Led Zeppelin III

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

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LZ IV

 

"Immigrant Song"
With winter kicking in full force I thought it fitting that we should journey back to the days of Vikings, wandering oe'r the land and fighting battle after battle. Tough fellows they were, and you have to be tough when you hail from the land of ice and snow. So follow me won't you, as we revisit Led Zeppelin III, track one, clocking in at 2:26, "Immigrant Song"

THE RIFF! James, Jonsey and Bonham locked together like battering rams, while Robert cries out a classic call to the gods.

"Ahh a ahhhh AHH
Ahh a ahhhh AHH
We come from the land of the ice and snow
from the midnight sun
where the hot springs glow

Hammer of the gods
will drive our ships to new land
fight the hull, sing and cry
Valhalla I am coming"


Well, Zeppelin sure knew how to grab someone's attention. The imagery they could create in their music was incredible. There's something eerie and mystical about this track. That driving riff, Plant's vocals wailing above. The power of this group in new found glory, coming into their own in a way only hinted at before. And people call this their "mellow" album.

It was this song that Robert really started to develop a style with his lyrics. Rising above the simple love/lust songs, and exploring foreign territory. And we get to tag along for the ride. 2:26, that's about as short a song as they ever did, and yet the lasting imprint was and is still felt. How many metal bands have tried, in vain, to duplicate that power?

Led Zeppelin premiered this song at the Bath festival in 1970. Jimmy would add a solo, and the verse section would vary a little compared to the album version that had yet to be released. "Immigrant Song" would open every show from Bath to the ' 72 U.S. tour. In the UK and Japan shows in ' 72-' 73 it would be used as an encore. Robert would revisit this track in his solo shows circa ' 88 and ' 90. On the Page/Plant tour and it's successive legs, they would employ this as an intro/kickstart to "Wanton Song", adding tension in the key shift from F# to G major.

A classic piece of Zeppelin history, another I would have loved them to play live more frequently. Jimmy? Robert? Are you listening?

"Tonight you better stop
and repent of all your ruin
peace and justice can win the day
despite of all your losin' "


"Friends"
Today's journey is a unique one, because it is something we all have in common. We have all been at a place in our lives where we have been down, when the road seems too long to keep pushing on, when the night seems eternally black with no promise of daybreak in sight. It is at these times that we find something out about ourselves. Somehow, someway, we fight back, we tell ourselves that it will get better, that we must keep pushing ahead. Sometimes we do it alone, but usually we find someone that is there to help us. As if an angel were sent down to take us by the hand and guide us. When you feel sad and alone, when you just need a shoulder to hang on, when the touch of another person means the difference between hope and despair, it is then that we discover our true friends. Join me won't you, as we look at one of Led-Zeppelin's finest moments, in terms of musical structure, band participation, and the overall timeless quality. A little song from the Led-Zeppelin III album, track two, clocking in at 3:55, "Friends."

A bit of an outtake quality to this one at the beginning. Studio chatter going on, something that sounds like a television or a radio, a bit of a false start on the guitar, and then... Ba Da DA! Ah yes, the warmth from that acoustic guitar. Bonzo banging on some bongo drums and we are taken to a brand new world. Exotic, hypnotic, and very mesmerizing, a track unlike anything they had attempted up to this point, and certainly nothing they did after this approached this sort of direction.

The tuning employed by Jimmy on this song is the same as "Bron-Yr-Aur", the gorgeous instrumental from Physical Grafitti, as well as "Poor Tom." The tuning, from low to high, C, A, C, G, C, E, is one of his most beautiful alternate tunings. If you listen closely in the first few bars of the song, you will hear the low "C" vibrating harshly against the neck of the guitar. Most guitarists would have probably redone the track, but Jimmy went with the emotion of the moment, and who cares if there's a little buzz on the record anyway?

One cannot say enough about the contributions on this track by John Paul Jones. He completely wrote the string arrangement which provides so much of the aura on this performance. His ability to take an idea and run with it is once again a major reason for the success of a Zeppelin song. John Paul was, and is, a creative and a talented wonder. Always content to stand in the shadows and let the others take the spotlight and get the attention, John Paul Jones was definitely a one-of-a-kind team player. Maybe the greatest thing about Jonsey's contributions that one could say, is that you may not always notice them right away, but if he wasn't there, you would definitely know it.

Robert offers up some truly inspiring and beautiful lyrics. The message here is one of hope. He also hints a bit at the karma we all reap in our life. Good advice from a young Mr. Plant.

"...mmm I'm telling you now,
the greatest thing you ever can do now...
is trade a smile with someone who's blue now,
 it's very easy just..."


