Top 5 Led Zeppelin Songs for Road Trips

You jump in the car. You just want to hit the open road. Music can take on a different role in this setting. You may have a co-pilot, or you may be solo. Either way, it can be liberating to fly down the road, belting out lyrics and banging on your steering wheel. There can be long moments of just zoning out as the music washes over you. It’s strange how the scenery can enhance what you are hearing, just as the audio can affect what you are seeing.

Videos by American Songwriter

And for classic rock enthusiasts, there’s really no band better than Led Zeppelin to take you on a trip to wherever you want to go (both figuratively and literally).

1. “The Ocean,” Houses of the Holy, written by John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant

Sitting round singing songs ’til the night turns into day
Used to sing about the mountains, but the mountains washed away
Now I’m singing all my songs to the girl who won my heart
She is only three years old, and it’s a real fine way to start

The final song from 1973’s Houses of the Holy, “The Ocean,” chugs along in an odd time signature. The John Bonham drum sound is iconic, and the guitar riffs pair perfectly. The song’s ending morphs into a straight rock ‘n’ roll boogie. 

Robert Plant sings of the girl who won his heart, in a nod to Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” where Marie is only six years old. Plant reveals that his inspiration is only three years old. His real-life daughter, Carmen, was that age at the time of the recording session.

2. “The Battle of Evermore,” Led Zeppelin IV, written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant 

The Queen of Light took her bow
And then she turned to go
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom
And walked the night alone
Oh, dance in the dark of night
Sing to the morning light
The dark Lord rides in force tonight
And time will tell us all
Oh, throw down your plow and hoe
Rest not to lock your homes
Side by side, we wait the might of the darkest of them all

The only instance in Led Zeppelin’s catalog to feature a guest vocalist, Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention sings along for almost the entire song. The mandolin-driven instrumentation sets the song apart from the normally guitar-driven formula Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones relied on. The imagery inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing sets the tone for this classic. “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Ramble On” call on the same inspiration.

[RELATED: Why Did Led Zeppelin Break Up?]

3. “Achilles Last Stand,” Presence, written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

Oh, to sail away
To sandy lands and other days
Oh, to touch the dream
Hides inside and never seen. yeah
Into the sun, the south, the north
At last, the birds have flown
The shackles of commitment fell
In pieces on the ground

This is the opening track of the 1976 LP Presence. Again drawing on mythological imagery, “Achilles Last Stand” resulted from the band’s travels. Led Zeppelin spent time in Morocco in 1975 preparing for their next album. Page had already been interested in Middle-Eastern music, but it was brought more to the forefront of his awareness in Morocco. The song utilizes different time signatures, and the lyrics reflect the surroundings of a band that has traveled around the globe. 

4. “The Rain Song,” Houses of the Holy, written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

It is the springtime of my loving
The second season, I am to know
You are the sunlight in my growing
So little warmth I’ve felt before
It isn’t hard to feel me glowing
I watched the fire that grew so low

It is a lush ballad that evokes imagery of nature and the elements. The pairing of the open-tuned guitars with the mellotron supplies an emotional backdrop for Plant’s singing. The elevation of the song when Bonham’s drums appear adds to the sentimental vibe. The song’s creation was in response to a comment George Harrison made to the Led Zeppelin drummer.

Jimmy Page biographer Brad Tolinski recounted Page’s recollection: “George was talking to Bonzo one evening and said, ‘The problem with you guys is that you never do ballads. I said, ‘I’ll give him a ballad,’ and I wrote ‘Rain Song,’ which appears on Houses of the Holy. In fact, you’ll notice I even quote ‘Something’ in the song’s first two chords.”

5. “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin III, written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands
To fight the horde, sing and cry
Valhalla, I am coming

A viking on a quest. This song is the one that’ll get you banging on the steering wheel. Inspired by the band’s time in Iceland, Robert Plant sings of the travels of a pirate of the sea and his awareness of the consequences of his actions. The band used it to open its live shows from 1970 to 1972.

Let’s face it. Led Zeppelin’s entire catalog is suited to road trips. Crank it up, and let the road take you where it leads. Remember, it’s not the destination. It’s the journey.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Watch: Lauren Daigle Performs Latest Single “Turbulent Skies”

A Q&A With the Home Sweet Home Lyric Contest Promotion Winner, Shawn Chambliss