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Ramble On

by

Led Zeppelin



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Robert Plant's lyrics were inspired by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of The Rings. The references are to the adventures of the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, as he goes to "the darkest depths of Mordor" and encounters "Gollum and the evil one." Plant later admitted in an audio documentary that he was embarrassed by the Tolkien references. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
Led Zeppelin never performed this live.
Zeppelin recorded this in New York when they were on their first US tour.
The group Train covered this. Their lead singer was once in a band that did entire sets of Zeppelin songs. Producer Brendan O'Brien heard Train's version and agreed to produce their second album.
Often mistaken for bongos, Bonzo is actually hitting a plastic garbage pail throughout the song. (thanks, jim - bethlehem, PA)
This was sampled by the Insane Clown Posse for the song "50 Bucks" on their rare album Psychopathics From Outer Space and was also the single that accompanied The Pendulum #7, a 12-comic series of the group done by Chaos! Comics. (thanks, Bustakap - Lowell, MA)
Led Zeppelin
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Comments (82):

Loving Jonesy's bass line! He's superb really!!
- pjyenn, indonesia, Indonesia
Joe from Charlotte, you are right. John was not tapping on a plastic can, it was a nearby sofa at the time of recording in headley grange. You can hear it is a softer tapping than would be on a plastic can or pail.
- lisa, East Tn. , TN
While somewhat familiar with the stories I never have been able to actually read any Tolkien because I always thought rambled on (I figured he was paid by the word). So, I figured that was the connection between the song and the stories. I like the song because it is wonderful to listen to. And how come that fantastic John Paul Jones bass line never gets any praise?
- Marty, MOFallon, MO
Quite surprised to know that plant was ashame of the LOTR references, after all they are not only in this song but in Misty Mountain hop, battle of evermore, and possibly stairway to heaven ("when I look to the west")
- alex, new jersey, NJ
This is my theme song! I agree with Bob - Led Zeppelin could cure cancer, but they just don't want to.
- Grayson, New Orleans, LA
I grew up with this song, came out when I was in 8th grade and I STILL love it. I just bought Plant's new one, very cool disc. He only uses the best possible musicians available on all of his solo's. I actually have all of his solo discs and each song has a little Zep in them. He is still rockin'! Catch his concert on Palladium!
- Brog, Jacksonville, FL
This song combines my two things in life, Lord of the Rings, and Led Zeppelin.
- Dusty, St. Louis, MO
To me this is a profoundly spiritual song. Personal love affairs and tragic losses, like the death of a young son, become journeys in the time of mythic past and the dreamspace of legend. This motif is common for Led Zep songs. In this song, a search for a lost love (real or figurative) is paralled with a journey through the mythic spacetime of the Rings universe.
- jeff, Chicago, IL
I have my own theory about how this song related to "The Lord of the Rings" later on. However, I do have a few comments regarding Tom's interpretation from, Dunmore, PA. Here is part of his posting.----------------
"The "girl" in the song may very well just stand for peace. That's all Frodo reall wants. He's been in Hobbiton for like 10 years and he still feels like this...he needs to get out. Doesn't have time to spread his roots (start a family), he's gotta get movin. He's been to so many parties and get-togethers that were in his name (He did, you know, save the world), so he's had his health drank to a few thousand times. Frodo would rather not talk about his tale because its about a time when he was slave to the ring, (I.E. not free)."--------------------------
Froda did not stay in the Shire for ten years after the Ring was destroyed in Mount Doom. He stayed two years. The ring was destroyed on March 25, 3019. September 29, 3021 Froda sets sail to the Grey Havens. The four hobbits, after Gandalf leaves them on October 30 3019 to go pay a visit to Tom Bombadil, only gets into the Shire at the first of November. Frodo didn't even stay in the Shire for two years, let alone ten.--------------------------------------
