Is Ten Years Gone Led Zeppelin’s Greatest Riff?

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Voted number 9 in a Rolling Stone readers poll of the best Led Zeppelin songs, “Ten Years Gone” is definitely one of the band’s most epic tracks from it’s most epic album, Physical Graffitti. Clocking in at 6 minutes and 55 seconds and comprised of 14 layered guitar tracks, the song was a beast for the band to play live. It required bass player and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones to play a 3 necked guitar while covering the bass parts with bass pedals.

Jimmy Page had written the different sections of the song and put it together thinking that it would be an instrumental but Robert Plant came up thoughtful lyrics about a relationship that ended before Led Zeppelin began


Robert Plant wrote the lyrics about a girlfriend who made him choose between her and his music 10 years earlier. She got the boot. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine (March 13, 1975) the interviewer, Cameron Crowe, asked Robert Plant what gambles he had taken. Plant replied: “Let me tell you a little story behind the song ‘Ten Years Gone’ on our new album. I was working my ass off before joining Zeppelin. A lady I really dearly loved said, ‘Right. It’s me or your fans.’ Not that I had fans, but I said, ‘I can’t stop, I’ve got to keep going.’ She’s quite content these days, I imagine. She’s got a washing machine that works by itself and a little sports-car. We wouldn’t have anything to say anymore. I could probably relate to her, but she couldn’t relate to me. I’d be smiling too much. Ten years gone, I’m afraid. Anyway, there’s a gamble for you.”

Since it was such a chore to perform live the band dropped it from it’s set list in 1977 but revisited it for the Knebworth Festival in 1979.

On this week’s Wicked Riff Wednesday we pay homage to one of Led Zeppelin’s most amazing compositions and fan favorite “Ten Years Gone”.