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No. 35: ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’ – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IERqvhBi30

In the grand scheme of all things Led Zeppelin, ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp’ rarely gets enough credit or attention for representing the thematic center and, arguably, emotional soul, of the perennially underrated ‘Led Zeppelin III.’ But we sure won’t make that mistake, and so we’ve slotted it here, at No. 35 on our list of the Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs.

Named after the 18th-century Welsh cottage (properly spelled “Bron-Yr-Aur,” meaning “breast of gold”) where Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sequestered themselves in the summer of 1970 to recuperate from the hardships of touring and start work on new material, the song exults in the folk influences and pastoral themes that would come to dominate Zeppelin’s third LP.

In the lyrics, Plant describes a woodland walk with a fictitious dog named Strider (clearly borrowed from Aragorn’s alias in ‘The Lord of the Rings’), while Page, for his part, shows off astonishingly deft fretboard fingering and elastic strumming techniques in what amounts to a Welsh-flavored country-music hoedown.

No electric guitars were used in the recording (though a plugged-in version titled ‘Jennings Farm Blues’ has appeared on bootlegs) and John Paul Jones played a fretless, five-string acoustic bass, as well as contributing to the songs’s final arrangement. John Bonham, meanwhile, leaves his mark with an insistent bass drum thump and provided additional studio percussion by way of spoons and castanets — further enhancing the song’s earthy feel along with the entire band’s supporting hand claps.

The results beautifully reflect the other, softer side to Led Zeppelin. The song, as well as the entire LP, reveals the band’s intentions to never rein in their boundless versatility just to simply churn out endless streams of potent hard rockers — no matter how incredible these might be.

Next: Like Fine Wine

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