There is much to be admired about this section. We have all probably been in that situation. We have a friend who's down and we try to cheer them up. That's usually pretty easy to do, simply because we know the person. What I take from these lines though is to try this with a stranger. That isn't always so easy. But wow, when you do it, the reward can be so wonderful. You are walking along having a great day and suddenly you spot someone you don't know at all, but you can see that they are troubled. Maybe the clerk behind the counter having a rotten day, maybe the homeless person on the street corner just trying to survive. But you dare to seek the road less traveled, and rather than ignore them you take a few seconds out of your day and offer them a smile. A compliment. You share something humourous with them. Out of nowhere you see a slight smile ease into their face. Perhaps they look at you funny, but maybe, just maybe, they look at you and say... nothing. But their eyes, their eyes are SCREAMING: THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! That is what life is really all about. The exchange of compassion from one human being to another. The fact that somebody really does care. What a beautiful feeling.

"Met a man on the roadside cryin',
without a friend there's no denying...
you're incomplete, there'll be no finding,
looking for what you knew...

So anytime somebody needs ya,
don't let 'em down, all though it grieves ya...
someday you'll need someone like they do,
looking for what you knew..."


And here we see the karma. If you believe, like I do, that what we give out is what we get back, then pay attention. That wonderful feeling we just experienced only took a few seconds, and yet most people would find that just too troubling to do. "Don't bother me. I'm busy. I don't know you. Leave me alone." What happens is these people are constantly pushing everyone out of their way, until one day they reach out. In the darkness they seek a hand to hold, someone to help them through the pain, another human who can relate with them and say everything will be fine. But they find... emptiness. Their karma, what they have spent a lifetime giving out, comes right back to them. And they find that to be the loneliest feeling of all.

"...mmm I'm tellin' you now,
the greatest thing you ever can do now...
is trade a smile with someone who's blue now,
it's very easy just..."


The music begins to build now. Robert has re-emphasized his point, the music begins to take on a life all it's own. Pumping, driving, the experience totally engulfing the listener.

"...mmm I'm telling you now,"

The string arrangement and the guitars getting louder, and louder, still driving the song, and the message deep into our soul.

"the greatest thing you ever can do now..."

Pulsing, the acoustic guitar speeding up.

"Is trade a smile with someone who's blue now,"

That droning Moog synthesizer starting to surface. "it's very easy... It's easy easy..." Building and building... and then... suddenly... it stops, and that drone note from the Moog is all that's left. Wow, what a jolt back into reality. What a compositional masterpiece. What emotion, what a song.

The thing I think I love the most about Led-Zeppelin, the band, the music, everything that went into who they are and what they did, is the emotions that I feel when I listen to their music. No other band does THIS MUCH for me. I have had the great fortune of meeting a lot of really wonderful people on Digital Grafitti, and at the two Zep-fest conventions I have attended. At this last one in Niagara Falls I had a lot of friends to renew acquaintances with. Through out the busy weekend one was lost in the shuffle. Time that was to be spent sharing exciting news and exchanging thoughts on all topics Zeppelin ended up not happening at all. We did share a brief few moments talking one evening, but it wasn't what we had in mind. I regret allowing that to happen, because of the great distances we both had to travel I am not sure when we will see each other again. However, she does know that I consider her a dear and true friend, and we have spoken about that weekend and agreed that next time things will be different. Don't lose sight of your friends people. You will regret it always.

Funny thing about this mini-masterpiece: Zeppelin only performed it in concert once. In Osaka on the 1971 tour of Japan. But, just like a fine wine, Jimmy and Robert dusted it off for their "Unleded" MTV special, and this was one of the highlights. Yes there was an Egyptian orchestra, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, Ed Shearmur on Hammond Organ, and Charlie Jones on bass, all trying to "fill" the mighty shoes of one John Paul Jones. Jimmy and Robert then proceeded to play this song on their tour that followed, and it was a crowd pleaser everytime. "Friends" was the other song, alongside "Four Sticks", that Jimmy and Robert recorded with the Bombay Orchestra in March of 1972. On the "Unleded" performance Jimmy had to detune his guitar down a half step to accommodate Robert's voice. The low "C" was now down to low "B", creating an extra heavy effect.

A beautiful song which conjures up many emotions for me, I hope it has the same effect for you...

"Celebration Day"
Well today we'll journey back in time to that album with the bizarre cover. Ah ha, WHICH bizarre cover you ask? Ok, Ok, the third album. Side one, if you still have the vinyl that is, track three, clocking in at 3:29, "Celebration Day".

That weird drone you hear at the beginning has a funny story behind it. Apparently the engineer messed up and recorded over Bonham's drums at the intro to this song, almost causing the band to scrap the song entirely. In Guitar World, December 1993, Jimmy said that's why that drone is used, to compensate for the lack of drums, until the rhythm track catches up. He called it "salvaging" the track. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know, the rest, of the story.

