• The Battle Of Evermore

    Music & lyrics by Led Zeppelin and article by Davis Inman

    You may not know it yet, but a big fan of The Lord of The Rings. It also happens that Led Zeppelin IV, the album this epic track is taken from, is my one of my all-time favourite records. Although the article reposted below says nothing about it in spite of the direct mention of the Ring Wraiths in the lyrics, to me this folky song is directly inspired by Tolkien's books. I would even say that the Queen of Light and the Prince of Peace are certainly referring to Galadriel (bearer of the Ring of Light and often called the White Lady) and Aragorn (lone ranger and heir of the throne of Gondor). As for the apples mentioned twice, they could be a reference to the fruit that gave birth to White Tree of Gondor which is dying from the evil spreading over Middle-Earth.


    The Battle of Evermore

    Queen of Light took her bow and then she turned to go
    The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom and walked the night alone

    (Oh, dance in the dark of night, sing to the morning light)
    The dark Lord rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all
    (Oh, throw down your plow and ho, rest not to lock your homes)
    Side by side we wait the might of the darkest of them all

    I hear the horses' thunder down in the valley below
    I'm waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow

    The apples of the valley hold, the seeds of happiness
    The ground is rich from tender care, Repay, do not forgetno, no

    (Dance in the dark of night, sing to the morning light)
    The apples turn to brown and black, The tyrant's face is red
    (Oh war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly)
    The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know

    Oh, well, the night is long the beads of time pass slow
    Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow

    The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath
    The drums will shake the castle wall, the ring wraiths ride in blackride on!

    (Sing as you raise your bow, shoot straighter than before)
    No comfort has the fire at night that lights the face so cold
    (Oh dance in the dark of night, Sing to the morning light)
    The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back — bring it back!

    At last the sun is shining, the clouds of blue roll by
    With flames from the dragon of darkness, the sunlight blinds his eyes

    © Robert Plant, 1971

    About this song

    On the third song from Led Zeppelin’s epic IV, Robert Plant introduces his Queen of Light character, who will become so central for the album’s pièce de résistance, “Stairway To Heaven.” (Read the recent Behind The Song for “Stairway” and our Legends profile of Robert Plant, both from the Jan/Feb 2011 issue.) Like “Stairway” and so much of Zeppelin’s imagery, “Evermore” is influenced by Celtic mythology and, according to Stephen Davis’ biography Hammer Of The Gods, also by works like Robert Graves’ White Goddess and Lewis Spence’s Magic Arts In Celtic Britain.

    “Evermore” is even more directly inspired by the fifteenth and sixteenth century Anglo-Scottish wars, mostly fought along the border of the two countries, which Plant had been reading about prior to writing the lyrics. While the lyrics can today seem a tad cliché, they very much recreate the stark space of a battle song. Most Zep enthusiasts already know the story of the song’s creation — a chance incident of guitarist Jimmy Page picking up bassist John Paul Jones’ mandolin at the band’s rented country house-cum-studio, Headley Grange, in East Hampshire, England, during the recording sessions for what would become the band’s fourth album. Sandy Denny, the one-time singer of Newport Convention, was invited to play the role of the Queen of Light. The archetype re-emerges in “Stairway” as the May Queen and seems to also pervade “Going to California” (itself an homage to Joni Mitchell).

    In the Continuum book series 33 1/3 on Led Zeppelin IV, author Erik Davis says gender also plays a role in the song. Davis sees Plant’s Prince of Peace and Denny’s Queen of Light as a real masculine/feminine dynamic, whereas the rock and roll archetype of Page and Plant and the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards represented androgyny and gender blurring. Denny, on the other hand, balances the masculine warrior Plant. She tells of the coming battle and urges the prince to action with lines like “Dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light” and “throw down your plow and hoe, race now to my bow.” Significantly for her involvement, Denny broke into Zep’s male ‘division-of-four’ that was the band’s trademark – literally. She was awarded a symbol of three pyramids by her name in the credits of the album sleeve. Denny also cements the band to the contemporary ’60s English folk scene, by which Zeppelin, and Page especially, were very much influenced. Groups like Fairport, Incredible String Band, and Pentangle – with it’s dual guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn – provided much early inspiration for Page’s conception of Zeppelin.

    Par Davis Inman
    © American Songwriter

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