Robert Plant has led (at least) two significant musical lives.
From his early work in the late 1960s and 1970s with the famed blues-rock group Led Zeppelin to his more recent work in the 21st century with Alison Krauss, Plant has done what some say is impossible: enjoy a second career act.
Here, we wanted to celebrate and dive into Plant’s illustrious catalog and highlight the best 10 songs of his multiple careers. So, without further ado, let’s go.
1. “Whole Lotta Love”
The rising, sunlight of Robert Plant’s voice is clear on this track from Led Zeppelin. Matched with the incredible guitar player, and six-string shredder, Jimmy Page, this one is as indelible and memorable as Plant’s golden locks of hair. You can just hear him screech along with the banshee playing of Page. It’s the opening track of the band’s album, Led Zeppelin II.
2. “Going to California”
A sweet song to put on a mixtape and a must for anyone driving out west, “Going to California” features mandolins, acoustic guitars, and Plant’s powerful, flower-like voice. You feel honestly bad for the band who’s had all his wine drunk up. It was released on the band’s fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV, in 1971.
3. “D’yer Mak’er”
Oh, oh oh oh, oh ohhhhhhhh! This song offers a touch of reggae in the mix as Plant climbs above the music and lets his sun-break vocals shine. You don’t have to go.. oh oh oh oh ohhhhh! The song hit audiences from the band’s 1973 album, Houses of the Holy.
4. “Can’t Let Go”
Written originally by Randy Weeks, this song appears on Plant and Krauss’ 2021 album, Raise The Roof, and it’s as smooth as butter and as lovely as a Sunday morning. It’s all about not being able to forget someone, even though that’s clearly what the singer should do. It’s a beast of beauty.
5. “You Lead Me To The Wrong”
Written originally by Ola Belle Reed, this song also comes from Plant and Krauss’ 2021 record, Raise the Roof, which was the follow-up to their 2007 offering, Raising Sand. This song is haunting and remarkable, a regretful track that talks about being done wrong by a loved one. It’s impeccable.
6. “Stairway to Heaven”
Who doesn’t know this number? It’s as epic as a 20th-century rock track can get and has been covered amazingly by people like Heart to your next-door garage rock neighbor. Plant is heavenly on this song, telling stories and shining like a castle of silver and gold. It was released on Led Zeppelin IV and is considered, by some, to be the best rock song of all time.
7. “Over The Hills And Far Away”
Another acoustic number from the British rockers of Led Zeppelin, this track hit audiences originally from the band’s 1973 record, Houses of the Holy. It’s not a hard-hitter as some might think, instead, its a sweet ballad made even more so by Plant’s illustrious vocals. It’s also a favorite of acoustic guitar students to try and play, noodling around in their bedrooms.
8. “All My Love”
A late offering in the oeuvre of Led Zeppelin, “All My Love” was released on the band’s 1979 LP, In Through the Out Door. It’s a sweet number, an ode to lovers everywhere.
9. “When the Levee Breaks”
As badass as a song can get. “When the Levee Breaks” features distorted harmonicas and rhythms that would make your pet dog run wild. It’s a lightning crash. The song was released on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album but was originally written well before then. It was first recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929.
10. “Please Read The Letter”
From Plant and Krauss’ first album, the 2007 offering, Raising Sand, this track was originally written and recorded by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (as Page and Plant) for the duo’s 1998 album, Walking into Clarksdale. Here, it’s sweet as honeysuckle from the country-focused duo.
Photo by David McClister / Courtesy ShoreFire