Legend has it that Jimmy Page wrote The Rain Song in a single afternoon in 1972. Inspired by Beatle George Harrison’s observation that Led Zeppelin never wrote any ballads, the first three chords can be recognized by a careful listener as a hat tip to Harrison’s Something.
Released on 1973’s Houses of the Holy, The Rain Song has endured as one of Zep’s best loved tunes and representative of Page’s orchestral, heavily suspended acoustic style. Page also reportedly arranged the melody, to which Robert Plant wrote the lyrics.
I’m not the first to wonder how the history of rock would have unfolded differently had Page and Plant never found each other. Both brilliant but neither complete, their unique sounds can scarcely be imagined independent of each other.
Brian Macinanti helps in the imagining. Reminiscent of the grunge songwriters who defied the tension between the subtle vulnerability of a love ballad and the sheer force available to those willing to use the axe as a blunt instrument, Macinanti gives us a welcome Cornellian window into Zeppelin’s aesthetic.
Recognizably a product of the musical ‘90s, the original tunes Macinanti has posted to his YouTube channel make for good listening too. Take Madness, for example, one of his “older original songs.. about what happens when you compromise yourself too much for others and [the] consequences of not being true to yourself.”