Led Zeppelin II

All transcriptions taken from Jeff Lybarger's Song of the Day Webpage!

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LZ IV

 

"Whole Lotta Love"
I’ve been sitting here at my keyboard pondering exactly how to begin writing about this next song. I don’t know if there are enough superlatives in the world to capsulize it and I know that nobody has the patience for me to expound on the many varying versions of said song, as it transformed itself over the years into one of their most impressive live numbers and has thrilled audiences for decades.

Suffice to say that this is a song that, in many minds, spawned the term “Heavy Metal,” something that never properly described Zeppelin and a term they detested vehemently, yet it also took them as a group from being a band of great promise to putting them on the proverbial rock & roll map.

It is a song of lust – pure and simple – and it even has an orgasm right smack dab in the middle of it! And with that said, everyone knows the song of which I am referring to. So, whip out your Brown Bomber {“Led Zeppelin II”} and drop the needle on track one, clocking in at just 5:33, the massive and enduring epic, “Whole Lotta Love.”

Some say the beginning is Robert coughing… and if that’s the case then Led Zeppelin has to hold the record for most songs with recorded coughing on them. To my ears it sounds like a laugh. Like somebody made a funny face or did something behind the glass of the control room and Robert just couldn’t contain himself.

But… what do I know? I know this much… the next sound you hear is only one of the most famous riffs in rock & roll history. This song came out over 42 years ago and is as famous today as it ever was. Jimmy’s riff is simple to play… but it’s the attitude and the groove that he coaxes out of his guitar that make this simple riff so legendary and timeless.

Allegedly Jimmy played this on his Telecaster, and as a guitarist and one who owns a Tele {Telecaster Plus circa 1991} I like the fact that one of the most renowned songs in rock history was played on a guitar that many associate with country music. There’s great humor in there but it’s also a great testament to just how wonderful and versatile the Tele is as a guitar.

Soon after Jimmy’s riff, doubled by John Paul’s bass, which really adds a tremendous amount of thickness to the overall sound and gives this riff an added oomph, Robert enters the picture.

You need coolin’
Baby I’m not foolin’
I’m gonna send ya
Back to schoolin’
Way down inside
Honey you need it
I’m gonna give you my love
I’m gonna give you my love


On the second “my” Bonzo joins in and his drums sound like a lumberjack climbing up a flight of stairs.

Oh - wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love


Page adds some pick slides down the guitar neck for an added effect and it sounds like this section might also employ the use of backwards echo as well, something Page used a lot of on this particular song. With Bonham’s furious pounding, the song trudges on as Robert uses more sexual innuendo in his lyrical delivery.

You’ve been learnin’
Baby I been learnin’
All them good times
Baby, baby I been ah yearnin’
Way-way down inside
Ah honey you need ah…
I'm gonna give you my love -
ah I'm gonna give you my love -
ah Oh - whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love

And now we reach the famous middle section. If this were released today, in 2011, it would probably raise a few eyebrows, but coming out in 1969… this had to freak a lot of people out!

Bonzo keeps a steady groove going on the high-hat with the occasional cymbal being used for dramatic effect. It also sounds like he overdubbed drums through this section and they sound distinctly like he’s playing with his bare hands; something he would do in “Moby Dick” quite often.

Then Jimmy brings out all the guns; guitars, the Theremin, echo, as Bonham keeps a steady beat and Robert enters into his orgasmic faze. There is just so much going on in this section that to describe it is nearly impossible. It simply must be heard to be believed. As Eddie Kramer, the engineer on the album said: “The famous Whole Lotta Love mix, where everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man.”

The result is pure brilliance! I will never forget playing this in my room when I was all of 13 years young; the stereo cranked up, my mother running into my room, a look of absolute horror on her face. She was aghast, but to me, it was musical heaven.

Jimmy’s Theremin gets a good workout here and at the time, none of us – me, or my friends – could figure out what the heck he was doing or using to get those sounds. It wasn’t until “The Song Remains The Same” began its run at the Midnight Movies that we finally learned how he did it, though none of us had a clue as to what that box was!

Bonham plays with the skill of a jazz drummer throughout this entire segment, adding little fills here and there, but never treading on Page or Plant.

Finally we hear Bonham announce his presence with a mighty roar and then Page rips into another of his famous solos. The bass and drums play a start/stop pattern and Page answers with notes flying from the neck of his guitar in a call and response that rivals anything in rock history.

Jimmy’s playing here is so perfect. He emphasizes certain notes; the bent note at 3:14 is superb, as he squeezes every ounce of emotion from them as was humanly possible until he reaches for the high notes at the end of the solo and Robert reenters.

You’ve been coolin’
Baby I’ve been droolin’
All the good times
Baby I’ve been misusing
Way-way down inside
I’m gonna give you my love
I’m gonna give you every inch of my love
Gonna give you my love
Yes – alright, let’s go
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love
Wanna whole lotta love


Now we reach the section where we get a happy accident. Eddie Kramer has explained that the vocal you hear in the back ground is actually bleeding from a previous take, and since they couldn’t record over it, he just added echo to it and Page loved it and said: “Great! Just leave it!”

Way down inside
Woman!
You need it
Love…

As Robert carries “love” out, showing his extreme vocal prowess, Bonzo kicks into that massive drum pattern and Page reenters with the main riff, the entire final minute plus of the song is basically a jazz-inspired free-form section for the band and Robert to just go off. Bonzo plays some amazing drums throughout the end and Plant’s voice is just deliciously erotic. There’s tons of stereo panning going on until the song quickly fades out leaving you, the listener, looking for a cigarette and a drink.

When the album was released radio stations felt that the middle section was unfit for air-play – imagine that! So they simply went in and created their own edited down version… and what shocks me about this is that they got away with it! Why did Peter Grant not take action? After all, editing a song that they had no copyrights to equates to copyright infringement, yes?

Of course, the song itself is a copyright infringement, lyrically, anyway. Robert “borrows” {ahem} from the Willie Dixon penned version recorded by Muddy Waters and also gets extremely close to Steve Marriott’s version from The Small Faces version titled “You Need Loving.”

