Chart (1971) 7
  • Australian Go-Set Top 60 Singles Chart (1971) 16
  • Japanese Top 20 Singles Chart (1971) 10
  • German Top 100 Singles Chart (1971) 6
  • Swiss Singles Chart (1971) 4
  • Malaysian Top 10 Singles Chart (1971) 4
  • Austrian Singles Chart (1971) 13
  • New Zealand Top 50 Singles Chart (1971) 4
  • Spanish Singles Chart (1971) 11

Single (Digital download)

  • UK Singles Chart (2007) 109
  • US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart (2007) 71
  • Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart (2007) 54

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Immigrant Song French single front cover

Formats and track listings

1970 7" single (US/Australia/New Zealand: Atlantic 45-2777, Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 70460, Belgium: Atlantic BE 650222, Canada: Atlantic AT 2777, France: Atlantic 650 226L, Italy/Jamaica: Atlantic ATL 45-2777, Greece: Atlantic 2091 043, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1007A, the Netherlands: Atlantic ATL 2091043, Portugal: Atlantic ATL N 28101, South Africa: Atlantic ATS 531, Spain: Atlantic H 671, Sweden: Atlantic ATL 70.460, Turkey: Atlantic 71505)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Hey Hey What Can I Do' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.55

1970 7" radio edit (US: Atlantic 45-2777 PL)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' [stereo] (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Immigrant Song' [mono] (Page, Plant) 2.23

1970 7" single (Colombia: WEA 167/168, Costa Rica: Atlantic 70.029, Mexico: Atlantic 1701-1919, Philippines: Atlantic 45-3741)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Tangerine' (Page) 3.10

1970 7" single (Japan: Nihon Gramophone DT-1180)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Out on the Tiles' (Bonham, Page, Plant) 4.07

1970 7" single (South Africa: Atlantic ATS 528)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Friends' (Page, Plant) 3.54

1970 7" single (Uruguay: Atlantic 2164013)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Gallows Pole' (trad. arr. Page, Plant) 4.56

1970 7" single (Venezuela: Atlantic 5-018)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Whole Lotta Love' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.12

1970 7" EP (Mexico: Atlantic 2207-014)

  • A1. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • A2. 'Tangerine' (Page) 3.10
  • B. 'Out on the Tiles' (Bonham, Page, Plant) 4.07

1970 7" EP (Bolivia: Polydor 608030)

1971 7" single (Canada: Atlantic GS 45847)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Hey Hey What Can I Do' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.55

1971 7" single (Japan: Atlantic P-115A)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Hey Hey What Can I Do' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.55

1971 7" single (Argentina/Chile/Peru: Atlantic 2091 149)

  • A. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • B. 'Bron-Y-Aur Stomp' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.16

1992 CD single (US: Atlantic 2777-2)

  • 1. 'Immigrant Song' (Page, Plant) 2.23
  • 2. 'Hey Hey What Can I Do' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.55

Credits

Musicians:

  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion

Production:

  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
  • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
  • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

Bibliography

  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).

External links

Registrations

  • APRA: GW01078462
  • ASCAP: 390244458
  • GEMA: 1343579-001
  • ISWC: T-070.080.286-3
  • US Copyright Office: EU0000212957

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