Robert Plant’s list of (some) favorites

I stumbled on this list o’ some of Plant’s favorite songs. I’m not sure why I thought this would be a good idea for a post. I guess maybe because it’s always interesting to know what musicians say inspired them or what they really like. I’ll feature a few of Plant’s choices here and at the bottom of the post, a link to where you can find the whole list. 

“{Plant} shared his love for many different bands and singers from all eras in a participation on the BBC Radio 6 show “6 Music’s Festive Takeover” back in 2021 listing some of his favorite songs of all time and explaining why he thinks they are so important.”

What better place to start than with the King, Elvis Presley doing “I Feel So Bad.” (A song I never heard of – ME).

Plant: “That’s the great Chuck Willis song recorded by Elvis Presley in 1961 in Nashville. Listening to that Nashville sound, do you hear that? Listen to that playing, it’s so clipped and I was very fortunate one time in the golden days when we all dreamed in color to meet Elvis. When I was in Led Zeppelin he wanted to know some stories about us.”

Love the piano in this one. And then wait till the sax kicks in and Elvis screams. How did I miss this one?

The Silly Sisters were an English folk music duo formed by Maddy Prior and June Tabor in 1976. They released only two albums: “Silly Sisters” (1976) and “No More To The Dance” (1988). Plant: “Two remarkable British singers: June Tabor and Maddy Prior taken from the album ‘Silly Sisters’. An album that covers the subjects: work, religion, sexual relations, humor, tragedy, and the absurd.

But “The Grey Funnel Line” is the name of the song, it relates to the life of a sailor in the royal navy, the battleship, just incredible singers.” (If you recognize the name Maddy Prior, it’s because she was (is?) the lead singer for the British folk-rock/medieval-sounding Steeleye Span. Tabor has been more of a solo artist.)

The harmonies on this are just gorgeous:

Plant: “Get that, that’s the amazing Betty Harris. Along with Lee Dorsey and Aaron Neville and so on, all working around, I guess the mixing desk, most probably of the New Orleans studios down there. Ironically, it’s a very contemporary sound for Betty, she quit singing the following year after that.”

“That’s basically the beginning, I think, of The Meters, who are just master Funk exponents. (I’m working on a piece about these guys – ME). So if you get an opportunity, you check her out on Soul Jazz records, there is a remarkable album called The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul.

Here’s Betty Harris doing the incredibly funky “There’s a Break in The Road.” And yeah, that drumming is straight-up New Orleans style:

Ok, it’s Robert Plant, right? There’s gotta be some blues. Well, “Howlin’ Wolf* was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Chicago in adulthood and became successful, forming a rivalry with fellow bluesman Muddy Waters. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.”

Plant: “Howlin’ Wolf’s “Forty Four” recorded in 1954, insane. The bands I’ve been around, everybody just marvels about the cross timing of that stuff. I saw the Wolf when I was 16, he was on a, for about five or six years. Two German promoters brought over a remarkable collection of musicians: Skip James, Bukka White, Son House, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Wolf (Howlin’), Muddy Waters, Sugar Pie De Santo, Hound Dog Taylor.”

Check out my review from a couple years back on Peter Guralnick’s book, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n Roll. Don’t know if he really “invented” it but he did discover Howlin’ Wolf and absolutely loved the guy.

“Born in Leicestershire, England back in 1940, Davey Graham was one of the most influential British guitarists of the 60s, one of those responsible for the British Folk Revival and inspired names like Jimmy Page and Paul Simon.”

Plant: “Remarkable guitarist along with Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. I was following them with the Incredible String Band and people like that. Davey Graham spent time as I think Bert did, in Morocco and he brought back a whole of interesting modal tuning, which creates in itself almost a blue note. Most of the time is a very poignant tuning which allows a different way of minor-key mood.”

*The Rolling Stones performed on a US-based rock show in 1965 called Shindig! and insisted that Howlin’ Wolf be invited on.

The entire list is here

25 thoughts on “Robert Plant’s list of (some) favorites

  1. It’s interesting that he ended up in an ultra-popular hard rock band – he might have been perfectly happy playing folk or acoustic blues (although of course Zep explored both of those directions).

    Silly Sisters is a pretty fun record – containing both the erectile dysfunction anthem ‘My Man’s Got No Courage In Him’ and the very Catholic ‘7 Joys’.