This just gets too confusing after a while so I’ll try to make it simple for anyone reading this; Plant later admitted he “nicked” the lyrics, Zeppelin settled with Dixon out of court and yet, everybody agrees that Zeppelin’s “take” on this song is the be-all/end-all of all the versions. Whew. Now I need a cigarette. And a drink!

In the end, Atlantic Records, Zeppelin’s label, released an edited down version for the American radio stations. The edited versions, sans the orgasmic mid-section, clocked in at 3:10 and was, obviously, a huge hit. In the UK however, Zeppelin refused to cater to the BBC and never released a single in their home country.

Once it found its way into the set-list, which was on the second US tour in April 1969 – some six months before the album was released – it was a staple in every live show from that point on. It’s position in the set-list changed from time to time, sometimes used as a closing number, other times as an encore, and at times as an encore medley with “Black Dog” {1975} and “Rock & Roll” {1977}. In 1979 it was given a new arrangement but on the 1980 Over Europe Tour it was restored to its previous version from the 1973 era.

Over the course of their touring years, there were a plethora of other songs included within “Whole Lotta Love” and it also has a very odd distinction to it; this was the final song that Led Zeppelin played in front of an audience as it was the last song performed on 7 July 1980 in Berlin.

Live versions were typically long and featured Page’s use of the aforementioned Theremin. Even though it looks like an old radio with just an antennae sticking out of it, the sounds Jimmy can coax out of this device are always fascinating.

Many extended jams arose during the performances of this song and this is one I never minded being so lengthy because the ability of the band to take the basic structure of this song and go to places never before imagined, and many times, never again repeated, was continually enthralling.

In 1985, at Live Aid, Page/Plant/Jones reunited with help from Plant’s solo bassist Paul Martinez and both Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums and they played the edited down version in front of the world. Sadly, there were no rehearsals with all of the musicians and the Live Aid show, while exciting to see Page/Plant/Jones together again, was an unmitigated disaster for anyone who knew the true power and majesty of Led Zeppelin.

As bad as Live Aid was, just three short years later at Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary party, things were even worse. Jonsey’s keyboards were lost in the television broadcast, rendering “Kashmir” nothing more than a demo-esque version, “Heartbreaker” was just a total failure and “Whole Lotta Love,” which was back to its Knebworth-style form, wasn’t much better. Jimmy included a cool riff that had been around since 1979, a riff that he would use on the Outrider Tour, but even that couldn’t save the Atlantic Records show.

In 1993, while on tour in Japan with David Coverdale, on their final date, which was 22 December 1993, Jimmy was using his Theremin routine during “Shake My Tree” as he had on the previous six dates, when the band suddenly kicked into “Whole Lotta Love.” Jimmy continued with his Theremin solo as Coverdale shouted out “Keep a coolin’ baby” and eventually Jimmy kicked into the main riff. The result was a totally off the cuff run through of the epic Zeppelin song and Coverdale seemed to love every second of it.

When they reached the section where the vocals are sung Acapella, after Coverdale belted out “looooooooooovvvvvvvveeeee” Jimmy kicked back into “Shake My Tree.” Coverdale then said at the conclusion of the song: “Nice one JP. Sneaky bastard!”

Following the song the band left the stage prior to their first encore and when they returned, Coverdale told the crowd that this was a complete surprise to him as well as Jimmy. Despite the shock factor, Coverdale nailed the lyrics perfectly.

Also in 1993 Robert re-recorded this track with Rainer Ptacek, as was mentioned in a previous SOTD. With Rainer playing acoustic slide guitar and Robert playing harmonica and singing in a very raw, emotional manner, this version is one that is a must have for any Zeppelin fan. It is one of their hardest rocking songs taken back to its bluesy roots and the bond between Plant and Ptacek is quite noticeable on the recording. This version clocks in at 3:29 and was only available, as far as I know, as the second track on the “29 Palms” CD single.

Edit: I just did a check on Amazon and I see that they have the Japanese CD single available that contains the following songs: 1: “29 Palms” 2: “21 Years” 3: “Dark Moon” 4: “Whole Lotta Love.” They are selling it for less than seven bucks, which is an absolute steal for what you would receive and three of those songs are Robert with Rainer, and again, I must emphasize that you will love hearing Plant with this amazing guitarist.

On the 1995/96 and 1998 Page/Plant tours, “Whole Lotta Love” was once again brought out and this time Jimmy had a new toy; the Gibson Les Paul Gold Top that he first used on the Coverdale/Page project, which had the Transperformance Unit installed, essentially allowing him to store several hundred tunings into the guitar and change the tuning with the switch of a button.

During the Page/Plant versions he would use the Transperformance device to alter tunings and then he would get into his Theremin routine.

When Jimmy toured with The Black Crowes he played this number then as well, still using the Gold, Transperformance Les Paul.

In 2008, at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Jimmy was used in the closing ceremony with female singer Leona Lewis and they performed a version of this as well. Although I’ve never heard of her, apparently she’s famous all over the world. Perhaps I need to venture out more! But… it was good to see Jimmy on a truly national stage playing one of his biggest hits. It was also a bit humorous to me… some 40 years prior the song was too risqué for radio, but now it’s being played at the Olympics!

“Whole Lotta Love” has been a long-time fan favorite and has enjoyed much success and been performed by so many artists I won’t even begin to try and list them all here. But, one notable moment for it outside of Zeppelin was during the 1970’s and 80’s when it was used as the theme song for the British television program “Top Of The Pops.”

And lastly, in 2007 at the O2 reunion gig with Jason Bonham, this was of course one of the songs implemented. The performance was one of the evening’s highlights, and the first encore, as Jimmy worked the Theremin for all it was worth and Plant was in top shape vocally, providing some amazing moans and his typical “Ooh-Ooh” bits. He even hinted at the old “Let that boy boogie” section. Jason was outstanding as well, providing some thrilling beats throughout the entire song and particularly during the “middle section.”

In the 2009 movie “It Might Get Loud,” Jimmy played this song for Jack White and The Edge and the look on their faces was priceless to say the least, especially The Edge, who looked like any typical, star-struck fan in the presence of a legend as big as Jimmy Page.

“Whole Lotta Love” was written nearly 43 years ago and still stands today as one of the most defining hard rock songs of all time. It has been voted as one of the top songs in numerous magazines over the years and my feeling is that it will continue to live on for many years to come. It is a timeless classic and one of the top songs in the Led Zeppelin catalog.

