Robert Plant sat down for an interview with The Guardian's Jude Rogers, looking back on & dissecting different phases of his career as a musician.
He explains that he's 'horrified' by some of his vocal performances from Zeppelin's early days, admits to being tutored by Alison Krauss, delves into his complicated relationship with Patty Griffin & the magnitism he feels towards North African music.
When talking about his Zeppelin days, Plant explains that by Zeppelin III he decided he needed to adjust his vocal style. '“I realised that tough, manly approach to singing I’d begun on You Better Run wasn’t really what it was all about at all. Songs like [Led Zeppelin I’s] Babe I’m Going To Leave You …” He flinches. “I find my vocals on there horrific now. I really should have shut the f up!”
He also paints a vivid picture of young Robert being influenced by Asian and African music. “My neighbours were Gujarati. Coming home, I would walk up the alley in-between our terraced houses, and turn left instead of right, and just sit on the lino with my neighbours, have a bowl of curry, listening to their music."
Plant explains that the album Presence is one that he tends to stay away from. It brings him back to the pain he felt physically (after a car crash) and mentally. “The whole of that album, is absolutely wracked with pain. Plus, the fraternity of the band at the time was stretched to breaking point.”
He credits Alison Krauss with teaching him out to be a better singer, both by them singing duets together and by her acting like this teacher/producer in the studio. “I was basically tutored by Alison. She’s a very precise singer who’s done more duets than you can shake a stick at, and I was thinking: help, I’m a rock singer, no matter what I do. But, of course, I’m not: I’m just a guy that sings songs.”
He's open about his sensual relationship with singe Patty Griffin and how difficult their breakup was to him. He wrote the song 'Embrace The Fall' about it and explains, "It’s also about guilt. Guilt about leaving. I couldn’t hack it.”
While he doesn't party nearly as hard as he used to, Plant does enjoy cider quite a bit. "I shall be at a cider farm outside Bromyard with a bunch of Polish people who shake apple trees all day and a friend who sells cider. That’s much better for me than being a rockaday Johnny in America, you know. There’s no respite there.”
The article and it's accompanying playlist provide an interesting look into a reflective Robert Plant.
In our series where great musicians tell the stories behind memorable records from their back catalogue, the Led Zep frontman discusses his enduring love for Patty Griffin and why he's happiest in the land of cider, Wolves and Welsh mythology