Back to the song. Jimmy plays a fiery riff, almost sounding chaotic, overdubbed guitars colliding as one, and then Robert enters.

"Her face is cracked from smiling
all the tears that she's been hiding
and she wonders pretty soon
everybody's gonna know...

And her voice is sore from shouting
cheering winners who are losing
she wonders if their days are few
and soon they'll have to go...

My my my I'm so happy
I'm gonna join the band
We're gonna sing and dance in celebration
we're in the Promised Land"


Such a fun, upbeat song. Jimmy is absolutely riffing his arm off, Bonzo and Jonsey are pushing the track along like a locomotive, and Robert sings such happy, positive lyrics. At least in the chorus anyway. I wonder if this is what he said when first invited to join Led Zeppelin?

This is one of those songs that, unless you're a diehard Zep fan, most people don't even know about. Which is a shame. This song really cooks, I love the pace provided by Bonham and Jonsey, and Jimmy's riff is a classic. Another song that can really lift up one's spirits.

"She hears them talk of new ways
to protect the home she lives in,
she wonders what it's all about
when they break down the door...

Her name is Brown or White or Black,
You know her very well
An' you hear her crying for mercy
as the winners toll the bell..."


Written in 1969-1970, and yet fits in real well with our world in 1997, huh? Jimmy plays a very exciting solo on this track. The perfect way he blends in a bunch of notes, then hangs back with some cool bends, just another great solo by the man. He sounds very inspired on this track, as does the entire band.

Zep played this one in concert from the late summer tour of America in 1971, stayed in the set late 1971 to early 1972. Played again in the U.S. in 1973, then returned for the Copenhagen warm-up dates, as well as Knebworth. Used as a medley in the spring of 1971 with "Communication Breakdown". Jimmy and Robert dusted this off on their "No Quarter" tour, turning in some exciting moments as well. An excellent concert song, the energy just grabs you and won't let go.

Maybe a song overlooked by many, but Jimmy is in top form throughout the song. The riffs, the solo, and that wonderful ending, pure Page magic. So check it out if you can, I much prefer the live versions of this over the studio track, but that's me. Either way, you can't go wrong.

"Since I’ve Been Loving You"
We have now turned the corner and are charging down the home stretch. Only three songs to go and each one is a masterpiece! Today’s song is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks… er, something like that. {We’ll get to this in a bit} For now, grab your copy of “Led Zeppelin III” and turn to side one, track four, clocking in at 7:23, the amazing slow blues juggernaut, “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”

This was one of the very first tracks to be written and recorded for “III” and was in Zeppelin’s live show long before it was released on the record in October of 1970. It does have more controversy swirling around it in that Robert “borrowed” heavily from Moby Grape’s “Never” lyrically - Plant is an admitted Moby Grape fan - however this would become another classic in the Zeppelin catalog and a staple on nearly every tour since its early 1970 inception.

Long a fan favorite, when I hear this song two things immediately spring to mind; the first is from the movie “The Song Remains The Same” when the beautiful girl in the audience is watching Robert as he sings: “Yes it’s a drag, my it’s a drag…” and they show her, with a white hoodie on, her hands folded in a triangular shape near her chin as she is in complete awe and then she suddenly breaks into this gorgeous smile as the blues wash down upon her and she is swept away, completely transfixed in the moment. If you can force yourself to take your eyes off of her – difficult, I know – check out the guy sitting next to her… he is totally mesmerized at what he is witnessing. That is one of the most priceless moments of that film. The second thing… well, I’ll get to that a little later.

The song begins with a simple but instantly recognizable five note lick from Jimmy and then Bonham enters, playing a steady slow beat behind him. John Paul adds some hauntingly beautiful organ work as Jimmy takes center stage for one of his finest recorded moments ever.

 The notes fly off his guitar like fireworks in the night and emotion drips from the neck of his Les Paul as he works his magic, pulling you, the listener, into a whirlwind of blues, setting a stunning mood for Plant to articulate over.

During this intro, Jimmy’s playing is masterful. He squeezes everything he can out of his guitar and does so with the hand of a guitar god. He plays quietly – almost forcing you to lean in closer to your speakers to hear him – then he will explode into a run that, as Jack Black would say, would melt your face!

Working from seven
To eleven every night
Really makes life a drag
I don’t think that’s right

I feel I’ve been the best
The best of fools
I did what I could, yeah
‘Cause I love you baby
How I love you darling
How I love you baby
My I love you little girl

Little girl
But baby since I’ve been loving you, yeah
I’m about to lose my worried mind Ahh yeah…


It should be noted here that Pagey’s playing behind Robert is absolutely superb. As Robert sings a line, Jimmy answers, or responds, with a beautiful lick on the guitar. I know, I know - this is standard blues fair - but my God man, the way they did it was just incredible.

