The Led Zeppelin song about “Big Brother”

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As architects of heavy metal, Led Zeppelin stands as innovators and exceptional musicians, but the adjective “political” may not immediately spring to mind when considering their musical realm. Rooted in esoteric and expansive rock, with lyrics woven with mythologies and fiction, Led Zeppelin often seemed distanced from the realm of earthly politics.

Immersed in the counterculture, the British quartet’s repertoire encompassed pilgrimages to California, inspired by folk heroine Joni Mitchell, and explored J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Battle of Evermore. Led Zeppelin’s work exuded a distinctly fantastical, dream-like quality, with frontman Robert Plant crafting moments that shimmered with metaphysical allure.

Plant’s association with fantasy extends to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, referenced on four occasions within Led Zeppelin’s oeuvre. The late author’s mythos profoundly influenced the band’s mystical sound, providing a fitting backdrop for their elemental majesty and stripped-back folk melodies.

However, beneath the veneer of fantasy, Led Zeppelin could be political when the occasion demanded. Robert Plant revealed that ‘Misty Mountain Hop,’ a track from their 1971 masterpiece “Led Zeppelin IV,” delves into reality despite its titular nod to Tolkien’s mountain range. The inspiration for the song, according to Plant, stemmed from a countercultural love-in near London that was disrupted by the police, prompting him to pen the lyrics.

In Plant’s reflection on the era and cultural backdrop, he emphasized that the disruption of the love-in made him realize the ever-present specter of Big Brother – a symbol of authoritarian oppression akin to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” Despite the seemingly hippie and paranoid undertones, Plant’s assertion resonates with the inherent conflict between the counterculture and the prevailing powers.

He explained, “It’s about a bunch of hippies getting busted, about the problems you can come across when you have a simple walk in the park on a nice sunny afternoon. In England, it’s understandable because wherever you go to enjoy yourself, ‘Big Brother’ is not far behind.”

While the title may evoke a fantastical aura, the lyrics, coupled with the band’s raw and vibrant musical performance, convey a spirit of rebellion and a yearning for freedom from societal constraints. ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ stands as a testament to Led Zeppelin’s prowess in infusing depth and meaning into their music, even when drawing inspiration from seemingly fantastical sources.

Immerse yourself in the rebellious spirit of ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ below.

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