Your Song Changed My Life: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page On Lonnie Donegan NPR Music's Bob Boilen talks with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin about a song that changed his life, "Rock Island Line," by Lonnie Donegan.
NPR logo

Your Song Changed My Life: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page On Lonnie Donegan

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/475773220/475773221" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Your Song Changed My Life: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page On Lonnie Donegan

Your Song Changed My Life: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page On Lonnie Donegan

Your Song Changed My Life: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page On Lonnie Donegan

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/475773220/475773221" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR Music's Bob Boilen talks with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin about a song that changed his life, "Rock Island Line," by Lonnie Donegan.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Jimmy Page is a guitar legend. Just to refresh your memory...

(SOUNDBITE OF LED ZEPPELIN SONG, "BLACK DOG")

CORNISH: Page is one of the founding members of the rock band Led Zeppelin. For the book "Your Song Changed My Life," NPR Music's Bob Boilen spoke to Page about the song that changed his life, and it's not a hard-rocking song. The story begins when Jimmy Page was 8. His family moved from the London suburbs to the town of Epsom. And in their new home, someone had left behind a guitar.

JIMMY PAGE: It was the campfire guitar, you know? It was sort of, you know, round hole - yeah, literally that, like a campfire. But it did have all the string on, which was pretty useful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK ISLAND LINE")

LONNIE DONEGAN: (Singing) I got all livestock. I got all livestock. I got all livestock. And the man say, well, you're all right boy; just get on through. You don't have to pay me nothing.

PAGE: And there was this sort of explosion of music in the '50s. And what we had over in England was this guy Lonnie Donegan. The song I'm going to sort of give as an illustration of this is "Rock Island Line."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK ISLAND LINE")

DONEGAN: (Singing) I got pig iron. I got pig iron. I got all pig iron. Now, I'll tell you where I'm going, Boy - down the Rock Island Line. She's a mighty good road.

PAGE: I mean, he was superb. It was absolutely superb. But there he was, playing, like, an acoustic guitar. Sort of every Saturday there would be a show on the television where usually he was on every other week, and it was just something to behold at the time, just his whole passion and the way that he deliver this material.

Now, the thing is that he'd been in a jazz band prior to that, and he really understood all of this sort of blues, American country, blues and all of that. By the time you get to the end of this, he's really spitting it out - "Rock Island Line." It's fantastic stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK ISLAND LINE")

DONEGAN: (Singing) Down the Rock Island Line - she's a mighty good road. The Rock Island Line is the road to ride. Yeah, the Rock Island Line - she's a mighty good road. But if you want to ride, you got to ride it like you find it. Get your ticket at the station of the Rock Island Line.

PAGE: So this guitar was there, and then somebody showed me how to tune it up - somebody at school. Then I started strumming away like - not (unintelligible) but having a go, just sort of strumming chords and all of that stuff. You'll find so many of the guitarists from the '60s will all say Lonnie Donegan was the influence. So here you go. Have a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK ISLAND LINE")

DONEGAN: (Singing) The Rock Island Line - she's a mighty good road. And if you want to ride, you got to ride it like you find it. Get your ticket at the station of the Rock Island Line.

CORNISH: That's Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin. He was talking with NPR's Bob Boilen about the song that changed his life, Lonnie Donegan's recording of "Rock Island Line."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCK ISLAND LINE")

DONEGAN: (Singing) The Rock Island Line - she's a mighty good road. And if you want to ride, you got to ride it like you find it. Get your ticket at the station of the Rock Island Line.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.