Kashmir (song)
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Kashmir Song
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album Physical Graffiti
Released 24 February 1975 (1975-02-24)
Length 8:37
Label Swan Song
Jimmy Page
Audio sample

"Kashmir" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. Included on their sixth album Physical Graffiti (1975), it was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) over a period of three years with lyrics dating to 1973. The song became a concert staple, performed by the band at almost every concert after its release. The song has been described as one of Led Zeppelin's two most overtly progressive epics.[3]


The riff for the song uses a non-standard guitar tuning. Page explained, "I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and Arabic stuff. It started off with a riff and then employed Eastern lines underneath."[4] The song's time signature combines duple and triple meter; the drums and vocal melody is in bars of 4
+ 2
while the guitar riff is played in cycles of 3
.[5][6] Bonham's drums were recorded through an Eventide Instant Phaser PS-101 supplied by engineer Ron Nevison.[7] Plant stated that Bonham's drumming is the key to the song: "It was what he didn't do that made it work".[8]

Page recorded a demo version with drummer John Bonham late in 1973 when John Paul Jones was late for the recording sessions. Plant later added lyrics and a middle section and, in early 1974, Jones added orchestration.[8][9] Page and Plant had previously travelled to Bombay in 1972 and worked with various Indian musicians, gaining production ideas from recording sessions of "Four Sticks" and "Friends". Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections for "Kashmir",[9] but Jones also used a Mellotron; he commented: "the secret of successful keyboard string parts is to play only the parts that a real string section would play. That is, one line for the First Violins, one line for Second Violins, one for Violas, one for Cellos, one for Basses. Some divided parts [two or more notes to a line] are allowed, but keep them to a minimum. Think melodically".[10]


The lyrics were written by Robert Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin's 1973 US Tour, in an area he called "the waste lands"[4] of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert.[8][9] This was despite the fact that the song is named after Kashmir, a region disputed by India and Pakistan.[11] As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:

The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. 'Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams...' It's one of my favourites... that, 'All My Love' and 'In the Light' and two or three others really were the finest moments. But 'Kashmir' in particular. It was so positive, lyrically.[8]

Plant also commented on the challenges he faced in writing lyrics for such a complex piece of music:

It was an amazing piece of music to write to, and an incredible challenge for me. ... Because of the time signature, the whole deal of the song is ... not grandiose, but powerful: it required some kind of epithet, or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments. But everything is not what you see. It was quite a task, 'cause I couldn't sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me. It's true: I was petrified, it's true. It was painful; I was virtually in tears.[12]

In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, Page mentioned that at the time the song was composed, none of the band members had ever been to Kashmir.[13]

Live performances

"Kashmir" was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its debut in 1975.[14] One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD.[15] The surviving members also performed the song at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988.[16] It was again performed at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at The O2, London on 10 December 2007[17] and later released on Celebration Day in 2012.[18] That concert's rendition of the song, was nominated in 2014 for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance at the 56th Grammys.[19]

Page and Plant recorded a longer, live version, with an Egyptian/Moroccan orchestra for No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded (1994)[20] and performed the song with an orchestra on their 1995 tour.


All four members of Led Zeppelin have agreed that "Kashmir" is one of their best musical achievements.[21]John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound.[8] Plant has stated that "Kashmir" is the "definitive Led Zeppelin song",[22] and that it "was one of my favourite [Led] Zeppelin tracks because it possessed all the latent energy and power that wasn't heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin."[4] During a television interview in January 2008, he also named "Kashmir" as his first choice of all Led Zeppelin songs that he would perform, commenting "I'm most proud of that one".[23] Page has indicated he thinks that the song is one of the band's best compositions.[24] "If you listen to 'Kashmir' very loud, it's just unbelievable," enthused Swans front man Michael Gira. "Jimmy Page's guitar is lyrical and soulful - just beautiful. I don't understand what Robert Plant is saying, though I suppose that's a good thing. I don't know the lyrics. I think they're about hobbits or something."[25]

Led Zeppelin archivist Dave Lewis describes "Kashmir" as follows:

Unquestionably the most startling and impressive track on Physical Graffiti, and arguably the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded. 'Kashmir' went a long way towards establishing their credibility with otherwise skeptical rock critics. Many would regard this track as the finest example of the sheer majesty of Zeppelin's special chemistry.[9]

In a retrospective review of Physical Graffiti (Deluxe Edition), Brice Ezell of PopMatters described "Kashmir" as Physical Graffiti's "quintessential track".[26] Ezell called "Kashmir"'s "doomy ostinato riff and rapturous post-chorus brass/mellotron section" as "inimitable moments in the legacy of classic rock".[26]


The song is listed highly in a number of professional music rankings:

