Calling To You

Album: Fate Of Nations (1993)

Songfacts®:

  • Robert Plant selected this as the subject for the first episode of the Digging Deep podcast series he released simultaneously with his album Digging Deep: Subterranea in 2020. He did so because the song was important to his personal and artistic evolution.

    Plant felt like the creation of this song was the first time he truly broke away from his past with Led Zeppelin and fully opened himself up to a new stage of creative freedom. He was glad to do so because he was ready to break loose from the artist he'd been. "By the time it got to 1993," he says in Digging Deep, "I was determined to grow up a little bit, to finally shed all the last remnants of 'The Lemon Song.'"

    So, in his desire to grow and mature, Plant wanted to create a song that said something of social and philosophical significance. He thought specifically back to '60s bands who were trying to say something important with their music, noting Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Traffic, and Tim Hardin.

    The song he came up with in this effort, "Calling To You," is about greed and human destructiveness. This is according to Plant himself, though it's not entirely easy to discern it from the lyrics. It's not clear what is "calling to you" in the chorus, though we can presume from Plant's statements that it's the incessant human need to conquer new horizons and gain new things - something many characterize as greed.
  • Plant wanted a discordant drone sound beneath the music in the song, so he brought in some classical Indian musicians from the Deccan Plateau. They couldn't quite capture the sound Plant was looking for, so he contacted a famed English violinist named Nigel Kennedy, who nailed the song and appears on the final version. He's in the music video as well.
  • Plant was pleased with the music video that goes with the song. It shows him and his band playing in a dungeon with a flaming wrecking ball swinging back and forth, machine fog filling the room, and a couple dozen people watching and head banging. Plant felt the video fell into perfect energetic synch with the music.
  • At the very end of the song, just before the music starts to fade, Plant sings, "Oh, Jimmy." This is almost certainly a reference to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. The line has led many to assume the entire song is "calling to" Page (perhaps in reaction to his work with David Coverdale in Coverdale–Page), but that doesn't seem to fit Plant's other explanations of the song's meaning. So, it's something of a mystery why he throws that in there.
  • Plant performed this live at his shows from 1993 through 2002. Page and Plant performed an extended version as a medley on their 1995 No Quarter tour.

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