No. 7: ‘Ramble On’ – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs
‘Ramble On’ was the standout track of side two of ‘Led Zeppelin II,’ perched perfectly between ‘Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)‘ and ‘Moby Dick.’ The track, which is No. 7 on our list of the Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs, was a study in musical style shifts, moving from the contemplative, almost jazzy verses Robert Plant provided into the hard-hitting chorus where the full band kicked in with force and Plant’s powerful voice was on display.
Plant found inspiration in the verses from J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ referencing “the darkest depths of Mordor” and “Gollum and the evil one,” while serving up the less obvious reference “Leaves are falling all around,” which was a paraphrased nod to Tolkien’s poem ‘Namarie.” The singer would later state in an audio documentary that the references to the book embarrassed him.
As for the musical side of the track, there’s been plenty of debate about John Bonham‘s bongo-like sounds on ‘Ramble On.’ In the book, ‘John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums,’ it’s reported that he used a hard case for guitar played with his bare hands to provide the percussive background sound.
The song has become a classic in spite of its rare appearances in the live setting. The band would occasionally work parts of the song into their set, but with the exception of the group’s 2007 reunion show, it’s not known to have been played in full at any prior performances.