The song kicks into its signature lick by Page and Bonham becomes more animated with the drumming, and then we’re back to Robert and his story of woe as John Paul and his organ take a more noticeable position.

Everybody tried to tell me
That you didn’t mean me no good
I’ve been trying
Lord!
Let me tell you
Let me tell you I really did the - best I could

I’ve been, I’ve been working
From seven ah-to eleven every night
I said it kinda makes life a drag, drag, drag, drag
Lord!!!
Yeah, that’s right now, now

Since I’ve been loving you
I’m about to lose - my worried mind
Gotcha…


As the music builds leading into the chorus, the effect is just spell-binding. Bonham’s drums again stand out and Jonsey proves, once more, his massive talent and when Robert belts out “Since…” it sends a shiver down the proverbial spine. They may have been four blokes from England, but they could deliver the blues when they wanted to and that is certainly evident on this track.

Jimmy then takes off on a ripping solo, using every note in the scale, ranging from low end runs to high bends and flurries of just raw emotion, his use of dynamics in this solo are what make it so special. Everything builds and builds until they come to a complete stop.

Said I’ve been crying – yeah
All my tears they fell like rain

Bonham brings everyone back in and Plant delivers more chilling vocals, his singing on this, much in the vein of Jimmy’s guitar, filled with pain and emotion.

Don’t you hear them?
Don’t you hear them falling?
Don’t you hear them?
Don’t you hear them falling?

Do you remember mama
When I knocked upon your door?
I said you had the nerve - to tell me
You didn’t want me no more, yeah
I open my front door –
I hear my back door slam
You know I must have one of them new-fangled, new-fangled
Back door mans
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’ve been a-working from seven, seven, seven
To eleven every night
It kinda makes life a drag
A drag, drag
Oooohhhh yeah it makes a drag
Baby since I’ve been loving you
I’m about to lose
I’m about to lose, lose
My worried mind

Just one more
Just one more
Oooohhhhh yeah!
Since I’ve been lovin’
I’m gonna lose
My worried mind

Bonham slowly brings the song down as Page plays the signature lick and Jonsey’s organ and Bonham’s symbols take us out. And that, my friends, is how you play the blues. Or at least, how Led Zeppelin attacked the blues.

There’s so much good going on in this song that you could sit and listen specifically to each individual member’s performance and you would be blown away by how good they were and then, you could listen to the song as an entire entity and see how they merged all their talents into this majestic blues odyssey and the only conclusion one could draw from this is that Led Zeppelin not only knew the blues and understood it, they kicked it in its collective butt!

People wonder what Robert Johnson would have sounded like if he had been around when the electric guitar was invented – well; this is probably your answer to that question.

As I mentioned earlier, this first appeared in Zeppelin’s live show early in 1970. It would remain in the set on every subsequent tour, being used sparingly on the 1975 US dates, but was back full time from 1977 on. During the latter versions, after “Presence” was released, Jimmy would sometimes add some licks from “Tea For One” in as the songs were very close to each other in style and tempo.

In 1988, as Robert was touring with his solo band, Jimmy joined him onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon for a run through of this and then Page/Plant played it again on the “Unledded” project and subsequent tour in 1995/96.

And of course, at the O2 reunion in 2007, “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was performed again.

I stated earlier that there were two things that instantly spring to mind when listening to this track – or even thinking about this track – and I’ve already mentioned the stunningly beautiful girl in the movie, so now I should reveal the second thing this track does to me… In 1997, at the Zep-Fest in Buffalo, New York, a group of us were hanging out in somebody’s room and jamming some Zeppelin songs.

Somehow we got on the topic of “oddities” that were in Zeppelin songs – like ringing telephones, etc. – and that was when J.R. Sröufe asked me if I had ever noticed the squeaky bass pedal in “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” I looked at him in total shock. Squeaky bass pedal? What are you talking about?

Sure enough, he puts on the song and then points it out to me… and today, some 14 and a half years later, I still hear that damn squeaky bass pedal! So thanks J.R. for taking a song I loved and forever reminding me of a squeaky bass pedal when I hear, or think of, the song!

My question is this; was WD-40 not invented yet? Because there are other Zeppelin songs where that squeak can be heard, though I will spare you the torment that J.R. has inflicted on me and I won’t mention them here! LOL

There is no question that Zeppelin were huge fans of the blues, particularly Jimmy and Robert, and their sound was based around the blues. “Since I’ve Been Loving You” has remained a long-standing classic because, squeaky bass pedals aside, they could deliver a mesmerizing performance playing music that they were so heavily influenced by and they could also add their own twist to it and put their own very identifiable stamp on it.

It’s also very apparent that Jimmy is very inspired by the blues as his solo in “Since” is regarded as one of the best of all time, his solo on “Tea For One” is simply amazing and the solo he played on the Coverdale/Page song “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was recorded in one take and he was sick at the time with a fever. There’s something deep in the blues that touches Jimmy and brings out some of his best performances.