Until the next time, keep a-coolin’…

"What Is And What Sould Never Be"
This evenings little gem comes to us via the "Brown Bomber", Led Zeppelin II, track 2, clocking in at 4:47, "What Is And What Sould Never Be"

. ..."And if I say to you tomorrow...

take my hand child come with me

it's to a castle I will take you....

what's to be they say will be

What an opening to a song. The soft music and the fantasy lyrics instantly transport us to a dream-like state. There are a lot of people who would pay good money to feel like this, and Zeppelin takes us there in song. The lazy (in a good way) feel of this tune, that "everything is cool" atmosphere, the way the thing just GLIDES off of the disc and into our ears, so difficult to achieve and yet they make it seem so simple.

Considering this track follows "WLL" where we feel like we're in the middle of the Hindenburg crash with that wild mid section makes this all the more amazing. Jimmy lays back and plays so delicately as Robert weaves this tale of love and castles, and then Bonham just explodes into the chorus, and just as quickly, we're back to dream land. Jimmy plays a beautiful slide solo before yet another lift off.

Classic Zeppelin, the "light and shade" Jimmy always refers to. Robert really shines vocally and lyrically, hard to believe this was one of his first attempts at song writing. It is also the first of the "fantasy, Tolkien" type songs. Up to now the lyrics dealt with love, relationships, sex, broken hearts etc. And though the reference is short, it's like a prelude of things to come. Castles, Tolkien, Misty mountains, these and other references would find their way into Roberts words, but the seed was planted here.

As we wind and glide our way along we come to the famous "echo" section. Jimmy in the studio doing a rather simple thing, using stereo to it's full effect, but the impression has lasted over all these years. That simple riff: Duhnant, Duhnant then bouncing to the other speaker: Duhnant, Duhnant. Then full frontal assault: Duh na na nant. Please forgive the really wretched way of trying to TYPE Jimmy's riff, but you know what I mean here.

The outro has Robert adlibbing all over the place while the band just wails behind him. Riffs spew to and fro and capture the essence of how good they were at just jamming within the framework of a song, yet still stretching the boundaries.

Interestingly, this song was played at the "UnLeded" shows and left off the "No Quarter" disc. I've got a copy on a single for "Gallows Pole", and they do a very nice version. In Zep this song was only played live for a few years, mainly late ' 69 U.S. up to June of ' 72. If they had played EVERYTHING though, the shows would have been about eight hours long, of course we wouldn't have complained. This is another example of Zeps diversity, mellow, rocking, light, shade, it finds the band hitting another of those peaks they seemed to hit whenever they felt like it.

"The Lemon Song"
During their reign as rocks premier band, Led Zeppelin was in the enviable position of being untouchable. No other band at the time could stand with them, no other band could sell as many concert tickets as they did, nor as quickly as they did. When a new album was announced it would instantly sell over one million copies on advanced orders alone. Think about that; before even hearing a single note of music, over one million copies would be spoken for. Utterly amazing.

Yet Zeppelin was also haunted during this time. The dark shadow that followed them from the very first album was the knowledge that the group were known to borrow, quite liberally, from a multitude of musical influences, and yet, call it their own. Be it Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, You Shook Me, Whole Lotta Love, Black Mountain Side, When The Levee Breaks, Dazed & Confused, or even the intro to Stairway To Heaven, there was a fairly consistent pattern within the group, mainly from Robert Plant, but to a lesser degree Jimmy Page as well, taking the ideas of other artists and claiming it as an original idea.

The funny thing, or perhaps, ironic thing, is the fact that when Zeppelin did use another musicians lyric or music, they did, in their own way, place their own stamp on it, and a lot of times theirs was better than the original. Today we take a look back at one such moment, from the ever popular Led Zeppelin II album, track three, clocking in at 6:20, The Lemon Song.

Where does one begin when listing the influences on this song? I guess you would start with Howlin’ Wolf, whose song Killing Floor was the original seed for this Zeppelin track. There are also shades of Lightning Slim and Albert King as well as the now famous tip of the hat to blues legend Robert Johnson. And while this track was never remotely close to being an original idea, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Just listen to the tone of Jimmy’s growling Les Paul during the intro; it’s at once dirty and supercharged, haunting yet uplifting, seductive and sexy, and magnetic as it pulls you, the listener, in for an up close assault.

John Bonham enters with a simple beat, sort of lazy and laid back, and then Plant enters the arena:

I should have quit you baby
A long time ago
Oooh oh ah yeah yeaaahhh
Long time ago…
I wouldn’t be here, my children…
Down on this killin’ floor
I should have listened baby
To my second mind
Oh! I should have listened baby
To my second mind
Every time I go away and leave you darling
You send me the blues way down the line…
No!

It’s right here, at the 1:28 mark, that everything changes. Bonham, Jones and Page just explode into a roaring train of blues barreling down a distant Delta-drenched railway. Jimmy’s lead guitar work is really beautiful and fluid. Recording with a Gibson Les Paul beginning with this album, he shows off all the abilities of the guitar in the hands of a master.

Then, just as quickly, they settle back into the lazy groove that began things, with Plant moaning and pleading to his girl. It never ceases to amaze me how easily Plant garbles his way through this next section. Perhaps garble is too harsh of an explanation for what Plant does here; but his at times fast use of the word baby almost defies logic; b-ba-baby, and yet, as quickly as this flies by, we understand him perfectly and he sings it with soul! Quite the accomplishment.

Now take it down a bit…
People tell me baby, can’t be satisfied
Try to worry me b-ba-baby bit I’d never end up
Guilt-chewing myself
People worry baby, I can’t keep you satisfied
Uh let me tell you baby, ah you ain’t nothing’ but a
Two-bit, no good jive…

The story of Led Zeppelin was the simple fact that they had four, equally talented musicians in the group. Page’s legacy in the annals of rock history has been secured for his writing, his riffs, his creative ideas and production techniques as well as his mysterious stage presence. Plant has been called by just about everybody the ultimate rock vocalist, as well as one of the most sexual lead singers ever. John Bonham has been rightly placed among the elite of drummers for his dynamic ability and his keen sense of timing. Sadly, the most talented member of this powerful foursome is often the most overlooked; John Paul Jones. The many talents of Jonesy include; bass, keyboard/piano, mandolin, acoustic guitar, songwriter, producer, arranger, session musician, programmer, vocalist and one mean chess player!