Also, if you reread the ending of "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien explicitly states that the Shire gave Frodo little honour for his efforts in the destruction of the Ring and that it pains Samwise. Tolkien was alluding to the New Testament which says a prophet holds so little honour in his own country. Tolkien goes into detail regarding the little respect Frodo is paid in his letters as well. Actually, the history of the Ring is little known in the Shire, and Frodo pays a very passive role in the Battle of Bywater, only assisting that no hobbits are slain. The other three hobbits are much more famous and much more highly considered than Frodo due to their actions in the Sourging of the Shire. No one had parties in his name, and the hobbits of the shire didn't drink to him at all, let alone thousands of times-----------------------------------
Sorry, your interpretation is based on a careless reading of the source text that simply does not hold up when you really examine "The Lord of the Rings".
- berenlazarus, Oxford, United Kingdom
Actually Led Zep performed this song at the London 07 show that i wish I went to but... Led Zep thinks of everything a garbage can!!!
- Chase, Miami, FL
Sorry to pi55 on the fireworks of those who claim Ramble On has never been performed live! Mssrs Page /Plant backed by the now late Michael Lee and others produded a fabulous rendition live at Irvine Meadows Calif on the 3Rd Oct 1995at about 8.40pm! So there! All 5mins 13 fabulous seconds of it.
- Max, Guernsey, United Kingdom
It is only of minor note, but Bonham's tapping throughout this piece has always stood out to me, and it is interesting and rather clever that he improvised on the plastic barrel.
It adds a rare subdued touch to the rest of his well known percussion style.
Also, Plant should not be embarrassed about the LotR references he inserted, as those have long made this excellent bit of mandolin-driven music all the better.
My little girl loves that part, too.
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
this song was used for a toothbrush commercial, twice
- uraf, pomadour, American Samoa
Ha! I heard Bonham was just patting his knee! The legend lives on...
- Michael De Lazzer, Studio City, CA
i love led-zepplin.I think jimmy page is awsom
- nick, nampa, Albania
When its a warm sunny day and your in your car with the windows down, and your shades on, play this song very loud! its a great summer song.
- Luke Taylor, Manchester, United Kingdom
Led Zeppelin never played this live until their Reunion concert on December 10th, 2007.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
Ramble On is awesome!!! I love Led Zeppelin so much I filled a love letter i wrote to my girlfreind with Led Zeppelin references. I found the queen of all my dreams!
- zachbon, okemos, MI
jimmy and johns guitars with plants genius lyrics and bonhams legendary drums make this, in my opinion, zeppelins greatest song
- JAMBI, t-town, MI
Although I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and I enjoy interpreting Zep songs according to LOTR, I have to say that I think this song can best be compared to a different epic: the Odyssey. Odysseus took ten years to return home to the queen of all his dreams. The very first line could be read as Odysseus leaving Calypso's island (which was definitely pleasant). Odysseus is the Wanderer--the Rambler.
- Kristina, Albuquerque, NM
Kevin from springfield- Delco or montco?
This song rules
- Kellen, Springfield, PA
Zeppelin recently performed this live at the recent tribute gig in London. Shame i was not lucky enough to get a ticket. Great great song and certainly a classic Zep song.
- Gareth, Lincoln, England
Best song out there with Tolkien in mind.
- J,R., Swansea, Wales
Led Zeppelin did play parts of this song live a few times in the 70s but only in parts. On December 10th 2007 they played the entire song. This song was also played with Page and Plant in the 90s and maybe with Page and the Black Crowes also(someone could correct me on the latter)
- NickZepp, Oklahoma City, OK
Hi all. Joel from SC here. I am currently in the grand country of Denmark. (I have a Danish background). Good song and yet another Tolkien reference.
- Joel, Columbia, SC
Although I am a huge Tolkien fan and I love the LOTR references in Zeppelin, I actually think the references in this song are irrelevant. My theory is that this song resembles the Odyssey. Odysseus had to wander and ramble for 10 years after the Trojan War, always trying to get back to his queen Penelope. The first verse can be read as Odysseus leaving the comfort of Calypso's island.
- Kristina, Albuquerque, NM
It is obvious that this is based on lotr. Im sure many power metal and folk metal bands were inspired to do as LZ did.
- Rocco, Toronto
Just to let everyone know, here's my take:

