Arthur C Clarke’s novel Childhoods End was the inspiration for the cover of Led Zeppelin’s,
”Houses of the Holy” album, released on March 28, 1973. At the end of the novel all the
children gather, waiting to be taken into space. The photography for the album sleeve (above)
was done by Aubrey Powell. The photo was taken at Devil’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
The narrative arc of this song – that story told by the music – extends far beyond the lyrics. Watch Jimmy Plant, Robert Page and John Paul Jones of
Led Zeppelin below as they hear a courageous new arrangement of their song crescendo during the Kennedy Center Honors.
Not seen in this video: the song was introduced by President Obama.
Yes, I’m aware that Zeppelin has been accused in court of stealing the melody of this song from Randy California, the guitarist for the band Spirit. Randy feels his band deserves a songwriting credit and several million dollars. I’ve listened to the Spirit song in question and I’m not sure I agree with Randy. There are overlaps in musical contour, to be sure, but is it at all the same song? Listen for yourself. Every artist is influenced by every other artist they experience. None of us is an island. So where, exactly, do we draw the line between “influenced by” and “stole from”? The courts are facing a difficult task, to be sure. I’m glad I’m not a judge.