No band epitomizes pop music's transition from 60s flower power to 70s hard rock like Led Zeppelin, the legendary band comprising Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham - who was born 68 years ago today. The band's name - punning on the proverbial "lead balloon" - poked fun at the notion that a group with so much talent was doomed to fail. But Led Zeppelin managed to release nine albums - four of which went diamond - over a career spanning from 1969 until 1980, when Bonham's untimely death at 32 resulted in the group disbanding.
Here are their top cannabis songs.
1. "Misty Mountain Hop"
Based on the title, you'd be forgiven if you assumed this track from the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971) was about the home of the dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937). But Robert Plant says the song is really about "being caught in the park with wrong stuff in your cigarette papers."
He added that the tune depicts the highs and lows of England's hippie culture. "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."
Which makes it one of the most funky protest songs in rock history.
2. "Going to California"
This soulful tune from "Led Zeppelin IV" begins with a different kind of pot protest. Plant sings,
"Spent my days with a woman unkind,
Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine."
Rock history hasn't figured out the identity of the woman who bogarted Plant's cannabis stash. But we do know that the other woman in the song - the idyllic hippie "with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair" - is likely Joni Mitchell. Plant allegedly added "Joni" to the song's lyrics when performing live.
3. "Over the Hills and Far Away"
Plant fell in love with more than Joni Mitchell while visiting California. In "Over the Hills and Far Away," a rollicking track from Houses of the Holy (1973), Plant sings about living for a "pocketful of gold."
But in live performances - including the set recorded for the album How the West Was Won - Plant changed the lyrics so that Led Zeppelin could pay tribute to one of California's famed marijuana strains:
"I live for my dream
And a pocketful of gold.
You can hear the revised lyrics here:
h/t Rolling Stone
banner image: Flickr / julio zeppelin