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The 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs of All Time

The definitive guide to Zeppelin’s finest recorded moments

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page performing live onstage, playing his Gibson Les Paul guitar.

Robert Knight Archive/Getty

World-changing riffs, blues fury, power-ballad grandeur, Hobbits and so much more

This list appears in Rolling Stone’s new collectors edition, Led Zeppelin: The Ultimate Guide to Their Music & Legend.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Bowed Guitar Solo
13

‘Dazed and Confused’ (1969)

This psychedelic-blues beast became the centerpiece of their stage performances for years. Singer-songwriter Jake Holmes recorded the original version in 1967. Page reimagined it for Zeppelin's debut, and their ever-expanding live jam on his arrangement, featuring Page's epic bowed solos, often stretched out as long as 45 minutes.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Robert Plant John Bonham John Paul Jones Backstage
12

‘Communication Breakdown’ (1969)

The down-stroke riff of "Communication Breakdown" comes very close to punk seven years ahead of schedule. The lyrics allude to Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown," but if the song got its spark from the Fifties, Zep's deranged attack was something brutally new.

Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones Mandolin Three Neck Guitar
11

‘Going to California’ (1971)

Zeppelin's prettiest song: Page's gentle acoustic fingerpicking weaves together with Jones' mandolin, while Plant tries on some country twang. Rumored to be written about Joni Mitchell, it could just as easily be about any California girl "with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair." And for Led Zeppelin in 1971, there were many.

Led Zeppelin Robert Plant
10

‘Misty Mountain Hop’ (1971)

The Zeppelin canon is full of mysteries, but none greater than this: How can a song about flower people and Tolkien be so crushingly funky? Jones' humid electric piano locks in with Page's headlong riff and Bonham's slippery avalanche of a groove, as Plant evokes a fracas between cops and hippies that makes him want to escape to the fantastical peaks alluded to in the title. Plant later said the lyrics were about "being caught in the park with wrong stuff in your cigarette papers."

Led Zeppelin John Bonham Drums
9

‘Rock and Roll’ (1971)

Zeppelin were struggling to rehearse "Four Sticks" when Bonham spontaneously played the now-famous snare and open-high-hat drum intro to "Rock and Roll," which imitates the first few bars of Little Richard's 1957 hit "Keep A Knockin'." The song – initially called "It's Been a Long Time" – expresses a palpable longing for youth and the innocence of Fifties rock: Plant refers to the Stroll, an old dance, and to "The Book of Love," by the Montones, from 1958. But the music recasts rock & roll as something fierce and modern.