Going To California - Led Zeppelin (1971)
Led Zeppelin hit upon something they had always feigned knowledge of before in 1971 : Folk Music. It had been there in Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, and to an even stronger degree on Gallows Pole. However, with Led Zeppelin IV, they attacked it head-on with not just album tracks, but the biggest song of their career. Along with Stairway, there was the Tolkien-inspired, mandolin heavy Battle of Evermore, with guest vocals by the queen of British Folk, Sandy Denny. Then nestled right before When the Levee Breaks, was Zep's brilliant take on the Laurel Canyon folk idiom. Written as a tribute to Joni Mitchell, whom Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were both huge fans of, this song cascades down a gentle mountain stream, with soft understated instrumentation, and a gentle melody unheard of in their canon at this point. They would never hit on this simplistic beauty again, but it left a strong impression on many a music fan because it showed just how much depth these titans of rock possessed.
And listen to the king of the Ukulele just nail it!
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