"Ramble On" is a direct reference to Frodo Baggins AFTER his adventures in Mordor and such. As some of you Tolkienfreaks will remember, Frodo's stab wound was hurting him even after all his adventures. It was also in the fall that he decided to leave. (Leaves have fallen all around, it's time I was on my way) Says thanks to his friends for giving him a good time, then says its time for him to go as the autumn moon lights his way. He smells the rain, and with it pain (his wound/his internal spiritual scarring thanks to the Ring), and it's heading his way. He grows tired, so he knows what he's got to do. Ramble on, etc. The "girl" in the song may very well just stand for peace. That's all Frodo reall wants. He's been in Hobbiton for like 10 years and he still feels like this...he needs to get out. Doesn't have time to spread his roots (start a family), he's gotta get movin. He's been to so many parties and get-togethers that were in his name (He did, you know, save the world), so he's had his health drank to a few thousand times. Frodo would rather not talk about his tale because its about a time when he was slave to the ring, (I.E. not free). Years ago, in days of old...plenty of magic in the air. Deep in Mordor, he met a girl so fair (The Ring was pretty appetizing the closer he got to that mountain.) Gollum stole the ring and "slipped" away with her (he slipped off the lovely cliff and fell to his death with the Ring).

That's just how I interpreted it.
- Tom, Dunmore, PA
I just love this song. I read Hammer of the Gods and they mentioned that John Bonham tapped on a sofa to get that patter sound. I never heard about a garbage pail.
- Joe, Charlotte/NY Transplant, NC
my opinion is that all these songs were created with the band.. Lots of ideas and things were sayed in the past but what it comes down to is old school bro what happened in the past man we all faught.. come one my lady sayas lol
im living life on this earth and it will be sad when i leave bease i love it so much ...I have not seen everything in the world yet but i still carry on like i like going to work every day man
- Joseph, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
this song really has a very strong bass line.
- mark, worcester, MI
great tune bonham is awsome
- Bill, Topeka, KS
Bob from Levittown, PA has hot the nail through the head. Yes, only Zeppelin could do that. They
probably could have played a porcelain toilet seat and made it work, for all I know! I think we found the cure for AIDs...listen to Led Zeppelin!
Oh...and I can't tell if this song IS about the Lord of the Rings...or just involves it. Probably just involves it.
- Bryan, Super Zero, SC
This song is so happy. The lyrics are uplifting and its just a cheerful song. Now a days you hear all this emo crap goin "F*** the world i hate everyone" And a bunch of "I'm a hustala" from rap artists- what ever happened to "For Now I Smell The Rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way"
- Joe, Palos Heights, IL
Murshid Colombo, isn't Misty Mountain Hop about meeting and spontaneously taking along with a bunch of pot-smoking hippies?
- Daan, Tegelen, Netherlands
I also love the doors they make me happy and crap, my fav song is The Unknown Soldier
- Steve, Winnipeg, Canada
buddy this song is amazin Ramble On was my fav song for a while when i got my first album, LEd Zeppelin II. After all these years i now have 71 led zeppelin songs and i need to get 11 more to have every song recorded on cd, or what i saw on led-zeppelin.com
- Steve, Winnipeg, Canada
First of all this song is not about "lord of the rings", the entire Led Zeppelin II album in my opinion is about a love story. This song is refering to the man that got his heart broken and is "rambling on" which means to go and sleep around with a bunch of chicks, and this is how he gets over his love that left him. "Ramble" in singer lyric lingo means to go and sleep around with a bunch of chicks. Other songs that use this are "Rambling Man" by the Allman Brothers
- Bryan, North Tonawanda, NY
For all you fellow LOTR lovers out there, dont't forget about The Battle of Evermore. That is the most obvious reference to Tolkien.
- Thomas, Staten Island, NY
This song is about Plants childhood fantasies of being an adventurer in the LOTR world. First of all no one ever says the phrase "Ramble On" in either The Hobbit or LOTR. Obviously it's something Plant made up. Second, for all you who think the One ring is "the girl" "the girl" is referenced several times earlier in the song - "Im goin' round the world, I gotta find my girl" and - "I gotta find the queen of all my dreams" In my view the song is sung from the point of a seasoned adventurer - "Ive been this way ten years to the day" - who is saying goodbye to his drinking buddies in a tavern (probably The Prancing Pony) to continue his life-long quest of finding the girl he met and fell in love with in "the darkest depths of Mordor" because, though he tried to stop them, "Gollem, and the evil one, crept up and slipped away with her" (kiddnapped). The phrase "Ramble On" simply alludes to the wandering lifestyle of a mideval times adventurer.
- Fah-Q, Fah-Q, AL
I agree with you, mark. Robert Plant was just barely getting out there, experimenting with song writing. Besides, it is very probable that LOTR also inspired him to write the classic Stairway to Heaven. I love this song, especially towards the end when Robert is kind of talking to himself- it's funny and sweet.
- Pat, Flagstaff, AZ
The fact that this was never played live is false. I have it on multiple boots. For example, it was part of the Communication Breakdown in Vancouver on 3/21/70 and the How Many More Times Medley in Memphis on 4/17/1970.
