Revolution takes place in a world with no electricity, which means no iPods, no CD players, no tape decks, no turntables. So it’s not easy for creator Eric Kripke to find ways to put his love of classic rock on display in the new hit post-apocalyptic show. But when the opportunity arose to feature Led Zeppelin in an upcoming episode, Kripke jumped at the chance and found a way to light up the show with a bit of rock and roll.
Tonight’s episode of Revolution features two songs by Led Zeppelin: 1970 slow jam “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and 1975 exotic, driving mega-hit “Kashmir,” which also lends its name to the episode’s title.
Getting the rights to Led Zeppelin songs is no easy feat: The British rock band very rarely licenses its music for use in Hollywood projects. (Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, a 2001 Cadillac commercial and this year’s Argo are among the lucky few.) But Kripke was in for a pleasant surprise when record label Warner/Chappell Music reached out to him offering to license some Zep songs for his show.
To promote Celebration Day, a live album and DVD documentary that chronicles Led Zeppelin’s 2007 reunion concert out today, Warner/Chappell – a division of Warner Music Group, which until last year was owned by Time Warner – contacted the head of music at Warner Bros. Television (currently owned by Time Warner, as is EW), asking if there would be any interest in using Led Zeppelin songs in one of their series. WB TV’s head of music immediately thought of Kripke and got him connected with Warner/Chappell.
“I could be one of the biggest Led Zeppelin fans working in television,” Kripke told EW. “So it’s such a big deal to me. I’m truly not exaggerating when I say it’s one of the high points of my career.”
Kripke first heard Led Zeppelin’s music at age eight or nine, when his older brother Matt was playing his Physical Graffiti LP. “From that point onward, I was always a huge fan,” Kripke says.
When Warner/Chappell gave Kripke the opportunity to pick the original recordings of two songs on Celebration Day for Revolution, he told the record label he hoped they saw that the songs he chose were ones that a fan would pick.
He also selected “Since I’ve Been Loving You” because it had “the right energy to match” the scene. “Kashmir,” Kripke says, captures the tone of Revolution “because it’s so epic. It’s so sweeping…. The scene where we use ‘Kashmir’ – we just blew the doors off it. We specifically chose a scene that had no dialogue.”
Last week, when the showrunner first watched a cut of the episode with the music mixed in, “we just cranked [the scene with ‘Kashmir’] so loud on those awesome mix stage speakers where you can really feel the bass,” Kripke said. “It’s a little surreal to have something happen that you’ve been wanting that much but was so sure would never happen.”
Creating a piece of entertainment backed by the music of Led Zeppelin is a dream Kripke’s had since he started working in the industry. Zeppelin has had a constant presence in his first TV show, Supernatural – several episodes took their titles from Zeppelin song names or lyrics, main character Dean Winchester’s two favorite songs are “Ramble On” and “Travelling Riverside Blues,” and the Winchester brothers often give a nod to the band members when in disguise, introducing themselves as Agents Page and Plant – but the show has never gotten the rights to use a song by the band.
“I’ve been hearing from some of my esteemed colleagues over at Supernatural, and I think that they’re all biting their fists with jealousy,” Kripke said. He did mention Supernatural to Warner/Chappell during conversations about licensing the Led Zeppelin songs. “I would have loved to put Led Zeppelin in there as well,” he said, “but honestly, I will take what I can get… I think they very rationally said, ‘Let’s just focus on one show at a time.’”
The Led Zeppelin tracks in tonight’s episode will be the third and fourth recorded songs on the show. Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” made a brief appearance in the third episode (which also took its title, “No Quarter,” from a Led Zeppelin song), and the pilot featured Miles and Bass blasting AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” in Miles’ muscle car before all power sputtered out the world over. Kripke and fellow executive producer Jon Favreau, who directed Revolution’s pilot, figured it was probably good luck to include a song by the Australian hard rock band in the show’s first episode since Supernatural and Favreau’s Iron Man had succeeded with liberal use of AC/DC songs.
One other 1970s song almost made it into the show. An early version of the pilot script included a scene when Rachel sings Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” to young Charlie. Revolution’s producers were able to secure the rights to the song, but ultimately revisions of the scene meant the song no longer fit in. “But maybe one day we’ll get it in there,” Kripke said.
The showrunner doesn’t see there being as many logical opportunities to incorporate classic rock into Revolution as there have been on Supernatural, but that doesn’t mean tonight’s episode is the last time viewers will hear beloved songs accompanying the cross-country adventures of Miles, Charlie, Aaron and Nora.
“Finding ways to do it is challenging,” Kripke said, “but that said, there’s always ways to sneak it in.”
Below, check out the extended promo for tonight’s Revolution, backed by the epic sounds of “Kashmir.” The episode, helmed by 12-time Supernatural director Charles Beeson, airs at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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