"Out On The Tiles"
Today's song is a happy song. Because...well, because life is too short to not be happy. So, from that album with the spinning disc, (yes, you too can spotlight your favourite member of Led-Zeppelin! Or your favourite vegetable, whichever the case may be), from side one, track five, clocking in at 4:04, "Out On The Tiles."

You know, this song, perhaps more than any other Led-Zeppelin song, typifies, for me anyway, everything that we know about John Bonham. Think about this. John Henry Bonham was a man who enjoyed the simple things in life. He loved his family dearly, he hated touring, particularly in the latter years, he loved sports cars with big engines, he loved to throw people into swimming pools, and get him behind a drum kit, and he would display the most incredible talent the world of Rock and Roll had ever seen or heard. He was a big hearted man who didn't care about the "mystique" of Zeppelin, he just cared about the music. That's all. Plain and simple.

The lyrics in this song have always reminded me of John. Or something he would write. Bonham is given a songwriting credit on this song, but it's because this song came from a riff inspired by him. I doubt he was playing around with Page's Les Paul one day, probably the "riff" was the drum pattern, which in turn inspired Page to write the riff. But the lyrics, they seem to really reflect what John Bonham was about.

"As I walk down the highway
all I do is sing a song...
And a train that's passin' my way
helps the rhythm move along...
There is no doubt about it
the words are clear, the voice is strong
it's oh so strong...

I'm just a simple guy
I live from day to day...
A ray of sunshine melts my frown
and blows my blues away...
There's nothing more that I can say
but on a day like today
I pass the time away...
and walk a quiet mile with you...

All I need from you
is all your love...
All you gotta give to me
is all your love..."


This song is about a "simple" guy, he doesn't require much, but when it comes to the love of his life, he needs "all your love", and to him, it's not that difficult. It's easy. That's all you gotta do, give me ALL your love, and we'll pass the time away taking romantic strolls down country roads living for the moment with each other. And that, based on everything I know about John Bonham, sums him up quite nicely.

The other thing about this song, as simple as the lyrics are, is the music is so intense. The reference in the first verse to a "train" is so apt. Because this song sounds just like a train barreling down the tracks...and headed straight for you! A "typical", if there is such a thing in Zeppelin's music, twist, is the way they break up the chorus. Robert sings the two lines, then the DUH DUH, DUH DUH, DUH DUH section just adds such a nice break. Again though, this is a very simple thing, but in the context of a song, it adds so much to the overall feel.

"I'm so glad I'm living,
gonna tell the world I am
Got me a fine woman,
she says that I'm her man,
One thing that I know for sure,
gonna give her all the loving like
Nobody nobody, nobody nobody can..."


It's funny, but as you listen to these words it seems almost obvious. Never before, and certainly never since, has Robert written lyrics quite like these. Very simple. Vanilla, one could say. Even "Thank You" has some beautiful touches of eloquence. I may be completely wrong, but it wouldn't surprise me if Bonham actually wrote, or helped write some of these lyrics. This song just screams JOHN BONHAM!!!!!

For those of you into the bizarre, right after Robert sings the line "I'm so glad I'm living" you hear a voice say "Stop." Rumour has it that it's Page. Others contend it's Plant. It sounds more like Plant to me, but you'll have to listen and decide for yourself. Listen in the left speaker.

"Standing in the noonday sun,
trying to flag a ride...
People go and people come,
see my rider right by my side...
It's a total disgrace, they set the pace
It must be a race
and the best thing I can do is rock..."


This last verse is definitely Robert's writing. Actually Robert Johnson! "Trying to flag a ride" and "see my rider right by my side" are either a tip of the hat to Johnson, or just plain thievery, whichever you prefer. The last word in this verse has been written by others as "run", but to me it sounds like "rock." It also fits the song mentality better. The best thing I can do is run? Nah, best thing I can do is ROCK!!! "

Out On The Tiles" is a fun, rocking song. A very clever Page riff, some very good drumming by Bonzo, Robert seems to be having a good time, Jonsey adds some cool bass lines, doubling the riff with Page and giving that "heavy" feel. He plays off Bonham so well in this song, proving once again they were the ultimate rhythm section.

"Out On The Tiles" was only performed live in the early fall of 1970, during their sixth US tour. And that's a shame. Once again, if they could have cut the damn solos down to a minimum they could have added more SONGS, and this one would have been a good choice to start with. Perhaps one of Zeppelin's least known songs, though it is famous for being a link to "Black Dog." Used as an intro to kick start the more popular Zep number, it seems it has always been destined as a throwaway. In the 1977 tour the intro was expanded and used as the lead into John's drum solo, then known as "Over The Top." Jimmy played this intro again with David Coverdale in Japan in 1993, once more to lead into "Black Dog", and Page/Plant toyed around with the riff on their "No Quarter" tour.

