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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.

Jimmy Page Led Zeppelin Live Performance Guitar
22

‘Heartbreaker’ (1969)

Page's solo was a heavy-metal textbook full of pyrotechnics that, per legend, inspired a young Eddie Van Halen to reimagine the possible. A takedown of "Annie," a two-timer who leaves the singer "alone and blue," it became a live staple during which Page would slip Bach's "Bourrée in E minor" and other quotes into the jam.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Robert Plant John Bonham John Paul Jones
21

‘Dancing Days’ (1973)

After recording this at Mick Jagger's country home Stargroves in England, the bandmates were so excited they went out on the lawn and danced to it. The music – most strikingly, the searing slide-guitar line – was inspired by Page and Plant's trip to Bombay. The lyrics are an almost Beach Boys-like vision of Edenic summer ease.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Robert Plant Live Performance
20

‘D’yer Mak’er’ (1973)

Not "Dire Maker," as it's generally known, but a rough phonetic riff on "Jamaica," this began with the notion of playing reggae music, a new phenomenon in 1972. What emerged was a sort of rock-steady heavy-metal doo-wop jam; Plant's giddy vocals turn a string of stuttered vowel sounds into one of the band's catchiest pop songs.

Led Zeppelin Robert Plant John Paul Jones Mandolin Live Performance
19

‘Gallows Pole’ (1970)

The oldest song in Zeppelin's repertoire, "Gallows Pole" first appeared several centuries ago as the folk song "The Maid Freed From the Gallows." Page and Plant added the frantically escalating arrangement (on which Page makes his banjo-playing debut, with Jones joining in on mandolin) and the horror-show ending.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Robert Plant John Bonham John Paul Jones
18

‘The Song Remains the Same’ (1973)

Written shortly after Page and Plant's 1972 expedition to Bombay, this raga-tinged track was originally intended as an instrumental. It's Zep at their sunniest, celebrating music's universality just as they had become arguably the biggest band in the world.

Led Zeppelin Robert Plant Sandy Denny
17

‘The Battle of Evermore’ (1971)

One of the most arresting displays of their love of folk music – Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention is featured, with Page on mandolin (which he'd never played before). It's also their fullest evocation of The Lord of the Rings, with allusions to wraiths and mountainside warfare.

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page Robert Plant John Bonham John Paul Jones
16

‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ (1973)

Amazingly, this uncharacteristically poppy boogie-rock sugar shot was Zeppelin's first single that didn't make the Top 50. Plant sings a pure-hearted come-on over Page's open-road strumming, then the band kicks in for three minutes of fleet, booming choogle.

Led Zeppelin Robert Plant
15

‘What Is and What Should Never Be’ (1969)

One of Plant's earliest songwriting attempts is allegedly about an affair with his wife's younger sister. Its woozy production and bulldozer gearshifts from tender, pastoral verse to demon-steed chorus make for music strung between lover's plea and torrid fantasy.

Led Zeppelin Robert Plant Live Performance
14

‘The Ocean’ (1973)

Dedicated to their sea of fans, "The Ocean" drops a knotty, funky beat that air drummers have been screwing up for decades. It's also a showcase for Bonham the vocalist; he and Jones make a rare appearance on backing vocals for the outro, and when he counts the band in at the opening, he sounds like a cross between a pirate and a rapper.

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 g