Led Zeppelin first recorded this song in 1971. it was intended for Led Zeppelin 4, but was put on Physical Graffiti to fill the double album. This song is about a man dodging a military draft, according to Robert Plant. Despite the title, it has nothing in common with: The album by Moody Blues, the 1933 Clark Gable film, the novel by Antoine de Saint Exupery, or the groundbreaking, classic, 1980s, USA network TV series Night Flight, which we will never shut up raving about because it is just that many tons of awesome.
Most of this song was written by Led Zeppelin's bass player, John Paul Jones, who is listed first on the writing credits. It is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs with no guitar solo.
While there's no official live recording of the band playing this, bootlegs abound of one time when they did it during a sound check on stage. A different studio version was produced with extra backing vocals.
In the liner notes for the Led Zeppelin box set, Jimmy Page declares: "To be able to fuse all these styles was always my dream in the early stages, but now the composing side of it is just as important."
In Frank Moriarty's book Seventies Rock: The Decade of Creative Chaos, Moriarty recounts how critics were less receptive to Zeppelin's stateside invasion than their fans: "The writers insisted the band's concerts did little more than placate legions of Quaalude-swallowing, whiskey-and-wine-swilling cretins, a vulgar audience that filled the soulless hockey rinks and municipal auditoriums of the United States - and Led Zeppelin was more to be blamed for the group's low-rent audiences than praised for their music." Good thing their reputation recovered, then!
Therese from Ohio, UsaAnyone else love the four "uh" grunts at the end? Mmmm!
Gavin from Toronto, CanadaListen to the last big drum fill Bonzo plays toward the end of the song... Its his famous "Stairway to Heaven" drum fill!
Paul from Southern Pines, NcA fantastic song that was partially together in late-1970 by John Paul Jones. The band had an abundance of songs for the Led Zeppelin IV Album (Released in 1971) and this song was held for a later album that they had planned for 1972 .
Surprisingly, it was not on the 'Houses of the Holy' album, and was pushed back to 'Physical Graffiti'
Nate from New York, NyYes Peter, John Paul Jones is playing an organ throughout the song, you're right.
Mark from Ann Arbor, MoI listened to this by Jeff Buckley. I didnt know it was LedZeppelin. thats how dope they both are
Robert from Houston, TxSorry, Adrian, but you only have to look at "In The Light" and "Trampled Underfoot" on the same album to see credit order was based on level of contribution, not alphabetically.
Jim from Long Beach, CaThis song is about fleeing the Vietnam draft. When Zeppelin toured North America they would hear about the draft dodgers and met a few in Canada. They opposed the war, and this is a great song...
Adrian from Gettysburg, PaJust a note, John Paul Jones was always listed first on every Zeppelin song he got credit for, because they listed the names alphabetically.
Bill from Fairfield, CaSwan Song actually became Midnight Moonlight by The Firm, Pages post Zeppelin group with Paul Rodgers.
Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiLed Zeppelin did in fact perform this live once during a soundcheck at Chicago Stadium on July 6th, 1973. There are bootlegs of this.
Melanie from Seattle, WaThis song is so awesome! I can't believe I hadn't heard it until recently.
Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiIs that an organ that you can hear throughout the whole song?
Trevor from Los Angeles, Cait's about fleeing from the militaly draft
Thomas from Staten Island, NyTo Ryan,Mesa,AZ, where and how can I get swan song please tell me I've been searching!!!
Niall from Dublin, Irelandyeah do chris
Chris from Whitesboro, NyA little revision to my previous post, Page/Plant used this as an encore during a few concerts for the 1998 tour. I have a full version if anybody wants me to upload it......
Max from Brockton, Mathis song is so awesome....but what the hell is it about?
Niall from Dublin, Irelandlove this tune
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis sounds like early led zeppelin from the sixties.
Addison from Versailles, KyI love this song. It's so under rated but most good music is. I love turning my radio up and jammin' to it.
Amy from Melbourne, AustraliaJeff Buckley does a gorgoeous version of this which appears on the Live at Sin-e (Legacy Edition) CD.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScJPJ's awesome! This song is awesome!
Niall from Dublin, Irelandthanks chris, never knew that. anyway i think john paul jones, should of wrote more songs.
Chris from Whitesboro, NyNight Flight WAS in fact performed during the 1996 stretch of the No Quarter tour, but only as a part of the Whole Lotta Love medley...
Greg from Erie, PaWhat is this song about? "Across the water" seems like it could mean on the other side of the Atlantic, and some of the other stuff sounds like it might refer to Viet Nam, maybe.
Jeanette from Irvine, Canice song. you start appreciating jpj more and more the deeper you go.
Niall from Dublin, Irelanda great fun track, i love it
Kyle from Naperville, IlI'm almost certain this song was NOT on the No Quarter tour, but I could be wrong as well.
Steve from Oroville, CaThis song, and Over THe Hills And Far Away, are JPJ's finest in my opinion.
Paul Humphreys from Margate, EnglandI'm fairly sure I can remember Page and Plant playing this on the No Quarter tour? Please correct me if anyone knows any different.
Ben from Oakville, CanadaIncredible man, kinda reminds me of rush
Colin K from Sndy Creek, Ohthis is my daughter's (paige) favorite song. jpj is the best rock bass player that ever lived hands down
Frankie from St. Louis, MoJohn Paul Jones, always pretty simple but when he hits the right notes, its just like jimmy busting out the sweetest solo ever. id say this, the lemon song, and misty mountain hop are jpjs best songs
Ryan from Mesa, AzI read somewhere that the acoustic "Swan Song" track that was never released was re-written and called Night Flight. I dont know though cause Swan Song and this sound nothing alike. By the way if you haven't heard it...get Swan Song. It's excellent.
Ac from Winnipeg, Canadawhat exactly is this song about? i love it though.
Adrian from Wilmington, DeI agree kelly, Robert's singing on this is awesome and Bonzo's drumming rules!
Kelly from Los Angeles, Cathis is a great song! underrated, just like jpj.