Perhaps we never will hear this song performed in its entirety again in a live setting. I guess without Bonzo around it really doesn't matter, does it? I do know this, it is a very good song, always overshadowed in the Zeppelin catalog, but it still reminds me of our dearly departed John Henry Bonham. A simple man perhaps, but what he could do on the drum kit.

"Gallows Pole"
And now… for something extremely deep and drenched in rich tradition. Over the course of their career, Led Zeppelin wrote a lot of songs that dealt with a variety of topics, ranging from sex, to lust, to love, to lost love, to happiness, to sadness, to silliness, to the love of a pet, as well as many otherworldly ideas. But nothing they ever recorded was as intense as today‟s song when you look at the meaning behind this tale.

To their credit, this one was listed as such – Traditional: Arrangement – Page/Plant. Now why they chose to do that with this song and not many others is beyond me, but again, their version of this storied song is quite simply stunning.

So grab your copy of “Led Zeppelin III,” side two, track one, clocking in at 4:58 and their phenomenal take on “Gallows Pole.”

To begin to appreciate this tune, we must first understand that it has been around for centuries; often the person trying/hoping to be saved from the deathly gallows is a young maiden. There‟s a very interesting theory about some of the older versions of this song that I thought should be pointed out, even though they don‟t really relate to Zeppelin‟s version.

In all of the versions the person on the gallows, typically a female, asks: „Did you bring some silver, did you bring some gold?‟ And one theory is that the “gold” isn‟t actually the metal, but merely a metaphor for the proof of the young lady‟s purity. And you have to remember, there was a time when an unmarried woman who participated in sexual acts was condemned and, in the case of this song, killed for her actions.

In Zeppelin‟s version, the protagonist is a male. This isn‟t uncommon, as some versions do change the sex of the “victim” from female to male, and the proof of this is in the lyrics Zeppelin used. Why Robert decided to do this is a question I cannot answer. It doesn't detract from the song at all, though I do believe that a female on the gallows would make the song even more harrowing.

The song begins with Jimmy strumming an acoustic guitar. The chord progression is simple, but what helps elevate Zeppelin‟s version is how they keep adding instruments along the way; building the intensity of the song as well as the pace. It‟s actually quite clever, because as the person gets closer to death, the music is blazing along at a frenetic pace and it puts you, the listener, in a state where you can “feel” the adrenaline and the anxiety the victim is surely experiencing.

Hangman
Hangman
Hold it a little while
I think I see my friends comin’
Ridin’ many mile

A-friends d’ you get some silver?
D’ you get a little gold?
What did you bring me my dear friends?
Keep me from the gallows pole?
What did you bring me?
Keep me from the gallows pole?

I couldn’t get no silver
I couldn’t get no gold
You know that we’re too damn poor
To keep you from the gallows pole


At this point everything changes. More acoustic guitars are added as Page brings out a 12-string to join the six string, as well as mandolin by John Paul. After a couple of lines the bass enters and adds another dimension to the track. The bass, and the way Jonsey plays it, has always given me the impression of the victim‟s heartbeat. It‟s fast… steady… and very nervous.

Hangman
Hangman
Hold it a little while
I think I see my brother comin’
Ridin’ many mile
Brother you get me some silver?
A-d’ you get a little gold?
A-what did you bring me, my brother
T’ keep me from the gallows pole?

Brother I brought you some silver, yeah {The clue that the one awaiting the gallows is indeed a male}
I brought a little gold
I brought a little of everything
T’ keep you from the gallows pole
Yes I brought you…
T’ keep you from the gallows pole

Hangman
Hangman
Turn your head a while
I think I see my sister comin’
Ridin’ many mile, mile, mile, mile


At this point the music changes again, with Bonham joining in as well as the addition of a banjo played by Page as the pace elevates ever so slightly.

 Sister I implore you –
Take him by the hand
Take him to some shady palace
Save me from the wrath of this man
Please take him –
Save me from the wrath of this man, man

Hangman
Hangman
Upon your face a smile
Tell me that I’m free to ride –
Ride for many mile, mile, mile

Oh yes, you got a fine sister
She warmed my blood from cold
She warmed my blood - boiling hot
To keep you from the gallows pole
Pole, pole, pole, yeah, yeah


We are now at judgment day and the victim has done everything that has been asked. Silver, gold and his sister have been given to the executioner in exchange for pity on his life. But just as the old adage warns those who make a deal with the Devil, our victim soon learns that nothing that was given has changed the mind of the hangman.

