I am a traveler of both time and space
To be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race
This world has seldom seen
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This song was written by several members of the band - Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham.
"Kashmir" became - and remains - extremely popular. It was almost always a part of a Led Zeppelin concert. The list of artists and groups who have recorded a cover version is long and distinguished and includes The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bond [the female string quartet], and the South American heavy metal band Angra. The song ranked highly in the USA, UK and Australian charts and is described as the song which best displays the vibrant chemistry of this British rock band.
"Kashmir" has some interesting musical qualities. The standard guitar tuning is EADGBE, but when performing "Kashmir" the band tuned to the alternative mix of DAD-GAD. This is sometimes known as the Celtic tuning and was made popular in the 1960s by folk guitarist Davey Graham as he tried to capture the sounds of music in Morocco. Led Zeppelin simply followed suit, because when in Morocco, do as the locals do.
The song was originally called "Driving to Morocco" and, because the track runs for more than 8 minutes, some radio stations were reluctant to play it, but changed their tune once the music became so successful.
As the original title suggests, the song is about traveling, and in this case it was along a single lane road through the Sahara Desert to Tan-Tan in Southern Morocco. At the time of writing the song, none of the Led Zeppelin band members had ever been to the area.
Now there is a little geographical confusion here. Kashmir is an area in the north of the Indian subcontinent. The majestic Himalayan mountain range dominates much of Kashmir. It is an area with a long history and a long battle for sovereignty involving India, Pakistan and China. So while the song is called "Kashmir," it's actually about a journey, which at the time was in Morocco, with the final destination of that journey being Kashmir. Thus, we have a song written on one continent about a journey on another continent with the journey's end being on a third continent. And if you think that's
odd, wait till you discover the myth of the beads.
Kashmir Sun Temple Martand Indogreek
The word 'fad' seems to have been invented for the so-called Guelmin beads. Guelmin is also spelt Guelmim.
The make-love-not-war generation of the 1960s, sometimes called hippies, traveled to, at the time, non-touristy spots, such as Marrakech, in search of an alternative lifestyle. When European and American hippies "invaded" Morocco and surrounds 50 years ago, they chose to wear some of the local beads. But local they were not, having been made in Venice, Italy. And to add another twist to the jewelry saga, today the Guelmin beads are a collector's item, being almost non-existent, meaning contemporary hippies search in vain for the cultural icons of their grandparents.
The two significant towns which are part of the "Driving to Morocco" journey are Tan-Tan and Guelmin. The region is close to the famous Sahara Desert with its tales of nomads, camels, and mirages in a sea of sand. In Morocco, the town of Tan-Tan is a few miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a town rich in history and offers much to tourists, particularly in art and culture.
The surrounding area is mainly flat and dry, with sparse vegetation. In the song, this narrow road between Tan-Tan and Guelmin is known as the gateway to the desert, the vast Sahara Desert. The markets in the region are famous for their camels and many other cultural items. Just don't bank on buying too many of those Guelmin beads.
~ Cenarth Fox
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