Tuesday, February 24, 2015

40 Year Itch : Kashmir

Jack Nicholson follows a guide in The Passenger, 1975

   The stand-out track from Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, released on this date in 1975,  "Kashmir" was inspired not by a visit to the South Asian region but by a drive Robert Plant took through North Africa.

"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."
Robert Plant to Cameron Crowe, 1975.

Musically, "Kashmir" is one of Led Zeppelin's most immediately identifiable tunes, a result of Jimmy page's interest in modal tunings and Eastern music. It is also one of the band's favorite tunes.

In a 1975 interview between William Burroughs and Jimmy Page, set up by Crawdaddy, the two talked more about the origins of "Kashmir"

WILLIAM BURROUGHS: I really, really enjoyed the concert. I think it has quite a lot, really, in common with Moroccan trance music.

 JIMMY PAGE: Yes, yes.

BURROUGHS: I wondered if you consciously were using any of that….

 PAGE: Well, yes, there is a little on that perticular track, “Kashmir”–a lead bass on that–even though none of us have been to Kashmir. It’s just that we’ve all been very involved in that sort of music. I’m very involved in ethnic music from all over the world. 

BURROUGHS:: Have you been to Morocco?

 PAGE: No. I haven’t, and it’s a very sad admission to make. I’ve only been to, you know, India and Bangkok and places like that through the Southeast.

 BURROUGHS: Well, I’ve never been east of Athens.

 PAGE: Because during the period when everybody was going through trips over to, you know, Morocco, going down, way down, making their own journeys too Istanbul, I was at art college during that period and then I eventually went straight into music. So I really missed out on all that sort of traveling. But I know musicians that have gone there and actually sat in with the Arabs and played with them.

 BURROUGHS: Yeah, well they think of music entirely in magical terms. 

PAGE: Yes.

 BURROUGHS: And their music is definitely used for magical purposes. For example, the Gnaoua music is to drive out evil spirits and Joujouka music is invoking the God Pan. Musicians there are all magicians, quite consciously

  According to Mojo Magazine, within two weeks of its release, Physical Graffiti topped the US album charts, selling at 500 copies an hour. All of the band's previous albums also sold well enough so that Led Zeppelin became the first ad ever to have six albums in the Top 200.

Need another example of long term resonance of "Kashmir"? See below.


  1. Great post man! Again, great job here! Ciao from Italy!

  2. That video of the xylophones is absolutely terrific.

  3. Post of the day, and those kids are just the cutest.