Your brother brought me silver
And your sister warmed my soul
But now I laugh and pull so hard
See you swinging on the gallows pole


What I find so intriguing about this song is that it is a true testament to the way life once was. During the Salem Witch trials, they actually had a method to tell if a person was guilty or innocent. They would place the accused in the water… a pond or lake… and the water accepted them, they were innocent. Of course, they would drown if the water “accepted” them. If the water rejected them… i.e., they floated, then they were pronounced guilty, pulled from the water and executed.

How screwed up were our forefathers that this type of behavior was not only allowed, but encouraged? And in 100 years, what will they say of our behavior today? Songs like “Gallows Pole” teach us lessons… not only from the past, but also they warn us of our present. The question that must be asked is this: Is anyone listening?

Zeppelin barely played “Gallows Pole” live, only bringing it out during parts of the European and United Kingdom dates between April and May of 1971. Occasionally Robert would throw a few lines in during “Trampled Underfoot.” Oddly enough, during the 1993 Coverdale/Page tour of Japan, David Coverdale would throw in lines of this near the end of “In My Time Of Dying.”

I find it a terrible tragedy that they basically ignored this song when playing live. Bonham is superb in this as usual, but here, although he plays furiously, he also plays with a great deal of restraint, never taking away from the intended message or getting in the way. To be as powerful as he was and yet also display the amount of restraint he did showcases his talent in an entirely new light.

In 1994, when Page/Plant formed and aired their “Unledded” project, “Gallows Pole” was the single and became an instant smash. In fact, the actual CD single that was released contained versions of “What Is And What Should Never Be” as well as “The Rain Song,” making the single an essential item for diehards like me.

Page/Plant played this on their 1995/96 and 1998 tours, typically drawing a huge reception from the audience. Plant has also included it in his solo set in recent years.

“Gallows Pole” has been around, seemingly, forever, and rightfully so. The song tells a dark and ominous tale, and it begs the listener to pay attention. There is great prophesy in the song as well as a great warning… but of course, it‟s only a warning if anyone actually understands what the message is.

"Tangerine"
Told you all eventually I'd get around to doing a very SHORT song of the day, and yesterday I finally achieved that. So welcome back from Stonesville, today we'll visit a very beautiful place. A place where only a select few are allowed entry. It takes a special person to go here you see, because this is the land where hearts and dreams get crushed. Why does it take someone special? Because you have to be willing to open your heart, and so few have that desire anymore. Our society believes in looking out for numero uno, screw the other guy, and whatever happens, never become emotionally involved. Such a sad statement. See, those people will never be here, they'll never invade our special island, our place for those who dare...

So journey with me my friends, back to Led Zeppelin III, side two, track two, clocking in at 3:12, the theme song for the broken-hearted, "Tangerine".

A bizarre count in from Jimmy, and then, one of this musical genius' finest acoustic moments in all his storied career. The guitar that he provides for us is stunningly simple, amazingly beautiful, and all the while conveying the emotion that we'll later hear in the words. A true masterpiece from the man who has written so many.

"Measuring a summer's day
I only find it slips... away, to grey
The hours they bring me pain

Tangerine, Tangerine
living reflections, from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen
and now a thousand years between

Thinking how it used to be
does she still remember times like these
To think of us again
... And I do"


Robert's vocal performance on this track is superb. Such emotion, the pain is in his voice, and I mean that in the most generous sense. He really FEELS this song. What some may not realise is that Robert didn't write the lyrics in this song. Jimmy did. Yes, the man who prefers to let his guitar do the talking, penned these beautiful heart-felt words.

After " and I do", Jimmy introduces yet another facet to his incredible talents, the slide guitar. His lyrical solo is picture perfect. Not one note too much, not one too little, simply perfect. Jimmy's sense of knowing exactly what a song requires is amazing. The fact that he's always had this uncanny ability is what is so impressive. He didn't develop this along the way, it was already there.

The song slips back into the chorus following Jimmy's solo, and then, just as quickly as it started, it's over. But in 3:12, Zeppelin say more than just about any other band could in an entire album.

One must also comment on the subtle yet effective organ work from John Paul Jones. You almost don't notice it with all the guitars, the beautiful lyrics and Robert's excellent performance, but take out Jones and the track would suffer.

The manner in which Jimmy chose to close this song out is another example of pure musical genius. Such a gorgeous, and off the wall ending.

Zeppelin performed this live in the acoustic set in September of 1971 in Japan, and it stayed in the set until the summer of 1972. Brought back for Earl's Court in 1975, where Jimmy chose the famous double-neck to do the honours. Page/Plant also performed this on a few of the dates on their tour.

"Tangerine" is a prime example why all other bands that try to be like Zeppelin will always fall short. The diversity of the talent in the group is what made songs like this possible. Nobody else has that, plain and simple.