During this quiet section of the Lemon Song it is Jonesy that shines. Page adds some sonic textures and blues licks here and there, but the flowing bass work of John Paul keeps the train on the tracks. I can just picture Jonesy and Bonham during the recording of this track during this section; Bonham keeping the beat with a softer touch and Jonesy probably having a conversation with him while doing all this! That scene from The Song Remains The Same where you see the rhythm section of Led Zeppelin acting as if they are waiting at the corner for the bus while holding down the bottom end as Page/Plant do their thing always hits me right in the chest! They were so good at what they did that they could do these things on auto pilot. Just complete and total second nature. Yet, while doing this they are also laying down one groovy piece of music!

I went to sleep last night
I work as hard as I can
I bring home my money
You take my money give it to another man
I should have quit you baby
Oh such a long time ago-oh
I wouldn’t be here with all my troubles
Down on this killin’ floor
Squeeze me babe, till the juice runs down my leg
Ooh squeeze; squeeze me baby, until the juice runs down my leg
The way you squeeze my lemon ah
I’m gonna fall right of bed, bed, bed, bed yeah

Jimmy digs into some very soulful lead playing here while Jonesy and Bonzo pace the action with their deft touch. This leads into a blues trademark; the call and response section. Robert yells out Hey! And Jimmy answers with a lick on the guitar that mimics Robert. This is right out of the classic blues bible and early on in Zeppelin, quite a staple of their repertoire.

At 5:36 the rumbling train picks up speed again and the race is on. A fast and furious finish which concludes with Plant yelling out, down on this killin’ floor, floor, floor… A clever studio touch of echo adds to the dramatic conclusion.

This is a song that Zeppelin had from the beginning days of the band. The initial version was the popularly known Howlin’ Wolf track, Killing Floor, though it would eventually evolve into The Lemon Song. And what of the lemon? This is taken from the Robert Johnson song Travelin’ Riverside Blues. (Hmmm…anybody notice a pattern here?) In Robert (’s) (Johnson) song, the lyrics are as such:

Now you can squeeze my lemon till the juice run down my…
(spoken) till the juice runs down my leg, baby, you know what I’m talking about

Killing Floor was also performed by the legendary Jimi Hendrix, though his version was a much faster take. To say that Zeppelin borrowed from the blues masters would be an understatement. To say that they took these seeds and created their own magic with them would be a gross understatement as well. Zeppelin may have begged, borrowed and stole, but by God, they did so with flair and panache. One could also say they were simply turning American audiences on to the origins of rock music, and that would be accurate too.

The infamous lemon would also become somewhat of a staple in Plant’s career. Though Zeppelin stopped performing the song sometime in late 1969, the squeeze my lemon lyric would find its way into many live versions of Whole Lotta Love for years to come, as well as other bits and pieces.

Proving that he had a wonderful sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself, Plant was also seen in the video for In The Mood from his 1983 release, The Principle Of Moments, holding a lemon with a sly, mischievous smile on his face as the camera panned by.

During their career, and even long after the demise of Led Zeppelin, the group took a lot of heat from fellow musicians about their penchant for calling another’s ideas their own. While some would undoubtedly frown upon anyone for doing this, I personally never had a problem with it. I look at it this way; if Zeppelin had never borrowed, look at all the great music we would have missed. As well as the songs mentioned above there are quite a few others I didn’t mention. The Zeppelin catalog would be rather lacking if we took away all these songs that originated elsewhere. Combine that with the fact that they did have plenty of great original music to offer and I for one am quick to forgive.

If you consider yourself a blues aficionado then you are already familiar with the legends and masters of that genre of musical style. If, however, your musical knowledge only extends back to 1968, then allowing Led Zeppelin to be your guide through a blues history lesson is not a bad place to start at all.

Squeeze me babe…

"Thank You"
Today I thought we would take a look at the first song that Robert wrote lyrics for, or so he has said. A simple song really, a sweet song, an intense song, a song, of love. From the Zeppelin II album, track four, clocking in at 4:46, "Thank You".

Jimmy begins things with a very delicate guitar passage, setting the mood for one of Zeppelin's more personal musical statements. As Bonzo and Jonsey enter, the song kicks in a little, just before Robert gives us these beautiful lines:

"If the sun refused to shine,
I would still be loving you...
When mountains crumble to the sea,
There would still be you and me...

Kind woman I give you my all,
kind woman, nothing more...

Little drops of rain,
whisper of the pain...
tears of loves lost in the days gone by,
My love is strong,
with you there is no wrong...
together we shall go until we die,

Inspiration's what you are to me,
Inspiration... look... see...


Wow, what do you say after that? Absolutely beautiful. First song he ever wrote words for? Oh man. The passion in his voice is real, the words flow from the heart, the music, in this case, almost an afterthought. You almost don't notice it, because the words speak volumes, and you the listener are so caught up in those words. But then, just as a subtle reminder, Jimmy kicks in with a very beautifully executed acoustic solo. And then we are swept away in the music, almost forgetting the lyrics, Jimmy reaches for, and hits notes that ring out of true happiness, almost a "sigh" of relief, yes, finally, love has found it's way to my heart.

Perhaps that doesn't happen to you, but I'll never forget that feeling when I first heard this song. And it continues to make me feel this way, so many years down the road. Bonham is so good here, laying back for the most part, but when he explodes, man the dynamics are awesome. And what about Jonsey? That subtle and mellow organ work keeps everything right in place. He never steps on Robert's toes here, just adding to the beauty of the song, like the genius that he is.

"And so today my world it smiles,
your hand in mind...
we walk the miles,
Thanks to you, it will be done,
For you to me are the only one...

Happiness, no more being sad,
Happiness, I'm glad...

If the sun refused to shine,
I would still be loving you...
Mountain's crumble to the sea,
There would still be you... and me..."


Ahhhh, is that not one of the most beautiful songs you've ever heard? The outro shows that arranger side of Jonsey, the music drifting away, slowly, hypnotically, till it fades out completely, then re-enters in the last few seconds with a glorious return. How many DJ's were fooled by that ending do you think?

