“Friends” is the second track from the 1970 album Led Zeppelin III, the third studio album of English rock band Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant wrote the song in 1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, a small cottage in Wales where they stayed after completing a grueling concert tour of the United States.
The song starts out with a little noodling and studio chatter. Peter Grant’s voice can be heard in the background, of the right channel, before the guitars of Jimmy Page kick in. The guitar tuning for the song is an open-C6 chord (C-A-C-G-C-E). The same tuning was used by Page on the songs “Bron-Yr-Aur” and “Poor Tom”, which were recorded during these same sessions. Page used an Altair Tube Limiter to enhance the acoustic quality of his Harmony guitar, a device recommended to him by acoustic guitarist Dick Rosemenie. This same device was later used by Page on “All My Love”, which was included on Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door album.
“Friends” is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs that includes strings. Bass player John Paul Jones did the string arrangement. Jones, however, received no writing credit for this song despite being entirely responsible for its string arrangement.
The outro to “Friends” includes a Moog synthesizer, which provides a link to the next track on the album, “Celebration Day”. The only known live performance of the song by Led Zeppelin was on 29 September 1971 in Osaka, during the band’s Japanese concert tour, as exhibited on a number of Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings of the show. If listened to closely, Page can be heard asking Plant if he wanted to perform the song when John Bonham had returned from unknown activities backstage.