Led Zeppelin's mis-titled Kashmir

Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin/“Kashmir” is one of the words I google quite frequently for news and other information, since this refers to my lost motherland. Everytime I google it, one or two links to English rock band Led Zeppelin’s song titled Kashmir always appear on the first page. Since I am not a great connoisseur of Western music and had never heard the song, I assumed the song must have something to do with my Kashmir, its beauty, or the conflict there. So, I set out to research the topic a little bit. Turns out the song has really nothing to do with Kashmir, unless you dig deep into the meaning and try to find a far-fetched link. The word “Kashmir” is mentioned only once in the song, that too in passing.

My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon
I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June
When movin’ through Kashmir
… (full lyrics)

From the context, I wonder if the singer-composer Robert Plant even knew much what and where Kashmir was. He was apparently traveling through the African Sahara when the song was written. “Dust floats high in June?” Not in Kashmir. The song was written in early 1970s, Kashmir was a tranquil place and even the metaphorical dust didn’t exist. It is hard to find a meaningful meaning to the song’s lyrics. Seems to have something to do with drugs, and Africa, and Middle East, and not much with the title Kashmir.
According to the Wikipedia page:

Originally called “Driving to Kashmir”, the lyrics to the song were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin’s 1973 US Tour, in an area he called “the waste lands” of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert. This was despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region in the northernmost part of the Indian subcontinent. As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:
โ€œ The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. ‘Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams…’ It’s one of my favourites…that, ‘All My Love’ and ‘In the Light’ and two or three others really were the finest moments. But ‘Kashmir’ in particular. It was so positive, lyrically.โ€
In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, Page mentioned that at the time the song was composed, none of the band members had even been to Kashmir.

Nevertheless, the song is billed as “the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded”. So, watch and listen:

6 replies on “Led Zeppelin's mis-titled Kashmir”

There is no far fetched link the song has everything to do with the geographical region of KASHMIR. Plant himself confirms this it is simply misinformation/misinterpretation and lack of reserach or understanding on the parts of people. The clues are there. It is no coincidence the song was titled ‘Kashmir’ or contains the lyrics ‘Kashmir’ for to conclude ‘Kashmir’ was used for the fun or the sake of it is to basically say the whole song is meaningless nonsense which is far from the case.
The following quote by Plant should set the record straight once and for all that the when the song refers to ‘Kashmir’ it is without doubt the geographical region of ‘Kashmir’ but more correctly it is about ‘Kashmir’ in so far as it is linked to Plants desires. In other words essentially the song is about Plants desire/goals of which KASHMIR is a part of.
Robert Plant Interview – 1976
”But I don’t think Morocco is the most inspiring place that I shall ever go to. It’s my ambition to go to Kashmir, and I’m saving that as the last trek. What I want to do is to travel north from India, but not singing Hari Krishna or anything like that. My old lady comes from India, and her uncle was chief of the Calcutta mounted police during the ’40s. He can speak about 10 different dialects and he’s a really great guy. In fact one of the times that I worked before the Zeppelin days, I had a job as a production control manager in a factory that he ran. I got the sack because I ordered enough steel to keep three factories going for about a year, but I managed to remain his friend and one day I’d like to take him with me and go right up through Kashmir and then stop.”
There is no confusion the message in the quoet is clear.
As far as the lyrics:
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon
I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June
When movinโ€™ through Kashmir
Plant is not saying there is dust in Kashmir. He is saying his desire or more correctly his will to return to his ‘shangri-la’ which is Kashmir as it clearly states in the next line ‘When moving through Kashmir’ his will or desire is as strong as the desire or the will of the dust that without fail floats high in june the summer month. In other words just as the dust whether from the desert or wherever never fails to float high in the month of June just as sure as that will Plant never fail, without doubt to return again to his ‘shangri-la’ his Utopia/Paradise which is Kashmir. He is basically saying that how without doubt the dust will never fail to float high in the summber months like that without doubt will he never fail to return again to his ‘shangri’la’ this ‘shangri-la’ which he has visited in a visionary form only.
‘Seems to have something to do with drugs’ Kashmir is the drug or more correctly the heavenly beauty of Kashmir is but the drug induced Euphoria cannot compare to natural Euphoria of Kashmir. Coincidentally Kashmir is famous for its poppy fields.
So there is nothing ‘mis-titled’ about the song.

Well, I heard the song, then kept listening to it (got it stuck in my head) and didn’t know what Shangri-la was till this song. So I looked it up, and it is interesting that in the ’70s when this song was written, a great movie came out called LOST HORIZON (1973). This is the visual version of the original book. Coincidentally, various aspects from the movie could technically be translated into passages from the song.
But that’s just me.

Who really cares about the “meaning” or if it is or isn’t about Kashmir. It is simply a song meant to entertain, nothing more, nothing less. How many untold songs have no meaning, or lyrics that do not even mention the title of the song? It’s a form of art, and like all art, it is left to the interpretation of the listener. Have you ever looked at a Picasso painting? does it make sense to you? The point is, everyone views art differently. get over it, and enjoy the music. If you don’t care for that type of music, listen to what YOU like. Just remember, to others your music may make no sense….

The lesson to be learned here is:
Indian people are smug, self-important jerks that criticize things that they do not understand.

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