Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kashmir

Kashmir: The best ever song anywhere, anytime. Yet the music (melody) is simple and the lyrics not all that important (Plant's voice, in my opinion, is what it's about - not what the words mean but how they sound).

What the heck is it about that song that makes it better than Staircase to Heaven (which shares the mystery, but doesn't tap into the magic as strongly)?

Kashmir on YouTube (from Led Zeppelin's album, Physical Graffiti) Almost 10.5 million views now.

Moroccan influence: In 1994 Kashmir was recorded for No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded  and was performed with a Moroccan ensemble. Robert Plant said of Jimmy Page and No Quarter, "His riffs were spectacular. To take it as far as we did... it's one of the most ambitious and mind altering experiences."

People have described Kashmir as "spiritual". Plant says "mind altering". I would agree - this is incredibly uplifting music - but what makes it that way?  And do you find, as I do, that when Kashmir is performed by others it doesn't carry that extra something, that magic?

10 comments:

  1. Hi Lif, as a life long fan of Jimmy's music, his ability as a guitarist, lyricist and producer is outstanding to say the least, but why does he write the way he does and why does it affect us the way it does? Is it the way the notes together cause an emotive response, or the emotion of the writer that is felt by us the listener. I think it is a combination of both plus the powerful voice that demands to be listened to. For me Kashmir is almost a hymn,a journey through the spiritual mind of Led Zeppelin, it lets us in on the writers thoughts and feelings towards a place that has touched them so very deeply, so deeply they had to tell the world. The song is a look inside the heart of the writers, i believe it touches so many people for that reason. But the music it's self is haunting,it reaches out and grabs you by the heart and soul, and it makes you want to be there,on that journey. It stirs the soul,i do believe that notes on a page look simple but, a certain combination rouses human beings into a type of euphoria, and i dont know if anyone can explain why but Kashmir has that ability.

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  2. Test test (I keep posting replies and they keep disappearing)

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    1. Looks like I got it working again (using a different browser).

      First, I wanted to say that the question of WHY Jimmy Page writes the way he does is not something we can more than speculate on, and we won't probably ever be right, since most artists themselves can't really articulate the WHY of their work. Mr. Page himself has been quoted several times as saying something to the effect that the WHY isn't important; what is important, to him, is the music itself and that's what he thinks should be focused on.
      Your next question, though, is a right on. Why does the music affect us the way it does?
      I think comparing versions of Kashmir (using the links in the post above, for example) plus using covers by other groups would be instructional. The emotion evoked by Kashmir or any great music, it seems to me, can’t simply be a matter of the notes, because if it was then every version of the same song should evoke the same emotive response.
      I understand your statement about the song being the spiritual mind of Led Zeppelin – but is it Led Zeppelin? I don’t find the 1996 version as uplifting for me, so I listened to it (the version linked to above) again and took some notes.
      Things that are similar to full Led Zeppelin versions: There is great building and releasing of tension. For instance, starting at 5:11 you’ve got the low growling of Jimmy Page’s guitar – just eight notes supported by drums and base, repeated after pauses – that go right to the guts and makes the release at 5:47 of the signature descending chords to the base melody of Kashmir all the more powerful.
      Something is going on here that Jimmy Page likes, even though I don’t think this is the best version of Kashmir. He smiles several times during this (at 6:36 and 10:26, for instance). – I think he’s having fun.
      This song never has had a lot of Jimmy Page’s guitar in it – really, you don’t get much of him till the ascending notes at 7:24 through 8:28, but it’s very restrained. You start getting some extraordinary electricity and power starting at 8:42 – again with simple but powerful musical phrases of Jimmy Page’s guitar. I believe it is his presence, h is musical contribution that makes all the difference, because when he’s not playing, it feels like the music is just waiting for him.
      The song is over at 10:52 but to me it’s over not because Plant says so, but because Jimmy Page puts down his guitar and leaves the stage. After that, it’s just music.
      All this is to say that IMO it’s not the music that is haunting, that reaches out and grabs your heart and soul, but the musician, the music mage himself. Perhaps I’m prejudiced (heck, I know I am!) but Kashmir is made by the guitar work of Jimmy Page. The journey is his journey – yes, I know it’s his and Plant’s, but I can listen to the whole song and never hear Plant’s voice as anything than another musical instrument.
      For a true comparison, though, try this URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5DeZOxq9KA which is from a Renaissance Faire performance of Kashmir with a violinist playing the lead. It’s a great performance, but it doesn’t stir my soul. (It is gratifying at the end to see the size of the crowd they drew!)
      Anyway, that’s what I think, though I’m not sure what I’ve written has even begun to address the question of why Kashmir (or any of Jimmy Page’s music) touches us so deeply.

