1975 – Led Zeppelin play “Kashmir” live for the first time during a gig at the Ahoy in Rotterdam.
“Kashmir” is considered to be one of Led Zeppelin’s most successful songs, and all four band members agreed that this was one of their best musical achievements. John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound, while Robert Plant cites it as his favorite Led Zeppelin song overall. Reportedly, this is partly due to Plant’s annoyance at having to explain the lyrics of “Stairway to Heaven”. In an interview he gave to Rolling Stone magazine in 1988, Plant stated that Kashmir was “the definitive Led Zeppelin song.” He also said in an audio documentary that he loved this song not only because of its intensity but also because it was so intense without being considered “heavy metal”.
Robert Plant wrote the lyrics in 1973 while driving through the Sahara Desert in Morocco, despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region in the northernmost part of the Indian subcontinent. The original title was “Driving To Kashmir.”
The song is centered around a signature chord progression guitar riff, which originally began as a tuning cycle which guitarist Jimmy Page had been using for years. It is played in an alternative guitar tuning: the strings are tuned to ‘Open Dsus4’ or DADGAD. The body of the song also has a different beat between the guitars and the drums. The drums play the standard 4/4 time signature with a double stroke on the bass drum, while the guitars create tension by playing against it in [implied] 3/4 time. Drummer John Bonham has been cited as the source for the main 3/4 riff and has an official credit as co-songwriter. Bonham’s drums feature a phasing effect courtesy of an early Eventide phaser supplied by engineer Ron Nevison. Plant has stated that Bonham’s drumming is the key to the song: “It was what he didn’t do that made it work.”