The Synth Solo In A Led Zeppelin Song That Proves John Paul Jones’ Genius
As a session musician, John Paul Jones had the chance to work on various musical projects from his bandmate Jimmy Page’s former band, The Yardbirds, to Donovan. The talented bassist, however, wanted to take on a new and more effective role in creating music rather than performing what was already written. An opportunity arose when he heard that Page was looking for a bassist for his new band and as the two musicians agreed to work together; Led Zeppelin‘s foundations were laid.
While some may argue that the bass’ role is overshadowed by other instruments, it can also be argued that the bass is considered to be the soul of the rhythm. The instrument creates a musical pathway between the drums and the rest of the tunes. John Paul Jones’ role as a bassist was undeniably important within Led Zeppelin but being the soul of the rhythm wasn’t his only talent. Jones was also an avid keyboard player with an interest in classics.
As John had the chance to compose his own solos, the musician experimented with keyboards and gravitated towards synth music. In fact, one of Jones’ particular solos was named among his most important works, since it portrayed the genius of the talented musician. The song was an emotional ode to a bandmate’s then-recent passing, and John’s synth solo emphasized the tragedy and brought a unique layer to the track.
Which John Paul Jones Track Reflected His Musical Genius?
In 1977, Led Zeppelin was on tour across the United States. The band was enjoying the height of their fame when a tragedy struck. Robert Plant’s five-year-old son, Karac Pendragon Plant died due to a stomach virus on July 26, 1977, while the band was still touring.
The unfortunate death of the young boy caused Plant to return home, and consequently, the upcoming performances were canceled. During the period, the band had faced other setbacks as well, but Plant’s bandmates gave him the needed time to grieve.
As Jimmy Page later commented:
”We were all mates. We had to give the man [Plant] some space.”
After a period of mourning, Robert returned to the studios, and Led Zeppelin started working on their seventh studio album, 1979’s ‘In Through the Out Door.’ As his bandmates empathized with the grieving father, they decided to dedicate a song to Karac’s memory. Even though the track was initially called ‘The Hook,’ the name was later changed to ‘All My Love.’
The song was mainly composed and written by Robert Plant and John Paul Jones as the duo reflected the tragedy the Plant family suffered through. The song was emotional, devastating, and regarded as phenomenal by various established critics. Andrew Doscas of PopMatters magazine named the track one of the most sincere and sorrow-infused Led Zeppelin songs. Doscas even stated that the ‘All My Love’s gloomy manner foreshadowed the eventual dissolution of the band.
”It is the saddest and most heartfelt Zeppelin song. It’s a fitting ode to Plant’s son, which hauntingly enough sounds like a foreshadowing of a band on the path to an impending and unforeseeable dissolution.”
John Paul Jones’ role in the composing process of the song was quite a significant one. The bassist displayed his talents in playing keyboards and his synth solo complimented by Page’s guitar riffs brought a unique baroque element into the track. Jones’ genius take on the tune turned the song into a modern-day requiem.
Later on, Plant regarded the song as one of Led Zeppelin’s ‘finest moments.’ ‘All My Love’ was a great opportunity for John Paul Jones to portray his talents as an eclectic figure in the rock scene. It’s also been said that Jimmy Page and John Bonham were a bit reluctant to compose the song with a ‘soft rock’ approach. Nonetheless, Jones’ synth take combined with Plant’s haunting vocals created a multiple-layered song which clearly shows Jones’ talent to bring new elements into his work.
You can listen to ‘All My Love’ below.