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    1. Yeah, both he and Page had very eclectic tastes. Massive Joni Mitchell fans and the first thing Page ever played for Plant was Joan Baez. But they were also blues guys and back in the late 60s, that was the thing. Who knows what they might have sounded like in a different era?

      And you’re actually familiar with Silly Sisters? Sounded pretty damn obscure to me.

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      1. I generally like 1960s and 1970s folk-rock stuff – I’m planning to cover Steeleye Span on my site sometime, and Silly Sisters is the most famous spin-off album from Steeleye Span.

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        1. I like Steeleye Span. I didn’t do a Christmas post this year but ‘Gaudete’ is one of my go-to songs. I would definitely read that post.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. No “Taurus” by Spirit on Mr. Plant’s list? 🙂

    On a more serious note, he surely has an interesting taste. And, I didn’t know that great Elvis tune either, even though he was my childhood idol. Then, again, this was mostly based on a 40 Greatest Hits compilation, the “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” album and another sampler of love songs.

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    1. Heh. Yes, somehow, he completely overlooked any Spirit tunes. And yeah, he sure does have eclectic tastes. But if you think about it, so do we and a lot of other bloggers. I’ve covered everything from Sinatra to Zappa and “all points in between.” You’ve covered a lot of ground too as have CB, Aphoristical, etc. We’re just not famous. As to Elvis, the only person I can think of who might know that tune is my friend Bill. He knows (and sings) all things Elvis.

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  3. His duos with Alison Krause are nothing short of magical. Her ethereal voice combined with his earthy one makes a fine pair. I think he would have made a great folk musician, but then we wouldn’t have had Zepplin.

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    1. I think we somewhat had the best of both worlds. They always had that element from a jacked-up ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ to ‘Going to California’ to ‘Battle of Evermore.” I see parallels with Gregg Allman, who, when he made his first solo album, revealed the singer/songwriter he really was.

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        1. Where all the music we love comes from – jazz, blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel. Amazing. I want to do a post about that.

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        2. Most folks have no idea the jazz history of Fort Worth. I grew up there and had no clue until a few years ago. Dallas has Deep Ellum for black blues and FW, or Panther City as the old timers call it, has black jazz as good or better than New Orleans.

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  4. Nice to see this – I caught it ‘on air’ as 6Music is my go-to.
    Fittingly, I just googled ‘Led Zeppelin reunion’ and it came back with ‘Page not found’

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    1. Heh! Good one. My prediction for 2022: Plant puts out another fine album; Page re-re-remasters the Zep catalog. He reimagines it as a fantasia, combining tunes from ‘In Through the Out Door’ with tunes from ‘Zep 1’, really bringing out the bass the way God intended. Can a Vegas Beatles-style show like ‘Love’ be far off? They can call it ”Stairway to Zeppelin” and geezers like me can grab their walkers and go re-live their misspent youth. Medicinal pot allowed and quite likely, needed.

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      1. There’ll be a four-vinyl ‘mega trip experience’ box set that comes with its own branded rolling papers and he’ll use interviews to talk up the solo album that’s been ‘imminent’ as often as The Cure’s new album has been ‘nearly ready’.
        It’ll still sell enough to keep him in guitar strings and ironic legal battles with his neighbours over noise pollution

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        1. Yeah, I don’t have a real problem with him. It was interesting to see different styles but I’m not quite sure it was a meeting of equals.

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        2. I think it’s more about his attempts to create his own myths… there’s a chunk in there about how he only uses old instruments etc and yet recently ‘had’ to buy a brand-new guitar and has since used nothing but the most expensive new signature (EVH etc) models. Not to mention the whole unexplained presence of a kid in his scenes (I think I read somewhere that he wanted it to represent his younger soul or something).
          Yeah… there were times when it looked like The Edge realised that ‘holy shit, that’s Jimmy Page breaking down Kashmir and I’ve got a delay pedal to demonstrate’
          Curious as to who could sit next to Page in such a documentary as an equal.
          On a similar note: have you seen Knoplfer on Guitar Stories?

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        3. Yeah, White likes the image for sure. And agreed about Edge. I like his sound but I’ve never rated him. I have seen some Knopfler stuff. Good, but he now looks like an old lorry driver.

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