Track 7 from Led Zeppelin's 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. The lyrics use imagery from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to suggest an interesting character note for Frodo Baggins. The music simply rocks. From the beginning of the song, with John Bonham tapping out a straight rhythm on the bongos and Jimmy Page strumming out that slightly jangly guitar intro, to the last chorus, where Robert Plant's voice loops and echoes back over itself (and from left to right if you're listening in stereo) like a demon, the whole song comes together beautifully. Other highlights are John Paul Jones' transition from the simple bass part in the verses to the funk-inspired arpeggios in the chorus, the strings that lilt in and out during the bridge, and the rhythmic variations in the strummed guitar part during the verses.
The Lord of the Rings analogies are packed into this one, and if you haven't read the books, turn off your computer and go read them. I mean it, there's a spoiler in the next few sentences.
For those of you who have read the books, I think you can agree that the first two verses are probably about Frodo leaving the company of Galadriel after the autumn feast. In these verses, "ramble on" means to continue his quest.
The third is tougher to nail down, but I maintain that it's about Frodo missing his chance to martyr himself (and simultaneously end the burden of carrying the One Ring) in Mordor. The "girl so fair" is none other than Death. She's the "queen of all (his) dreams," the one thing he's been dreaming about and hoping for during his long quest to Mordor--in this verse, "ramble on" means to get on with his life, enjoy what he has left, and await his death without fear. That's my take, but here are the lyrics--come to your own conclusions.
Leaves are falling all around,
it's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you--I'm much obliged
for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go;
the autumn moon lights my way.
And now I smell the rain
, and with it pain,
and it's heading my way.
Oh, sometimes I grow so tired... but I know there's one thing I've got to do:
Now's the time--the time is now--to sing my song.
I'm going round the world, I gotta find my girl.
On my way, I been this way ten years to the day.
Ramble on, and find the queen of all my dreams
Now's no time for spreading roots;
the time has come to be gone.
And though we drank our health a thousand times,
it's time to ramble on.
Mine's a tale that can't be told,
(my freedom I hold dear)
but years ago, in days of old, when magic ruled the air,
'twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair
, the evil one, crept up and slipped away with her!
Ain't nothing I can do, no... I guess I'll keep on
CHORUS (with "...rambling." replacing "Ramble on!" in the first line)
This song has been covered (and not terribly badly) by Phish
, and the Nashville Superpickers
a la bluegrass
, among others.