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Classic Rock United States "The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time"[27] 1995 20
Classic Rock United Kingdom "Ten of the Best Songs Ever!!.. (Bubbling under)"[28] 1999 23
VH1 United States "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time"[29] 2000 62
Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[30] 2003 141
Blender United States "Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own"[31] 2003 *
Q United Kingdom "1010 Songs You Must Own!"[32] 2004 *
Q United Kingdom "Ultimate Music Collection - Rock"[33] 2005 *
Q United Kingdom "100 Greatest Songs of All Time"[34] 2006 74
VH1 United States "VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[1] 2009 21
Triple J Australia "Hottest 100 of All Time"[35] 2009 98

(*) designates unordered lists

Chart positions

Single (digital download)

Chart (2007) Peak position
UK Singles Chart[36] 80
Swiss Singles Chart[37] 64
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart[38] 42
US Billboard Hot Digital Tracks Chart[39] 49
Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart[40] 33

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Copyright issue

The 1988 Schoolly D song "Signifying Rapper", which samples "Kashmir", was the target of lawsuits following its use in the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant.[41] In 1994, Page and Plant successfully sued Home Box Office to have the song removed from televised showings of the film[42] and Live Home Video and distributor Aries Film Releasing were ordered to destroy any unsold copies of Bad Lieutenant as part of a copyright infringement ruling.[43]

Cover versions and sampling


  1. ^ a b "VH1 Greatest Hard Rock Songs - January 2009". VH1. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 2009. 
  2. ^ The Gramophone: Volume 84, Issue 1. C. Mackenzie. 2006. p. 99. 
  3. ^ Edward Macan (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0195098884. 
  4. ^ a b c Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 1-85797-930-3, p. 76.
  5. ^ Robinson, Karl D. "Rock Hall STI Lesson 44". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Courtright, Kevin (2009). Back to Schoolin'. Xulon Press. p. 97. The basic melodic and chordal material in "Kashmir" is in 3/4 (or 6/8) time, yet Bonham's relentless drum beat is in straight 4/4...Additionally, the song has sections in full 4/4 which provide a stabilizing counterpoint. 
  7. ^ Guitar World, May 2005
  8. ^ a b c d e Liner notes by Cameron Crowe for The Complete Studio Recordings.
  9. ^ a b c d Dave Lewis (1994),The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  10. ^ "John Paul Jones' Mellotron". Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved . 
  11. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006). Retrieved 2007. 
  12. ^ "Hottest 100 of All Time", Triple J, Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  13. ^ William S. Burroughs, Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, and a Search for the Elusive Stairway to Heaven, Crawdaddy!, June 1975.
  14. ^ "Led Zeppelin Shows". Led Zeppelin - Official Website. Retrieved . 
  15. ^ "Led Zeppelin [DVD Box Set] - Led Zeppelin | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved . 
  16. ^ "Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary | [title]". Led Zeppelin - Official Website. Retrieved . 
  17. ^ "Led Zeppelin The O2 Arena - December 10, 2007". Led Zeppelin - Official Website. Retrieved . 
  18. ^ "Celebration Day - Led Zeppelin | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved . 
  19. ^ "2014 Nominees" (PDF). 
  20. ^ "No Quarter - Page & Plant, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved . 
  21. ^ Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography by Ritchie Yorke
  22. ^ Led-Zeppelin.org. "Led Zeppelin Assorted Info". Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. 
  23. ^ Tight But Loose: News Archived 22 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Dave Schulps, Interview with Jimmy Page, Trouser Press, October 1977.
  25. ^ Pinnock, Tom: "My Life In Music", Uncut, January 2015, p122
  26. ^ a b Ezell, Brice (27 February 2015). "Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017. 
  27. ^ "The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time - 1995". Jacobs Media. Retrieved 2009. 
  28. ^ "Ten of the Best Songs Ever!.. (Bubbling under) - September 1999". Classic Rock. Retrieved 2009. 
  29. ^ "The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time - July 2000". VH1. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 2009. 
  30. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - November 2003". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009. 
  31. ^ "Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own - 2003". Blender. Retrieved 2009. 
  32. ^ "1010 Songs You Must Own! Q50 - #2: Air Guitar - September 2004". Q. Retrieved 2009. 
  33. ^ "Ultimate Music Collection: Rock - April 2005". Q. Retrieved 2009. 
  34. ^ "100 Greatest Songs of All Time - October 2006". Q. Retrieved 2009. 
  35. ^ "Hottest 100 - Of All Time". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009. 
  36. ^ "UK Top Singles - 24 November 2007". chartstats.com. Retrieved 2009. 
  37. ^ "Top 100 Singles - 25 November 2007". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2009. 
  38. ^ "Hot 100 Digital Songs - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 2009. 
  39. ^ "Hot 100 Digital Tracks - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Retrieved 2009. [dead link]
  40. ^ "Hot Digital Singles - 1 December 2007". Billboard. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 2009. 
  41. ^ Tobias, Scott (27 November 2002). "Interview: Abel Ferrara". The A.V. Club. Onion. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. 
  42. ^ Jeffrey, Don. "Plant, Page Oust Song From Film" Billboard 5 March 1994: 12
  43. ^ Sandler, Adam (14 December 1994). Live Must Destroy 'Bad' Vids Sez Judge. Variety
  • 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

External links

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