"Thank You" is Robert's song to his wife at the time, Maureen, and what a statement it was. All four members of the group contribute heavily to this song, making it one of their many timeless classics. Consider where it appears on the album for a moment, following "Lemon Song", and three songs after the ultimate sex song, "Whole Lotta Love", to drop this tender ballad in took some guts, but what perfect placement.

Performed live first in the UK in 1970, then remaining in the set throughout the 1970-1973 shows, this was a highlight featuring Jonsey's keyboard solo's. Why they dropped it after that is anybody's guess. Most likely "No Quarter" took it's place. Jimmy and Robert revived it on the "Unleded" tour, and they changed it a bit, Jimmy playing the Gibson, and taking two solo's, this song was always a treat at their shows. They opened with it here in Kansas City, and it was quite an emotional moment, to say the least.

A very deep and personal statement from Led-Zeppelin, Robert in particular. Very inspiring, very touching, as usual, just what we have come to expect from them. Check it out, won't you. I feel like playing my guitar now...

Rock on,

"Heartbreaker"
Anyway, let's get to the reason I'm writing this and the reason you're reading it. This morning has a kind of Zep II feel to it, so off we go, Led Zeppelin II, track 5, clocking in at 4:15, "Heartbreaker".

I can vividly recall the very first time I heard this song. That riff. That cool riff. One of the first guitar parts I learned to play. (Yeah, I thought I was cool). Jimmy steps out and delivers one of rocks all time great guitar moments. It just grooves along and builds, Bonham and Jonsey right there with him, and then Robert enters the picture with a tale of Annie, who sounds like a pretty tough girl.

"Hey fellas have you heard the news
ya know that Annie's back in town
it won't take long just watch and see
all the fellas lay their money down
Her style is new but the face the same
as it was so long ago
But from her eyes a different smile
like that of one who knows"


During the verse sections Jimmy, John and Jonsey are in one of those tight but loose grooves, as Robert soars above with the vocals. DUHN DUHN, DUHN DUHN, DUHN DUHN, and then back to that riff. As the second verse kicks in Robert spins a personal note on the lyrics, stating that ten years and maybe more have passed since first he laid eyes on miss Annie. Then the gem of this song lyrically comes out:

"...One thing I do have on my mind
and if you can clarify please do
It's the way you call me another guys name
when I try to make love to you,
yeah
I try to make love...
Ah give it to me, give it..."


Do you laugh or cry at that? Picturing Robert in the act and some girl calling him, oh, let's say, "David" (OOH) you can just picture the look on his face! Laugh? or cry? Anyway, this leads us to Jimmy's solo. Much has been said, good and bad, about this solo, but make no mistake, in 1969 this was consider awesome. If you compare this to some of the ' 80's guitarists it would be considered sloppy. But Jimmy marches to a different drummer. The intensity in this solo blows away almost any guitar acapella piece ever played. THAT is what separates Jimmy from the rest. Something else that Jimmy likes to do is play his solo's off the cuff, unrehearsed and unplanned, something the "whiz kids" would never dream of. One way to look at this, the last thing Robert has said is that (Annie) calls him by another guys name when being intimate, so maybe, just maybe Jimmy is going for THAT emotion, that feeling of frustration, anger, hurt, and when a person feels that way they usually don't give a hoot about being "perfect", they're just looking to release the tension. And if you take that approach, Jimmy succeeds beautifully.

Live he always tried to do it differently, and sometimes it didn't work, but, when it did, it was so special. Another key ingredient in what made Led Zeppelin what they were, they always took a chance. Better to fail than not try at all. And why the wanna-be's never got it right. When you worry about perfection, you sacrifice emotion.

From there the song kicks back in and they rock it out, classic Zeppelin. A song credited to all four members as songwriters. One interesting note on the solo, it was recorded at a totally different time and studio than the song. In a "Guitar World" December 1993 interview with Jimmy, the interviewer notes that the guitar on the solo is actually tuned slightly higher than the song. Jimmy's response: "The pitch is off as well? I didn't know that." (Laughing)

 A live staple in Zeps sets, starting off as second song of the night following "Immigrant Song", then moving to encore status, then in a medley with "Whole Lotta Love", then back to encore. This was also played at the Atlantic Records 40th party, and that's all we'll say about that performance. Jimmy and Robert played this on their tour as well, usually second or third song of the set. A song that has stood the test of time, and still played on the radio all the time, with "Living Loving Maid" always being tagged on. Hey, at least when they play "Heartbreaker" on the radio you know you're getting two Zep songs. So enjoy today's look back, and crank up the second album and get your heart broken. Till tomorrow...

Rock on,

"Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)"
…with a purple umbrella
and a fifty cent hat


That’s all you need to read and automatically that riff jumps into your head. Amazing, isn’t it? Propel yourself back in time to that innocent era of peace, love, and the feeling that the people could change the world for the better. A time for dreamers and doers, for speaking out against the establishment, for standing up for what you believe in, for large open-air concerts where drugs and sex were rampant and readily available. The year is 1969, the album is Led-Zeppelin II, and the destination is track two on side two, clocking in at 2:39… Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman).

Within the first 10 seconds the master, Jimmy Page, pulls you out of your world, and right into the universe known as Led-Zeppelin; the acapella vocal intro by Robert which is brief and is quickly joined by John Bonham’s furious beat. The song has an energy, a pent up emotion that seems to burst out from your speakers. Then that riff by Page, punctuated during the “…living…loving” section with accented stabs on the Telecaster.

The most bizarre thing about this song for me is the fact that none of the band actually liked this song. What? Are you kidding me? This song is a great treasure. Plant is in perfect form, the band is tight, and the riff stays in your head long after you’ve heard it, it’s catchy and you can sing along to it. What’s not to like? …

Missus Cool rides out
in her aged Cadillac
Living…Loving… She’s just a woman…
Come on babe on the roundabout
Ride on the merry-go-‘round
We all know what your name is…
So you better lay your money down…


The chorus section is just hot! John Bonham plays some simple licks here, but the drums break things up so perfectly leading us back to the main verse. It’s the subtlety of Bonham that stands out; the little things he does and what he doesn’t play. There is the briefest of pauses at 0:25 that never fails to shake my senses. That pause…that p-a-u-s-e is what makes John Bonham the premiere drummer in my book. It is such a little thing that most probably don’t even notice it. But it subconsciously pulls you in, begging for more.

