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Robert Plant wrote the lyrics about the state of the band at the time: they were not all getting along. Jimmy Page and John Bonham were spending a lot of time together enjoying life as Rock Stars, while Plant and John Paul Jones were showing up on time and doing most of the work on the album. As a result, the band wasn't working together as much, but Page and Bonham were capable of working on their own and would add their parts when they did show up, usually very late at night. The lyrics ended up getting drowned out in the mix, mostly by Page's guitar, so they are very hard to understand.
The song reminded the band of something you might hear when riding on a carousel, hence the name of the song. (thanks, Marshall - Gallatin, TN)
Jimmy Page played a double-neck guitar on this. Some of it is processed through a Gizmotron, a device that adds distortion.
One of Led Zeppelins longer songs, this runs 10:28.
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
The STP drummer talks about how they write their songs, and how the process is different now that Chester Bennington has replaced Scott Weiland.