Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!
“Immigrant Song” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin.
The “land of ice and snow” is Iceland, where the band played in June 1970. Robert Plant explained: “We weren’t being pompous. We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be canceled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. ‘Immigrant Song’ was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.”
One of the lyrics became part of Led Zeppelin lore. The line, “The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands” got many of their fans referring to Zeppelin’s sound as the “hammer of the gods.” The phrase was used by author Stephen Davis as the title of a book about the band.
Led Zeppelin meant for this song to be somewhat humorous, relating their adventures on the road to the Vikings who fought the hordes to conquer new lands. They weren’t known as a funny band, so a lot of their fans took it quite seriously.
The hiss at the beginning is feedback from an echo unit. It was intentional.
Robert Plant’s love of history played into the lyric, as he was thinking about explorers like Marco Polo and how they must have felt in their travels. Just as he felt pressure to top the previous album, he wondered if these explorers felt pressure to find even better lands after a big discovery.Until the Zeppelin boxed set was released, the fan favorite “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” could be found only on the flip side of this single. In Japan, the single was mistakenly released with “Out On The Tiles” as the B-side. That one became a rare collectible.
The line, “Valhalla I am coming,” refers to Norse mythology. Valhalla is a hall in Asgard where the souls of fallen warriors are taken by the “Valkyries,” which are spirits of war who carry up heroes who have been slain. Only heroes are taken to Valhalla, where they will wait for their certain doom.
To get permission to use this song in the movie School Of Rock, the star of the movie, Jack Black, videotaped himself singing in front of a huge crowd of people, begging Led Zeppelin to let them use the song in the movie. They succeeded, and the song was featured in a scene where Black sings along to the tune when it comes on the radio in his van, which he is using to transport his students.
“It may seem corny, but it worked,” Jack Black said on the DVD. “The moral of the story is, Don’t be too proud to beg.”
Led Zeppelin opened their live shows with this song from 1970-1972.
This plays over the credits of the French TV series 50 Minutes Inside.
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O covered this song for the 2011 film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It can be heard over the opening credits/title sequence.
The song soundtracks the trailer for the 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok. The iconic opening riff kicks in while Cate Blanchett, a.k.a. Hela, the Goddess of Death, turns to the camera. The track continues to play as she wrecks havoc in Thor’s world.
Led zeppelin: The Immigrant Song. Album: Led Zeppelin III Released: 5 November 1970.