'Good Times, Bad Times'
The first song from their 1969 self-titled debut shows the recently-formed band hitting the ground running. John Bonham sent drummers everywhere back to their drawing boards with his incredibly complex, but never wasteful, single kick drum playing technique. When the surviving band members reformed for their one-off 2007 London show in tribute to their former label president Amhet Ertegun, this Led Zeppelin song was the first one they played.
'Rock and Roll'
From 1971's officially untitled album, often referred to as 'Led Zeppelin IV'; or 'ZoSo.' Whatever you want to call it, it's one of the biggest selling albums in the history of recorded music -- featuring at least five songs that could easily be called "the best Led Zeppelin song ever." This straight-ahead 12-bar blues was the band's opening number of choice for much of their career, and has been covered by dozens of popular bands, including Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey and the Foo Fighters.
'All My Love'
Robert Plant reportedly recorded his vocals for this tender tribute to his recently deceased five-year-old son Karac in one take. Both Plant and bassist John Paul Jones had a much larger role in the writing of this song, as well as the rest of 1979's keyboard and piano-heavy 'In Through the Out Door' album, with guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham dealing with substance abuse issues throughout its recording. Sadly, those addictions would soon cost Bonham his life, making this the last original studio album from Led Zeppelin.
'Whole Lotta Love'
'Led Zeppelin II' was recorded during whatever free moments the band could find during their hectic tour schedule, and released just 10 months after their debut album. This Led Zeppelin song, which became the bands only Top Five U.S. single ever, features one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time, but is equally famous for it's spacey, knob-twiddling, mid-song jazz breakdown.
'Over the Hills and Far Away'
This long-time Zeppelin concert favorite comes from 1973's 'Houses of the Holy,' the first record where the band was able to catch their breath long enough to come up with a proper album title. It was also the first album comprised entirely of original Zeppelin material, as previous records all featured re-workings of traditional blues or folk songs. The band took full advantage of the extra time they had in the studio -- this layered, winding epic an excellent example of what they already accomplished, and paving the way for even bolder artistic triumphs later in their career.
Led Zeppelin surprised many fans with the largely acoustic, folksy sound of 1970's 'Led Zeppelin III,' but they sure started it off with this charging rocker. Inspired by the remarkably passionate welcome they received from college students at an impromptu concert in Iceland, 'Immigrant Song' has become the battle cry of choice for countless college and professional football teams. It is also one of the few tracks Zeppelin allowed to be used in a motion picture, Jack Black's 2003 hit 'School of Rock.'
Lead singer Robert Plant tells one of his 'Lord of the Rings'-inspired tales -- referencing Mordor, Gollum and other J.R.R. Tolkien names and places -- over jangly guitars on this track from 1969's 'Led Zeppelin II.'
Zeppelin shows off -- and dares tribute bands to keep up -- with the extremely tricky time signatures and stop-start, call and response patterns in this Led Zeppelin song from 1971's 'Led Zeppelin IV.' The track was named after a mutt who happened to be wandering around the studio, but in-heat Plant is the only dog featured in the lyrics, which are pretty much the most straight-ahead element of the entire track.
In numerous interviews, Robert Plant has stated that this graceful, otherworldly piece of music from 1975's 'Physical Graffiti' is his personal choice for the best Led Zeppelin song. Guitarist Jimmy Page spent years perfecting the song's tension-building central guitar riff, and when it was ready the band took the rare step of bringing in outside musicians (strings and horns) to add even more weight to this recounting of Plant and Page's 1973 pilgrimage to the desert.
'Stairway to Heaven'
Clearly the most famous Led Zeppelin song ever, this eight-minute long opus from 1971's 'Led Zeppelin IV' starts as a slow folk ballad, gradually building speed and adding rock instrumentation until it culminates in an up-tempo hard rock frenzy, featuring one of the most famous guitar solos of all time. Really, how can this be explained in words? Why aren't you listening to this right now?