Some of Robert Plant's lyrics in this song 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, as they don't make all that much sense - a fair maiden wouldn't be found in Mordor, and Gollum would want nothing to do with her anyway, since his only concern is the precious ring.
This is one of Led Zeppelin's most enduring songs, but they never performed it live from start to finish while the band was active. It was in their set when Zeppelin reunited for a one-off concert
at the O2 Arena in London on December 10, 2007. John Bonham's son Jason filled in on drums at that show.
Zeppelin recorded this in New York when they were on their first US tour.
What John Bonham played as percussion to supplement his drums on this song is not clear. It sounds like bongos, but has been reported to be a plastic garbage pail or a guitar case.
The concept of the troubadour "rambling on" - going from place to place and constantly moving forward - is one Robert Plant embraced. In his post-Zeppelin career, he went from one project to the next, refusing to fall back on nostalgia. It was Plant who kiboshed the proposed Led Zep reunion tour in 2007.
The group Train covered this on their 2001 Midnight Moon album. Their lead singer, Pat Monahan, 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.
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.
Along with "Going To California
," this is one of two Led Zeppelin songs used in the 2019 indie film The Friend
. The band agreed to license the songs at a much lower rate than usual after hearing pleas from the filmmakers. The movie tells the true story of Nicole Teague, a woman with terminal cancer. The songs were part of her story and played an important role in the narrative.