- Bo, Boulder, CO
jared from NJ-don't be so hard on yourself. You're not a loser. I'm long since past the age, but my friends and I loved LOTR. I don't think Plant should be ashamed of the lyrics. He was young and those are great stories. I think most real good song writers are able to use anything and everything in their lives as material. This is a good song that plays well many years after.
- mark, worcester, MI
"The Evil One" has to be either Sauron (the evil wizard...Gandalf's enemy) or The Dark Lord.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
add 'Misty Mountain Hop' too for some of Led's references to LOTR.
- Murshid, Colombo
Im confused, who is the evil one? "But Gollum, and the evil one" is he still refering to Gollum or something else? sorry if that is a dumb question but somebody help me!
- Trisha, OKC, OK
Not in my top 10 Led songs, but still cool. I would've never guessed it referred to Tolkien's books. Who cares anyway?
- Mitchell, Redding, CA
Very laid back, cool song. In my top 3 Led songs.
- Deo, Annandale, VA
Just to start, I want to say im the ultimate loser and know way to much about the Lord of the Rings series. This song, I believe, is more about The Hobbit, a "prologue" to the actual series rather than "The Fellowship of the Ring". Reasons being: the ring isn't found in Mordor by Frodo at all. Gollum is the one who actually finds it. Frodo gets the ring back in the shire from Bilbo (whos journey the song is actually about. The same love/hate paradox puzzles Bilbo in the same way, so that evidence is out. And also the matter of setting out in the autumn, thats when Bilbo and the dwarves left too. Final thought: dont anylize a songs book refference unless you have read the whole series...4 times...I told you I was a loser
- jared, westmont, NJ
Ramble on is one of my favorite songs of all time. It's just a cool song.
- W, Burlington, WA
Who cares about the LOTR's... this is a great song one of their best!
- Matt, Brandon, Canada
Oh, and about all the references to "ten years" in their songs... well, in this sog, I believe he is half-referring to the girlfriend he gave the boot to ten years before, which is the whole basis of Ten Years Gone. In Heartbreaker, he is talking about she stole the best years of his lfe from him or something... basically they are all references to the gf I believe.
- Travis, Rocky Mount, NC
Holy crap, I KNEW I heard "darkest depths of Mordor" and "Gollum and the evil one". I love Led Zeppelin, they've dedicated two songs to the great Tolkien (this and Over The Hills and Far Away).
- Travis, Rocky Mount, NC
teh opening lines have been my resignation letter for the last 10 years
- abhishek, New Delhi, India
Stefanie magura.. it is deffinitly a figment of your imagination... zep never played this live.
the acoustic set on HTWWW is :goin to california,thats the way, and bron-yr-aur stomp
- adfaldf, happy vill, OR
Damn good song, theres nothing else to say
- Zola, Dublin, OH
great comment Bob! That's pretty funny! Yeah, the guys in Led Zeppelin were gods.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
If I remember correctly, the song is on "The How The west Was Woj" dvd. Or is that a figment of my imagination.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
i have all led zeppelin releases, i got into em last summer, ive never been so into a band like i have led zeppelin. each song reminds me of a time that me and my best buddy, (who loves zeppelin also) spend doing something crazy, or just driving around, these songs, unlike other songs, NEVER get old, i love em to death
- nick, baton rouge, LA
LOTR is epic. So is LZ. Even if you completly ignore all the LOTR references the song still resonates in your soul. The lyrics...they don't make em' like Led Zepplein anymore. I mean come on, the lyrics, about change, moving on, and doing the things you need to do. And it is so damn appropriate if you're leaving for college. Sigh...to my great sadness and dismay, there are very of my (the X +1) generation that actually listen to LZ. Sigh. But LZ. Timeless. I love this song, everytime I hear it I get really happy, and I feel like going exploring, getting out, doing something new. Wonderful wonderful wonderful
- Adeeb, Dhaka, Other
oh yea...and a LOT of Physical Graffiti....wow.
- Rocky, Kennesaw, GA
Whoever told you that Ramble On is the only song the zep never played live is a dumbass, I hope he wasn't a real DJ. Try half the album Coda and a lot of In Through the Out Door.
- Rocky, Kennesaw, GA
this song is def. referring to LOTR, which is a double bonus. i think this song wasn't ever done live, because of the different parts- bonzo on the garbage can etc which made it nearly impossible to re-create in a live setting... this is why there are many songs of LZ that were very rare to hear live, as John Paul Jones would often play bass and keyboards on the same song.... that creates a predicament.... (cuz no one can replace any member of LED ZEPPELIN!!!)
- jon, columbus, OH
I LOVE this song. Quite possibly my favorite Led Zeppelin song. I love how its so confident. It makes me happy. :)
- maddie, Knoxville, TN
haha, love the comment bob!!!!!
- Will, Mobile, AL
Led Zeppelin may not have played it live, but I have a recording from a tour in the 90's of Page and Plant preforming Ramble On.
- Jim, muskegon, MI
This song has remained the one containing my favorite bass lines since I first heard it in 1970 until today.
- Ron, Curitiba, Brazil
Songs by Zeppelin I'm sure are about Lord of The Rings and/or The Hobbit:

