“In The Light”
This is not the best song by this band. This is not the best song on this album, is not the best song on this half of the album and, in even more specific terms, is not even the best song on this (spectacular) side of this (again, spectacular) record.
But take its components — Jones’ still-somewhat-novel-to-them deployment of the keys, Page’s quasi-Baroque guitar lines in the chorus, Bonham’s thunderous drum assault, Plant’s full-throated wailing about life and death and ev’rybody — and what you have is something perhaps more akin to a musical thesis statement than anything else in their catalog. The verses all doom and foreboding blues (woman!), a man losing his very soul(!!) and a six-string spinning the wheel of minor-key death behind him(!!!) but behold! The triumphant clavinet! The roll of the toms! The Light!
And so a (read: this) fan of this band points to this track the way a Van Morrison fan may direct outsiders to “Astral Weeks” or a Metallica fan might single out . . . actually no, Metallica fans don’t work that way*.
But the point stands. It’s unique in sonics, unconventional in structure, surprisingly tasteful in execution, and four minutes of a pretty good song hiding inside of eight minutes of superior-grade music. This is not the best Led Zeppelin song, but it is the most Led Zeppelin song, and in the scheme of things that’s still pretty great.
(*) I say as one of them that Metallica fans actually 1) have specifically favorite songs and 2) weaponize said favorite against all other reasonable candidates for the title, which are both terrible ways to look at it, but also somewhat strange considering everyone who knows anything knows their best song is “Battery.” You heard me.