Jimmy Page Tells the Story of “Kashmir”

One of the most original and distinctive songs Led Zeppelin ever recorded was the exotic, eight-and-a-half minute “Kashmir,” from the 1975 album Physical Graffiti. In this clip from Davis Guggenheim’s film It Might Get Loud (2009), Jimmy Page explains the origins of the song to fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge. Then Page demonstrates it by picking up an old modified Danelectro 59DC Double Cutaway Standard guitar that he played the song with on some of Led Zeppelin’s tours. (Watch Kashmir live here.)

In 1973, Page had been experimenting with an alternative D modal, or DADGAD, tuning often used on stringed instruments in the Middle East, when he hit upon the hypnotic, rising and falling riff. The song came together over a period of a couple of years. John Bonham added his distinctive, overpowering drums during a two-man recording session with Page at Headley Grange. Singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics while he and Page were driving through the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco. (Neither Page nor Plant had ever visited Kashmir, in the Himalayas.) Bassist and keyboard player John Paul Jones added the string and horn arrangements the following year. In a 1995 radio interview with Australian journalist Richard Kingsmill, Plant recalled his experience with “Kashmir”:

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, because I couldn’t sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me.

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Comments (16)
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  • David says:

    love the fanboy geek-out on white’s face

  • Juliann White says:

    When Page reworked his epic Kashmir into a song called Come With Me with Puff Daddy, listeners were newly enthralled with the song.

    I wrote two biographies about Jimmy Page, the world’s greatest guitar player.

  • Bob says:

    Why did you write two biographies? Were they each from different periods of his life? Just curious.

  • Eddie Lee says:

    Jack & Edge do a good job of keeping cool speaking with Pagey. I’d be crying when he started doodling on that Rick!

  • pooky says:


  • pooky says:


  • mieiri says:

    As I said to a friend, this is a great record, but it is clear by the middle of the session: they are two giants… and one at the ‘edge’

  • Boleslaw Bierut says:

    is this music at all? same sounds I hear every time a trash collector comes around.

    • Anonymoose says:

      1) Yes it is music. Critically acclaimed and shiz. By people far smarter and more relevant than you.n2) You’re completely tone-deaf. Good luck with that.

  • Roger Landes says:

    “…or DADGAD, tuning often used on stringed instruments in the Middle East…” Ummm…. No, it wasn’t. If the author had actually read the Wikipedia article he linked here he would have known that the tuning was created by English guitarist Davey Graham – taking inspiration from having heard a Moroccan oud player, and that it was used by many folk guitarists including Bert Jansch, from whom Mr. Page ‘derived’ a lot of inspiration. But no, it was not ‘often used on stringed instruments of the Middle East.’

  • Matt Janovic says:

    Yes, and Page & his lawyers ruined Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lt. by having it removed from all subsequent versions, all for dollars. Considering what a musical thief Page is, it’s pretty hypocritical.

  • Pulakit Singh says:

    Someone please help explain why the name “Kashmir” was chosen??? I can’t find anything online to explain this…

  • Matt says:

    They had recently travelled there.

  • Mick says:

    In my younger years, I worked as a steam locomotive fireman on a tourist railroad. The engineers were retired from ‘real’ railroads, and they would say that the rythmic chugging of the engine made them think of the big band tunes of their youth. For me, it was always “Kashmir”!

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