Ramble On
Th Battle of Evermore
Over the Hills and Far away
No Quarter
- Bob, Mt. Laurel, NJ
I think Page knew Lord of the rings well enough, so there?s no need fro far fetched interpretations. Here?s my interpretation of "Ramble on":

This song is sung as Frodo prepares to leave Middle-Earth and go to Valinor with the Elves.
"Leaves are falling all around...And now it's time for me to go, The autumn moon lights my way."
-It was autumn when Frodo sailed from the Gray Havens, and they rode partially at night. (For you that think he sings this at an earlier stage of the story: it was winter when he was in Rivendell, and early spring in when he was in Lothlorien).
-Metaphorically, the fall theme can mean that the age of elves is ending, Rivendell and Lothlorien will disappear etc.

"But now I smell the rain, And with it pain, And it's headed my way. Ah, sometimes I grow so tired, But I know one thing I got to do, Ramble on,"
-Frodo got sick every autumn - due to the anniversary of his stab wound at Weathertop. He knows he will never heal, and to find peace he has to go to the Undying Lands (Valinor).

"Find the queen of all my dreams."
-The queen is most likely Elbereth (AKA Varda, The Kindler, Queen of the Stars). This was the Vala (=deity) Frodo turned to during his darkest hours. He called upon her; ?O Elbereth Gilthoniel...etc.? e.g. in Shelob?s lair.

"Got no time for spreading roots, The time has come to be gone. And though our health we drank a thousand times, It's time to Ramble on."
-Frodo can not stay to live family life in the Shire like Sam, Merry, Pippin and the others.

"Mine's a tale that can't be told, My freedom I hold dear; How years ago in days of old When magic filled the air, T'was in the darkest depth of Mordor I met a girl so fair, But Gollum, the evil one crept up and slipped away with her."
-Frodo doesn?t want to confess that he gave in to his desire for the ring at Mount Doom. There, for the first time, he claimed the ring as 'his', and declared his love for "her". (Like Isildur, Gollum and Bilbo had before).

Cheers
Andreas Svensson, Norway
- Andreas, Trondheim, Norway
also, there is a lyric in "Heart Breaker" where plant says something along the lines of "well its been ten years or maby more since I first laid eyes on you" ...
- buddy, indianapolis, IN
whats with the lyric "I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On" that sounds like it has something to do with the song "Ten Years Gone"???
- buddy, indianapolis, IN
Bob is my new best friend.
- Caitlin, Philadelphia, PA
Great song!!! Love to drive to this...interesting the references to LOTR..too bad Robert regrets that.
- Julie, Marquette, MI
I was at a small record store called encore records, and I saw a zeppelin bootleg where ramble on is played.. So, you know I guess you're wrong. But this is probably my favorite zeppelin song. John Paul Jones goes crazy in this song!
- Jonathan, Ann Arbor, MI
There were a bunch of songs they never played live.
- Pants, Calgary, Canada
haha! i love what bob said.
they are truly gods.
- Amanda Craigie, winnipeg, Canada
Hell Yeah dave from canada. And this was the ONLY Led Zeppelin song ever that was never done live, i think...thats what i heard on the radio. I have no idea why, they performed much harder live songs than this, like battle of the evermore, stairway, and kashmir.
- Derek, Raleigh, NC
Hands down, this is one of the best Zep songs from easily one of their best albums. I have always had an extra special place in my heart for Led Zeppelin II, not to say I don't love them all. Zep is one of the best bands there ever was or will ever be.
- Dave, Oshawa, Canada
I believe this is one of the best songs written by Led Zepplin, even though he is talking about Lord of the Rings you can incorporate it into real life in some ways. This has a great vibe about it, and it just makes you happy, GREAT SONG
- Matt, Salisbury, MA
The girl he keeps refering to is the ring. The entire course of the journey Frodo hates the ring, but when it finally comes to destroying the ring, he finds that he desires to keep the ring for himself more than he desired to save Middle Earth and fails to destroy it by his will alone. After they return to the Shire, Frodo always feels empty, and thats why he leaves with the elves. In the song, the girl represents Frodos love of the ring. He doesn't love it when he sets out from Rivendell, but by the time he reaches Mount doom he does. And the Last verse of the song talks about how he lost his girl. Woo LOTR!
- Matt, Atascadero, CA
Damn Straight, Bob...Damn Straight
- Joseph, Manteca, CA
Only a member of Led Zeppelin could play a plastic garbage can...and make it sound good. Sometimes, I think the members of Led Zeppelin could cure cancer, they just don't want to.
- Bob, Levittown, PA
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