Alimony, alimony… paying your bills
Living…Loving… She’s just a woman
When your conscience hits you
Knock it back with pills
Living…Loving…She’s just a woman


The second run through the chorus reveals another specialty of the John Bonham style; he doesn’t play the same thing here that he played the first time. Sounds simple enough, yes? But if you asked 100 drummers to play this song, 99 would play the chorus exactly the same way every time. Not Bonham. Another reason why he is that once-in-a-lifetime drummer. He never did things the easy way. He challenged himself continually, and in the process pushed the band to greater heights.

Tellin’ tall tales of how it used to be
Living… Loving…She’s just a woman
With the butler and the maid, and the servants three
Living…Loving…(Ah hit it now…hit it)


Then Jimmy delivers a beautiful guitar solo that is short, yet very sweet. Showing the influence of the blues Jimmy extends a couple of bent notes that hang in the air and then tears into an ascending run that gets louder and louder and dives right into a pumping, driving rhythm that leads back to another verse.

Nobody hears a single word you say
Living…Loving…She’s just a woman
But you keep on talking ‘til your dying day
Living…Loving…She’s just a woman


Then another chorus and yet another example of Bonham constantly changing things up. The band tears into the driving music again and suddenly…it’s over. Two minutes and 39 seconds of pure magic. It still amazes me that Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones never cared for this track. The ironic thing is, their fans loved it. Though this song was never performed in a live setting by Zeppelin it has had a long, glorious history on the radio. It reached the 65th spot on Billboard and has received as much as airplay as another Zeppelin classic; Heartbreaker. The reason for this is a good story too. When Led-Zeppelin II was released disc jockeys were actually spinning records, and the break between Heartbreaker and Living Loving Maid was so short, that rebellious DJ’s simply let the record play. For years, many Zeppelin fans thought of these two songs as one, because you never heard Heartbreaker without hearing Living Loving Maid.

In Kansas City, the classic rock radio station KYYS, also known as KY-102, headed up by Hall Of Fame member Max Floyd, used to have a feature every Tuesday called Twofer Tuesday, meaning they would play not one, but two songs by every artist that day. In the event listeners were to only hear one song by any artist they could call in and win a prize. But with Zeppelin the rules were different. You always would hear three songs if one of the two was Heartbreaker. They’d play Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid and then whatever the other would be. Point is, you would actually get a Threefer Tuesday when it was concerning the mighty Zep.

In 1990, on his Manic Nirvana tour, Plant actually did perform this track. Seems a shame that Zeppelin never chose to though. One possible explanation for the bands lack of appreciation for their work could be who the song has long been rumored to be about. The story has it that this was written about one of their first groupies. As Plant put it once, “An older lady who was trying desperately to be young again.”

A catchy song with a lot of familiar and classic Zeppelin trademarks, Living Loving Maid may not be a favourite of the group, but fans the world over have shown their love and appreciation for this song for over 35 years. Not a bad testament.

"Ramble On"
As I sit here at my computer looking through the vast catalog of Led Zeppelin, one thing that continually amazes me is how many classic songs they have. When I started this series some 15 years ago I had a plan in mind, an idea of how I wanted this thing to go and even how I wanted to end it all.

 And as we near the conclusion of this series I catch myself doing double-takes when I see a song that I haven’t covered yet. I go back through my notebook full of notes; search through the list of prior SOTD’s and can’t believe there are still so many great songs yet to write about. How is it possible that this one band could write and record so much amazing music? Sometimes… it just doesn’t seem fair to all the other bands out there.

And today we are going to revisit one of their greatest songs; a piece of music that was akin to a roller-coaster ride and one that marked the beginning of Plant truly finding himself as a lyricist, as well as Page laying the seeds for his idea of the “guitar army.” You might want to pull out your copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” for today’s song… and once you’re ready, pull out your copy of “Led Zeppelin II,” side two, track three, clocking in at 4:23; the majestic anthem, “Ramble On.”

An ethereal Page acoustic guitar welcomes us as we step gently into an enchanting new world. The lush acoustics are backed by Bonham playing percussion and Jonsey’s hypnotic bass work. There’s been much debate as to what exactly Bonham is doing as he lays this percussive background, but of all the “ideas” bandied about, the one that most appeals to me and sounds closest to me, is that he is playing with his bare hands on a guitar case.

Page has said in numerous interviews over the years of his vision of writing songs that go from a whisper to a scream, and this is one of the finest representations of that vision. Light. And shade. The Page trademarks are in full bloom here.

When Robert enters, his voice is soft and contemplative, a perfect reflection of what is actually being said with the lyrics.

Leaves are falling all around
Time – I was on my way
Thanks to you – I’m much obliged
Such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go

The Autumn Moon lights my way
But now I smell the rain; and with it pain
And it’s heading my way…
Ah sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I’ve got to do…
Ramble on…

An’ now the time, the time is now
Sing my song
I’m goin’ ‘round the world
I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on

Gotta find the queen of all my dreams…

Well… what can one say after that? It’s pure magic; art at its absolute finest. The music lulls you into this false sense of serenity and then it just slams you upside the head with the full brunt of semi-truck. Page was on his “A” game when he wrote this one because not only do we get the stunningly beautiful beginning, that will repeat several times throughout the song, but he then adds in an absolutely monster riff as Bonzo and Jonsey follow his lead.

And John Paul Jones… the one who never gets enough credit or enough recognition, is positively deific through this entire piece. His bass alone is such a pleasure to listen to and just adds to the perfect balance of musicianship and lyrical beauty. The connection that he and Bonham forged is never better than on this song and their contribution to this masterpiece must not be understated.

Got no time for spreading roots
The time has come to be gone…
And though our health we drank a thousand times…
It’s time to ramble on…
Ramble on…

An’ now the time, the time is now
Sing my song
I’m goin’ round the world
I got to find my girl
On my way

I’ve been this way ten years to the day
I gotta ramble on
I gotta find the queen of all my dreams…
I ain’t tell you no lies


At this point Jimmy plays a repeating phrase that is such a defining, signature lick that you could walk into any guitar store in the world, play this, and everyone would know what it is. And this lick only lasts :10 seconds. It just blows my mind that he can write this beautiful, melodic lick in the middle of a song, and yet it becomes something that is so instantly recognizable the world over.

