Saturday Morning Music Video: The Battle of Evermore
When I was in high school, the great British rock band Led Zeppelin released their fourth album. Many of us of a certain age considered Led Zeppelin to be the best band ever. (With apologies to The Beatles.) Many of their songs would be featured on a soundtrack of my teenage years.
Despite their later reputation as a forerunner of the heavy metal genre and serious hard rockers, Led Zeppelin was also heavily into acoustic/folk and Celtic music and some of their best tracks are characterized as folk-rock.
The Battle of Evermore, one of those folk-rock songs, was a track on Led Zeppelin 4. The music was written by Jimmy Page, the band's prodigiously talented lead guitarist, while he was messing around with a mandolin he borrowed from the band's bassist, John Paul Jones. Singer Robert Plant made up some lyrics to go with it. They wrote the song in one sitting, and they recorded it as a duet sung by Plant and Sandy Denny (an English vocalist with a major drug problem who died in 1978).
We didn't hear much from Led Zeppelin after they broke up in the late 1970's but in 2007, Robert Plant released an album with Alison Krauss, who came to fame with the Nashville bluegrass group Union Station. Krauss is a singer and fiddler. This was an unusual pairing, but they won a Grammy award (album of the year) for their album "Raising Sand." The two went on tour to support the album in 2007 and 2008. Not only did they sing songs from their new album, but they re-imagined a number of old Zeppelin songs. This clip is from a show they did in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008.
It's a live video with all the downsides of a live video shot with someone's hand-held camera, but it captures the song nicely, I think, with the Celtic percussion and the still strong voice of Plant (I would have figured he'd blown out his vocal chords by 1980) and Krauss, while not Sandy Denny, does a nice job with her part. I'm a big fan of Krauss, too. The only thing missing from this recording is the use of the hurdy-gurdy, which is featured on some earlier Page/Plant recordings from the 90's.
Finally, if you remember much about Led Zeppelin, you know that they kind of had a thing for Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. There seem to be a couple of allusions to LOTR in this song, including a note that "the ringwraiths ride in black." Ah, the 1970's. But whatever. Enjoy.