Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Kashmir (song)

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Swan Song

24 February 1975 (1975-02-24)

Headley Grange, Headley, England, 1974 Olympic Studios, London, 1974

Hard rock, progressive rock

John Bonham Jimmy Page Robert Plant

"Kashmir" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their sixth album Physical Graffiti, released in 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. The song has been described as one of Led Zeppelin's two most overtly progressive epics.


Page and Plant released a longer, live version, recorded with an Egyptian/Moroccan orchestra, on No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded (1994) and continued to perform the song with an orchestra on their 1995 tour.


The song is more than 8 minutes long.


The song is almost entirely built upon an ascending chromatic ostinato over a pedal drone that Page had first recorded in his home studio, using the same guitar tuning (DADGAD) as he used for "Black Mountain Side", "White Summer" and the unreleased "Swan-song". Page explained, "I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and Arabic stuff. It started off with a riff and then employed Eastern lines underneath."

Page recorded a demo version with drummer John Bonham late in 1973 when John Paul Jones was late for the recording sessions. Plant later added lyrics and a middle section and, in early 1974, Jones added orchestration.

The song's time signature combines duple and triple meter; the drums and vocal melody is in bars of 4
+ 2
while the guitar riff is played in cycles of 3

Bonham's drums were recorded through an Eventide Instant Phaser PS-101 supplied by engineer Ron Nevison. Plant stated that Bonham's drumming is the key to the song: "It was what he didn't do that made it work".

Page and Plant had previously travelled to Bombay in 1972 and worked with various Indian musicians, gaining production ideas from recording sessions of "Four Sticks" and "Friends". Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections for "Kashmir", but Jones also used a Mellotron: he commented; "the secret of successful keyboard string parts is to play only the parts that a real string section would play. That is, one line for the First Violins, one line for Second Violins, one for Violas, one for Cellos, one for Basses. Some divided parts [two or more notes to a line] are allowed, but keep them to a minimum. Think melodically".


The lyrics were written by Robert Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin's 1973 US Tour, in an area he called "the waste lands" of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert. This was despite the fact that the song is named after Kashmir, a region under the Indian and Pakistani occupancy. As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:

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.

Plant also commented on the challenges he faced in writing lyrics for such a complex piece of music:

It was an amazing piece of music to write to, and an incredible challenge for me. … Because of the time signature, the whole deal of the song is … not grandiose, but powerful: it required some kind of epithet, or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments. But everything is not what you see. It was quite a task, 'cause I couldn't sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me. It's true: I was petrified, it's true. It was painful; I was virtually in tears.

In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, Page mentioned that at the time the song was composed, none of the band members had ever been to Kashmir.

Driving Through Kashmir

A rough mix of the track was titled "Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rough Orchestra Mix)". This version is virtually identical to the original except for a few mixing differences. "Driving Through Kashmir" was released on 23 February 2015, as part of the remastering process of all nine albums.

Live performances

"Kashmir" was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its debut in 1975. One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD. This performance came from the band's first show at the venue on 4 August. The surviving members also performed the song at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988. It was again performed at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the The O2, London on 10 December 2007 and later released on Celebration Day. That concert's rendition of the song, due to its appearance in the film, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance at the 56th Grammys.

When the band performed the song live, Robert Plant would switch the last verse ("Oh father of the four winds, fill my sails...") with the original second verse ("With talk and song from tongues of lilting grace...") after singing the first verse normally. Plant, known generally for improvisation while performing live, would ad lib during live performances of "Kashmir". He would add in "sweet mama", "slowly dyin'", "now just a minute", "sweet darlin'", and he would stutter the words "baby" and "mama". He would also end that section with "there's no denyin'" and "When I'm talkin' to ya!"

Page and Plant recorded another live version of "Kashmir" in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. For this arrangement, they added an orchestra and Egyptian musicians.


All four members of Led Zeppelin have agreed that "Kashmir" is one of their best musical achievements. John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound. Plant has stated that "Kashmir" is the "definitive Led Zeppelin song", and that it "was one of my favourite [Led] Zeppelin tracks because it possessed all the latent energy and power that wasn't heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin." During a television interview in January 2008, he also named "Kashmir" as his first choice of all Led Zeppelin songs that he would perform, commenting "I'm most proud of that one". Page has indicated he thinks that the song is one of the band's best compositions.

"If you listen to 'Kashmir' very loud, it's just unbelievable," enthused Swans front man Michael Gira. "Jimmy Page's guitar is lyrical and soulful – just beautiful. I don't understand what Robert Plant is saying, though I suppose that's a good thing. I don't know the lyrics. I think they're about hobbits or something."

Led Zeppelin archivist Dave Lewis describes "Kashmir" as follows:

Unquestionably the most startling and impressive track on Physical Graffiti, and arguably the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded. 'Kashmir' went a long way towards establishing their credibility with otherwise skeptical rock critics. Many would regard this track as the finest example of the sheer majesty of Zeppelin's special chemistry.

The song is listed highly in a number of professional music rankings:

(*) designates unordered lists.

Single (digital download)

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Samples and copies

The 1988 Schoolly D song "Signifying Rapper", which samples "Kashmir", was the target of lawsuits following its use in the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant. In 1994, Page and Plant successfully sued Home Box Office to have the song removed from televised showings of the film and Live Home Video and distributor Aries Film Releasing were ordered to destroy any unsold copies of Bad Lieutenant as part of a copyright infringement ruling.

The tune was subsequently sampled with permission by Sean "Puffy" Combs (AKA Puff Daddy) in "Come With Me" from the soundtrack to the movie Godzilla (1998). Page, who endorsed Combs' adaptation, appears in the video and also played it with him on Saturday Night Live. An instrumental version of "Kashmir" is featured in the final trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).

Movies and film

In Fast Times at Ridgemont HIgh, geeky Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) plays "Kashmir" in the car while taking Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) out on a date. The scene follows an earlier scene where Mark's more "sophisticated" friend Mike Damone advises him that "When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV." Although the script called for Ratner to actually play Led Zeppelin IV on the stereo during the car scene, Led Zeppelin refused to allow the film to use any song from the album, so the filmmakers used "Kashmir"—from Physical Graffiti—instead.


Kashmir (song) Wikipedia

Similar Topics