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Led Zeppelin Songs Used in Two of 2012’s Oscar-Contending FIlms

Led Zeppelin
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Does it seem to you as though you’re hearing Led Zeppelin more at the movies lately? Well, it isn’t just your imagination.

In a recent article, the Los Angeles Times took a look at a couple of instances in which the band — which has always been infamously finicky about licensing its music — relaxed its grip enough to allow independent filmmakers access to their multiplatinum catalog.

Of course, when we say “independent filmmakers,” we’re really talking about budget, rather than name value; the directors in question — Ben Affleck and David O. Russell — are Oscar winners and no strangers to the upper reaches of the box office. But this time out, they were also both working with limited funds: Affleck’s ‘Argo‘ is a period piece about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, and Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook‘ is a dramedy/romance about mental illness, neither of which lend themselves to the sort of major studio investment that tends to be necessary when you’re trying to stuff your soundtrack with hits from major bands.

Still, as far as the directors were concerned, it needed to happen. Affleck was determined to use Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ in a crucial ‘Argo’ scene because, as he put it, “It’s got an ominous feeling, but it’s celebratory in a sense as well. Zeppelin, to me, is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. People say, ‘The Beatles, the Stones.’ No. It’s Zeppelin.”

That doesn’t mean it didn’t require some passionate finagling on the part of both directors. As Russell described it when talking about his efforts to license ‘What Is and What Should Never Be,’ “You have to be like a man determined to marry somebody. And you keep coming back humbly, and humbly asking, ‘May I please show you the film? Do you know how much this means?’ It’s a slow process, and you have to go about it passionately. Otherwise, you won’t get the song.”

Next: Top Led Zeppelin Sex Songs

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