The 50 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs
Guitar World presents a critical analysis of Led Zeppelin's 50 best tracks.
09. "The Rain Song" (Houses of the Holy)
Performed in an unusual tuning (low to high, D G C G C D) with lots of ringing open strings and unison-doubled notes, this beautiful song features a sophisticated chord progression that was initially inspired by Beatle George Harrison, who challenged Page to write a ballad.
After playfully evoking the verse section of Harrison’s “Something” on the first three chords of “The Rain Song,” Page veers off into an ultimately more ambitious and original progression. Particularly inventive and cool sounding is the Hawaiian-flavored dominant-ninth chord slide that precedes the first lyric line of each verse.
When asked to explain why the studio version of “The Rain Song” is in the key of G while the live version, as heard in the film The Song Remains the Same, is in A, Page replied, “It surprises me to hear you say that, because I thought they were both in A. Okay, the [live] tuning is [low to high] E A D A D E.
The only two strings that change are the G, which goes up to A, and the B, which goes up to D.” Page explained how he arrived at this unusual tuning. “I altered the strings around so that I’d have an octave on the A notes and an octave on the D notes, and still have the two Es,” he said. “Then I just went to see what finger positions would work.”
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