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told
My freedom I hold dear…
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air

T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, at the evil wall*
Crept up and slipped away with her-her
Her-her…
Her, yeah…

And there ain’t nothing I can do, no
I guess I’ll keep on Ramblin’…


This is where one would typically expect a guitar solo, but Page allows Robert to free-form from here on out and the effect is quite incredible. Using multi-tracks for his vocals and massive stereo panning we see another instance where Jimmy chooses to use Plant’s voice like an actual instrument.

The entire final minute of the song is Plant singing to himself and with himself, improvising in stunning fashion as the band settles into a killer groove that many overlook because of all the vocal work going on. Late in the song Plant sings the famous, and still somewhat quirky line; “Ooh I can’t find my bluebird.”

This great song was actually never performed in concert by Zeppelin in its entirety. Which just furthers my point about the excessively long solos… how could they not play this song? There are a couple of times where parts of the song were played and/or sung in concert during other songs, but after 1970 it was never even hinted at on stage.

Fortunately when Page/Plant toured in 1995/96 and 1998, they did play this and the crowd was always very enthusiastic during its performance, most nights singing the chorus to Robert. On 10 December 2007, the reunited Led Zeppelin with Jason Bonham on drums, played a full version of the song and the following year, Page and Jones joined the Foo Fighters on stage at Wembley Stadium for an energetic run through of this number as well. Plant has also performed it on some of his solo tours.

As far as the * above on the lyric: “But Gollum… at the evil wall.” Here’s the deal with that. On “Zeppelin II,” that is what I hear. I hear it as clear as can be. “At the evil wall” comes through so very clear to me. However, live, I’ve heard many different things sung by Plant, including, “Gollum… the evil one.”

“One” and “Wall” can sound quite similar, especially when being sung by Robert Plant. But on the album, “at the evil wall” is what I hear. It is quite possible I am wrong because, as I stated, I’ve heard many different things from Robert live. So don’t hold me to that lyric, I am not 100% positive that that’s what he sings, but that’s what it sounds like to me and I’ve been listening to this song for over 30 years.

In the 2009 documentary titled, rather appropriately; “It Might Get Loud” Jimmy is seen playing a solo version of “Ramble On” using his famous Gibson Les Paul. Clad in black and looking extremely regal with his flowing grey hair, we see, close up, his hands as he works his way through the beginning of the song and into the hard-rocking riff. In a voice over, we also hear Pagey explaining not only this song, but many in the Zeppelin discography when he says: “Dynamics. Light and shade. Whisper to the… to the thunder. To invite you in… to intoxicating.”

“Ramble On” is another classic Zeppelin track that is still as popular today as it ever was; maybe more-so. And it just shows, yet again, how special the band was and what they were capable of doing as a unit.

"Moby Dick"
Today’ song - actually, it will be two songs - is a bit difficult for me to articulate on. There are various reasons for this, which I will get into in a bit, but first, pull out your copy of “Led Zeppelin II”, it’s side two, track four, clocking in at 4:21; the John Bonham solo piece, “Moby Dick.”

To any and all drummers out there who may read this, I must beg your forgiveness. I am not a drummer, I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12 and that is the instrument that I know inside out. I also play the mandolin and have played bass in studio sessions when one of my bands needed it. But drums… not my thing. I’ve tried to play them before… four limbs all doing different things and keeping everything in time… LOL Suffice to say there’s a very good reason why I am a guitarist!

That said; I have never been a fan of long drum solos. I hate it when I attend a show and the band departs the stage save for the drummer who then proceeds to show off his chops – or in some cases, the lack thereof – for the next 10 minutes or so. I find it completely unnecessary and a waste of time when the band could be playing another song… or two!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate great drummers and it is my opinion that there has never been a better rock drummer than John Bonham. I understand that when Zeppelin released their second album, drum solos were in vogue. But the practice is still in place today as Heaven & Hell proved {formerly Black Sabbath Mach II} when they released “Live From Radio City Music Hall.” At least Vinny Appice, the Heaven & Hell drummer, keeps his solo under five minutes or at least that’s all that is on the disc, I guess it’s possible it was longer live and then edited down. But… I digress…

 I remember when I was first discovering Zeppelin all those years ago and hearing the solo on “II” and wondering; Why? Why would they include a drum solo on a record? Did they run out of material? Surely there was something else they could have included on this album. And that’s not to take anything at all away from Bonzo. The best thing about “Moby Dick” as it appeared on the album was that it was under five minutes, but live, it grew to be a monster in length.

You see, I didn’t need to hear a John Bonham solo to understand that he was a phenomenal drummer; all I had to do was listen to the first :30 seconds of “Good Times Bad Times.” And lest you drummers out there think I am piling on Bonzo, I’m not. To this day I cringe when I see some of my Zeppelin bootlegs that have 20+ minute versions of “Dazed & Confused” or 15+ minute versions of “No Quarter.”

If you think back to those last US tours in 1975 and 1977 and think of how long those three songs were in concert, they often took up more than an hour of the show. Three songs showing off the skills of each musician in the band when they could have played another five or six songs that showed off the power and glory of the entire band!

And yes, I know that Zeppelin dropped “Dazed” from the set in 1977, but Page still played an overly long guitar solo which included the bowed guitar section from said song. One of the funniest moments ever recorded in bootleg history was on “Listen To This Eddie,” the famous 21 June 1977 show in LA. During Page’s solo a fan… and no, it wasn’t me… yells out: “We’ve had the guitar lesson!” Or something similar to that. And I get what that guy is going off about.

Zeppelin had this incredible catalog of music they could have played, and instead of playing “The Rover” or “Four Sticks” or “Houses Of The Holy” or “Friends” or “For Your Life” or “In The Light” or any other number of tracks, they instead chose to play these ungodly long solos that took up a third of their shows.

Alright, now that I have gotten my rant out of the way, let’s dive into this track, as well as the other track that will be featured in this particular Song Of The Day.

