Bouncing and bounding in on itself in effortless emotional tessellations, worming itself snugly under the tiles of the listener’s subconscious, “Four Sticks” serves to prove that if Led Zeppelin wrote it, people would be in awe of its obvious beauty. Harmonically the tune is fairly simple. It’s essentially the same chord progression as “The Immigrant Song,” and the main riff hooks the ear in and lays the foundation for its emotionally charged top-line.
This was Zeppelin donning the raiment of prog. The 5/8 main riff contrasting with the occasional 6/8 conclusion crafted a sense of forward motion and urgency to the music. Yet, however complex its metre, it did one thing that we (Crown Lands) adore; it made itself easy to listen to. Nobody was left on a sharp uneven turnaround, to figure it out while the music passed them by. It invites the listener with pleasing chordal choices enmeshed within John Bonham and John Paul Jones’ witty rhythmic foundation.
Plant’s vocal performance on this track has been among my favourite of his entire career, soaring high above the firmament and with a sense of languid poignancy that I’ve yearned to integrate into my own style of singing. The lyrics themselves, odd and mysterious, paint many pictures that are more imagery and emotion than a narrative to be followed through. That’s what I love so much about it. It’s raw emotion pouring from Plant, and you don’t even need to necessarily know exactly what he’s singing about to understand the energy it conveys. A crooning that melds the realms of urgency, seduction, and sadness into a timeless near-tangibility.