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No. 12: ‘That’s the Way’ – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs

When Led Zeppelin dropped the distortion and brought out the acoustic guitars for 1970′s ‘Led Zeppelin III,’ many fans and critics were perplexed. These guys were supposed to be the hardest-hitting blues-rock band on the planet — they had no business in strumming or starry-eyed reflection.

But the No. 12 song on our list of the Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs, ‘That’s the Way,’ was, and is, definitive proof that Led Zeppelin were just as powerful (if not more powerful) when they let their guard down. As this poignant ballad proves, volume doesn’t necessarily equal intensity.

Along with two other tracks (‘Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp‘ and ‘Friends‘) from the band’s third studio album, ‘That’s the Way’ was constructed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant during their post-tour holiday at the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales, where the duo relaxed with their families, took leisurely walks through the countryside, and wrote a large batch of material, armed intimately with acoustic guitars. Page and Plant grew closer as friends and songwriters during this period, and ‘That’s the Way’ best encapsulates this mutual growth.

Plant, known mainly for his orgasmic moans and sex-fueled lyrics, sings in a warm lower register, delivering a tender narrative about two young friends torn apart by racial and social intolerance. ‘And yesterday, I saw you kissing tiny flowers,’ Plant reflects over Page’s shimmering acoustics and aching pedal-steel, ‘But all that lives is born to die.’ For Zeppelin, it was a graceful turning point toward maturity.

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