“Moby Dick” began life as “Pat’s Delight…” or at least Bonham’s drum solo was first titled that. “Pat’s Delight” had a different riff than “Moby Dick,” so one could actually view that as a separate song, but “Pat’s Delight,” named after Bonzo’s wife and Jason’s mother, eventually became “Moby Dick.”

The riff that kicks off “Moby Dick” is a killer riff but unfortunately, Page can’t accept credit for this one. An artist named Bobby Parker released a song in 1961 titled “Watch Your Step” that is the seed for this riff. It’s almost the exact same riff, with just a few minor changes. However, there is no denying that the riff that opens “Moby Dick” is a powerful and awesome riff.

Page first used the riff on a song titled “The Girl I Love {She Got Long Black Wavy Hair}” which was played once in 1969 during one of their BBC sessions. At some point, the band decided to drop “The Girl I Love” and use the riff as an intro for Bonzo’s solo showpiece. And again, I find that a sad mistake. “The Girl I Love” is a good song and would have certainly fit into their early tours.

Once “Moby Dick” entered the set list it was a staple at all shows through the 1977 tour. On that final US tour, the song became aptly named “Over The Top.” So it appears that the band, or at the very least Robert, knew the song was an excess that took excesses to the very limits.

Although I don’t own a copy of the show, there is reportedly a bootleg that has a 44 minute version of “Moby Dick.” What were Page, Plant and Jones doing all this time? They could have driven back to the hotel, taken a shower, grabbed some dinner and been back at the arena in time to wrap the show up.

In 1982, when Jimmy released “Coda,” there was another Bonham solo piece included, this one titled “Bonzo’s Montreux.” This track was one that I just never got into, mainly, I think, because of Jimmy’s “electronic treatments” that were added after the drums were originally recorded.

And when “Coda” was released, I remember thinking and wondering the same thing that I wondered about “II…” did they not have anything else they could have released? Why didn’t they add “Hey Hey What Can I Do” to “Coda?” Or “Baby Come On Home?”

“Bonzo’s Montreux” was recorded in 1976 in Montreux, Switzerland, which might provide some insight as to the title and was never played live, although Bonzo did include sections of it during “Over The Top” during the 1977 tour.

In 1990, when the three surviving members of Zeppelin released the first “Box Set,” Jimmy had gone in and combined “Moby Dick” with “Bonzo’s Montreux,” which was sort of weird to me, as they sounded nothing alike. On “Box Set II,” “Bonzo’s Montreux” was then released as it had appeared on “Coda.”

So… have I alienated all drummers and most Zeppelin fans by now? LOL It’s just my taste and what I feel is appropriate and I wish that Zeppelin had played more SONGS during their touring years as opposed to these excessively narcissistic solos.

If not for Page/Plant, there are a number of songs – great songs – by Zeppelin that we would have never heard live. And that is what bothers me about this entire situation. Bonham was never better than when he was playing to one of Jimmy’s riffs and supporting the band as only he could. He would lock into a groove with John Paul and they would just be so tight, so rightin-the-pocket that Page could then venture off into destinations unknown and they would be right there with him.

As great as Zeppelin were in live settings, I just believe they could have been even better if they had played more of their catalog and less of the extravagant soloing. Again… it’s just my opinion.

And I want to stress, once again and for the record, that none of this takes away from how I view John Bonham. The man was simply the greatest drummer in rock history. Bar none. That’s my opinion and I can back that up with “Good Times Bad Times” – “In My Time Of Dying” – “What Is And What Should Never Be” – “The Song Remains The Same” – “Kashmir” – “When The Levee Breaks” – “Immigrant Song” or any other number of songs. All I am saying is I would have loved to have heard more songs than solos when they played live.

"Bring It On Home"
Anybody in the mood for a quickie? Oh for Pete's sake, get your collective minds out of the gutter! I'm talking about a song! (Yeah, right) Sheesh, you people amaze me. Maybe I'm feeling this way because of the album that produces today's look back in time. The second album to be exact, the mighty Zep II, track nine, clocking in at 4:19, "Bring It On Home".

The low rumbling of John Paul's bass sets the mood. Some nice harp courtesy of Mr. Plant, who also sounds a little like some of the old black bluesmen that inspired him. Robert conjures up an image of Sonny Boy Williams sitting on a street corner with his vocals during this slow section.

 ..."I'm gonna take my seat, right way back
gonna watch that train roll down the track"


But hey, don't get too comfortable there. 'Cause Jimmy has something up his sleeve. And with little warning he hits us right upside the head with one of the heaviest, coolest, most ROCKIN' riffs of all time.

YES!!! Zeppelin in full flight. What a riff. Instantly recognizable, and definitely memorable. Bonham kicks in and the fun just reverberates through the speakers and into your heart.

"Try to tell you baby
what you trying to do?
Try to love you baby
you love some other man too..."


Jimmy's riffs behind the vocals are so cool. The guitar in this song is so full of energy. Double-tracking on the main riff, only an octave higher, no guitar solo, but with this riff, you don't need one. Nor do you miss it. The brilliance of Jimmy has always been knowing what to leave out, as well as what should be in.

Bonham is also such a treat to listen to here. Every time you think you know what he's gonna play, he does the opposite. Little shuffles here and there, a fill that would leave most drummers grasping for air and losing the time, he pulls it off so easily.

Robert, so young, sounds positively awesome. Singing the blues and having a blast while doing it. If you really want to know just how good Robert sounds on this song, refer to the Rock n Roll Hall-of-Fame jam when Steven Tyler sang with him. I like Aerosmith, but Tyler couldn't even come close.

Zeppelin played this one live in the beginning, late 1969 and for the 1970 tours. After that it made a brief appearance in 1972 in the U.S. as an encore, then in 1973 they used it as a link prior to "Black Dog", before "Out On The Tiles" overtook it. Some of the early renditions were great jams with Pagey and Bonzo extending things.

This was one of the five songs played at Jason Bonham's wedding reception, and of course was a big part of the Page/Plant tour. Usually appearing early in the set, second or third song most times, and without the slowed down intro. They jumped right into it and never failed to delight.

"Bring It On Home" is a classic Zeppelin track. Maybe not as "famous" as other Zep songs, but certainly a fun track that never fails to move the listener.

 Now, that was decent enough for a quickie, wouldn't you agree? DAMN! Why is it I can never find those blasted cigarettes?