      Thanks for a thought-provoking comment, Chrissy!

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  3. Hey Lif and thanks for telling me about this site:) I love horses too:)
    I like how you posted we will not beg Jimmy Page to join back up with Led Zeppelin on this site:) Mr. Page is so much more than Led Zeppelin.
    I enjoyed reading both of you and Chrissy's comments. Yall are deeper thinkers than me:)
    "Kashmir" is one of my favorite songs. I remember some of the words but mostly I remember the haunting melody. And the way it builds in intensity and suspense. I can smell the exotic spices and I feel the hot desert air and I want to get on back of a horse and gallop across the desert flat out. Gallop on the back of a black stallion to the tent in the oasis where the Prince awaits on silken cushions:) I know I am silly romantic but that is what Kashmir makes me feel:) I will try to be more analytic and not so fanciful. Why do I feel that way? That throbbing guitar:) Jimmy Page is the very essence of magic:)

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  4. Don't know about your computer illiteracy - you managed to comment here and that's literate enough!

    Your description of how you feel when you listen to Kashmir is an indicator of the power of the song, I think. That fancy is not outside the realm of analysis - it is actually what Chrissy was saying, the power of the music to grab the heart and soul. You just described it a little differently.

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  6. So, Wikipedia is a wealth of info! Robert Plant had this to say, Which i knew already where the song was inspired from. Robert and Jimmys interpretation of driving down some road somewhere and robert thought of the wasted lands. Hence the lyrics. The live version of this song is really good. Actually one of the best live performaces ever! Anyway here is roberts words


    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.[7]

    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

    But what about Dazed and Confused? Have you ever really listened to zep play live threw the years? I have almost every single bootleg recording available of live zep and i have listened to the song from 1`969 to 1975 at earls court where they played it for almost 40 minutes for the last time ever! 1975-95-25! And every year, ACTUALLY every show they every played, The song progressed each night For years and years and turned into the masterpiece you hear from 1975! 1975 and 73 are my favorite year for that song live. The best versions i ever heard are from 75! But the great thing about it is it was never the same! Every single night it was different and longer and more progressive! With Jimmy at the forfront taking you on a different musical journey every night! Really showing his mastery of the guitar and music! I have no idea why they dropped the song in 1977 for Achilles. They should have just played them both!!!! I WOULD LOVE to hear a 1977 version of Dazed. Man that wouldve been so cool!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks for your comments!

      Oh yeah, I've listened to D&C many, many times. It's got its own magic. Sometimes I just play one performance after the other all day long, but when I do it's not a day I get any work done because I never, ever listen to Jimmy Page's music in the background while I'm doing something else. His music rates my full attention every note, every time.

      I think once I'm done with a year's worth of posting On This Day, I'm going to spend a year writing about the evolution of individual songs. So many possibilities!

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    2. Wow thats a great idea! And yeah i am the same way! I listen to nothing but zep shows! I listen to at least 2 a day but usually more! I am currently loving 1975, its my favorite year! Before that i was stuck on 1977 lol I love being able to go to any year and listen to how much they progressed throughout the years. I love being able to hear and compare. And i love being able to just pick a show! I love how they progressed and how i can listen to it. And i like how their style, every year it changed and progressed more and more! Its crazy being able to listen to them perform a show in 1971 and then go listen to a show from 73 or 75 and see how different and more progressed it is! Man i love it!!! These shows are a time machine!! I cherish every listening experience i have with Zeps live shows!

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