The Rain Song

'The Rain Song' is a 1973 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, and recorded at Stargroves, Berkshire, England in April 1972, and mixed at Olympic Studios, London in May 1972. It appeared as the second track on Led Zeppelin's fifth album Houses of the Holy, released on 28 March 1973. 'The Rain Song' is a rock ballad, containing some of singer Robert Plant's most delicate lyrics. Originally meant to form part of an anthemic epic entailing 'The Song Remains the Same' as the opening fanfare, it was decided to separate both songs upon the addition of lyrics. The working title for the song was called 'Slush', a tongue-in-cheek title in relation to the lush string accompaniment.

Overview

'The Rain Song' is a minor-key ballad that Led Zeppelin had never attempted before. The song features the prominent use of keyboardist John Paul Jones using a Mellotron, adding a string arrangement to guitarist Jimmy Page's sweeping acoustic chords. Jones also added straight piano overdubs using a Steinway grand piano, and additional effects were added using an EMS VCS3. The genesis of the song lay in Page's new home studio at Plumpton, where he had finished installing a Vista console. 'The Rain Song' developed from ideas developed while testing and experimenting at the studio, and the song finally took shape with the addition of lyrics by Plant when rehearsals and recording took place at Stargroves in Berkshire. Because of the mechanical unreliability of the Mellotron in live situations, Jones eventually replaced it with a Yamaha GX1 synthesizer on their later tours. Page used his Gibson EDS-1275 double neck for live performances.

'The Rain Song' has appeared in the 1976 film The Song Remains the Same and the accompanying soundtrack, as part of Robert Plant's fantasy sequence. The song has also featured on the 2000 Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous, the 2010 Ricky Gervais film Cemetery Junction, and the Davis Guggenheim film It Might Get Loud.

Live performances

'The Rain Song' made its debut on the 1972 Japanese tour segueing after 'The Song Remains the Same. It was last performed in this fashion at the 1975 Earls Court shows, whereupon it was dropped for the 1977 North American tour. It returned separately in the 1979 Copenhagen and Knebworth concerts, and was the sole song from Houses of the Holy played on the 1980 Over Europe tour. Page and Plant revived the song for the 1994 MTV Unledded special, and the 1995 and 1996 world tours. Although absent from the 1994 Unledded album, it was re-included for the 2004 remastered edition.

Credits

Musicians:

  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals
  • John Paul Jones – Mellotron Mk.II, EMS VCS3, Steinway grand piano, bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion

Production:

  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • Eddie Kramer – engineer
  • Keith Harwood - 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).

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