Song Stories

“Immigrant Song”

Led Zeppelin | 1970

Beginning with the barreling declaration "We come from the land of Ice and snow, " Robert Plant and Jimmy Page wrote this song in 1970 when they were in Reykjavik at the invitation of the Icelandic government. Plant explained that a blue-collar strike threatened to cancel the gig. "So the university… prepared the concert hall …for us to play and it was most phenomenal... " Six days later, Led Zeppelin debuted the song at a festival in Bath, UK. Of the lyric, Plant said, "We went to Iceland, and it made you think of Vikings and big ships and John Bonham's stomach and, bang, there it was — 'Immigrant Song.'" A noted tidbit: "hammer of the gods" is from this lyric.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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