"Ramble On" is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. It was co-written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and was recorded in 1969 at Juggy Sound Studio, New York, during the band's second concert tour of the United States. In 2010, the song was ranked #440 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The song's lyrics were heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The opening line ("Leaves are falling all around") is apparently a paraphrase of the opening line of Tolkien's poem "Namárië". The poem may also be the inspiration for the entire first verse.
The Tolkien references later in the song refer to abstract themes — Mordor, "girl so fair", the ring — without invoking any of Tolkien's stories in detail:
Mine's a tale that can't be told,
My freedom I hold dear;
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air,
'Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.
References to Tolkien's work also exist in other Led Zeppelin songs, such as "Misty Mountain Hop" and "The Battle of Evermore".
The guitar's jangly introduction employs a classic Jimmy Page technique: using regular open chords superimposed higher on the fretboard.
There has been much doubt around Bonham's percussions in the background throughout the song, having regard to the particular resonance that it captures. There are no versions consistent in this respect: often mistaken for bongos, some said of a small plastic bin for waste played with the hands from the side of the bottom, others about the sticks on his drum kit vinyl seat pad, or even the soles of the shoes he wore during the recording session and so rhythmically beaten with his drum sticks; the book John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums reports instead of a hard case for guitar on which Bonham improvised percussion background with bare hands.
The song also serves as an illustration of the tight interplay between bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham.
Jones' light, melodic bass phrases give way to an ascending motif which follows Bonham's soft percussions.
Until 2007 "Ramble On" was never performed live in its entirety at Led Zeppelin concerts. However, part of the song was performed by the band in the middle of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" at a concert at Toronto on 2 November 1969, as can be heard on the Led Zeppelin bootleg Listen to my Bluebird. In addition, a couple lines are sung wonderfully by Robert Plant during Communication Breakdown, at the show on March 21, 1970 Vancouver, BC CA Pacific Coliseum. The full version of the song was played at Led Zeppelin's reunion show on 10 December 2007, at the O2 Arena in London.
In June 2008 Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones joined the Foo Fighters on stage at Wembley Stadium and performed "Ramble On" with vocals performed by Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins on drums. Interestingly, the two Foo Fighters reversed performing roles for "Rock and Roll" the other song performed with the Led Zeppelin pair.
Single (digital download)
|Chart (2007)||Peak position|
|Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart||66|
Train did a cover of the song in early 2001 and released it as a single. Producer Brendan O'Brien heard Train's version and agreed to produce their second album, Drops of Jupiter. He later produced two more Train albums, My Private Nation and For Me, It's You.
- Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
- Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7