Led Zeppelin – Kashmir (Live at Knebworth 1979)
“Kashmir” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. Included on their sixth album Physical Graffiti (1975), it was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) over a period of three years with lyrics dating to 1973.
The song became a concert staple, performed by the band at almost every concert after its release. It has been described as one of Led Zeppelin’s two most overtly progressive epics (the other being Stairway to Heaven).
Composition and lyrics
Page uses a guitar tuning of D–A–D–G–A–D, which he had used for the instrumentals “White Summer” and “Black Mountain Side“. The song combines different rhythmic meters: the guitar riff is in triple meter, while the vocal is in quadruple meter. Plant felt that the drumming was an important component of the song and that Bonham did not overplay his part.
Page recorded a demo version with drummer Bonham late in 1973, when John Paul Jones was late for the recording sessions. Plant later added lyrics and a middle section; in early 1974, Jones added orchestration. Page and Plant had previously travelled to Mumbai in 1972; they worked there with various Indian musicians, gaining production ideas during the re-recordings of “Four Sticks” and “Friends“. Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections for “Kashmir” and Jones added a Mellotron.
The lyrics were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin’s 1973 US tour. Although named after Kashmir, a region of the northern Indian subcontinent, none of the group members had visited the area. Instead, Plant was inspired during a drive through a desolate desert area of southern Morocco.
“Kashmir” was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert after its debut in 1975. A version from Knebworth in 1979 appears on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003). The surviving members performed the song at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988.
Page and Plant recorded a longer, live version, with an Egyptian/Moroccan orchestra for No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded (1994) and performed the song with an orchestra on their 1995 tour.
It was performed at Led Zeppelin’s reunion show at The O2, London on 10 December 2007. That rendition – released on Celebration Day in 2012 – was nominated in 2014 for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance at the 56th Grammys.“‘Kashmir’ actually isn’t that difficult”, Page remarked during rehearsals for the show. “But it helps to have a drummer [Bonham] who understands the part and a bass player who can play bass with his feet. Sometimes it sounds like John’s [Jones] got three feet. It’s intense.”