As for Jimmy writing the lyrics, one reason is that "Tangerine" is a song leftover from the Yardbird days. Thankfully they didn't get around to recording this, and it was saved for Zep. And as far as Jimmy writing lyrics altogether, I believe the next time he wrote words to a song with no help from anyone wasn't until "Death Wish II", and the song "Who's To Blame", some 12 years later.

A sweet, intense song of love, of love lost, and reflecting on those feelings. A touching and inspiring moment, from the archives of Led Zeppelin.

"That's The Way"
So let's journey back one album before that one, to the third album, side two, track three, clocking in at 5:38, "That's The Way".

Ah yes, that beautiful rush of acoustic guitars first captures us and we realize immediately that Zeppelin at it's best is when they touch our soul. This music is like a friend, a calming hand in a cold world, a friend that will protect and share in life's many pleasures. To say that one can completely become lost in this song is an understatement.

"I don't know how I'm gonna tell you,
but I can't play with you no more...
I don't know how I'm gonna do what momma told me,
my friend, the boy next door...

I can't believe what people saying,
you're gonna let your hair hang down...
I'm satisfied to sit here working all day long,
you're in the darker side of town..."


Said to be influenced by some of Robert's thoughts from the 1970 spring US tour, and about the disillusionment of two star crossed lovers, Robert provides us with some of his most personal and telling lyrics. Opening up like this is not at all easy, to bare one's soul can be very scary, that he does this so well speaks volumes about the confidence he was gaining at this time in his career.

"And when I'm out I see you walking,
why don't your eyes see me?
Or could it be you've found another game to play,
what did mamma say to me...

That's the way
Oh that's the way it ought to be...
Mamma said, that's the way it ought to stay...

And yesterday I saw you standing by the river
and were those tears that filled your eyes?
And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying,
have they got you hypnotized?

And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers,
but all that lives is born to die,
And so I say to you that nothing really matters,
and all you do is stand and cry..."


The simple beauty in these words is amazing. Robert's voice sounds somewhat sad, the emotion seems to have really gotten to him on this track. He sings with such ease, and is so convincing. I love it when he shows this more sensitive side of himself. He never fails to touch the heart deeply.

Jimmy's playing is truly wonderful. Quite content to be the supporting cast for Robert, and yet the sweet music he plays is stunning in itself. When these two musicians connect, as they do here, the result is so powerful.

"I don't know what to say about it,
when all your ears have turned away...
but now's the time to look and look again at what you see,
is that the way it ought to stay?"


That one verse sums up so much. It can be Robert talking to the concert goers, a lover asking another, or even the possibility of someone trying to speak to a mass crowd, united in one purpose, yet fighting internally. Is that the way it should stay? "That's The Way" made it's live première at the Bath festival on June 28, 1970, and was a mainstay of the acoustic set during the 1970/71 tours, and continued into the American tour of 1972. It made a re-appearance at Earl's Court in 1975. Jimmy and Robert included this in the "Unleded" MTV special, as well as some of their "No Quarter" tour dates, adding drums to it. The drums took away from the beauty in my opinion, but then again, matching the beauty found on the third album might be impossible.

 "That's The Way" asks some questions, it doesn't provide all the answers, that's left to us. A most special moment from the catalog of Led-Zeppelin.

"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp"
Today's song is a fun, whimsical look at life and man's best friend. If you have the LP version of Led-Zeppelin III lying around, dust it off, give the wheel a spin and join me for track nine, clocking in at 4:20, a most enjoyable song, "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp."

Jimmy Page has been a fan of folk music since he first picked up a guitar. With influences ranging from Bert Jansch to Davey Graham and just about anybody who was decent, Jimmy has never shied from letting his folk side emerge, be it in Zeppelin or on his own. The intro to this track is a beautiful example of his dexterity as a guitarist, as well as his use of open tunings. This isn't quite as difficult to perform as it sounds, but then again, that's the magic of alternate tunings. A couple of chord stabs, a flurry of notes, a couple more chords and then Jimmy is off to the races. It is his touch that is so awesome here. As he begins to play the notes he attacks them softly, delicately, then as he builds up to the chords he begins to play with more authority. It is these tiny, subtle, nuances that make him the genius that he is, both as a guitarist as well as a producer.

After Bonham and Jones enter Robert joins in the fun as he sings to...his dog! Strider was his name, and it is Strider that was the inspiration behind this song. And this is another example of Zeppelin separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Unafraid to try anything, even if it means singing songs to ones dog!

"Ahh...caught you smiling at me
that's the way it should be
like a leaf is to a tree, so fine...
Ahh...all the good times we've had
I sang love songs so glad
always smiling, never sad, so fine...

As we walk down a country lane
hear me singing my song, you hear me calling your name...
Hear the wind whisper in the trees
telling Mother Nature 'bout you and me..."


Now, one might not guess that this is actually about Robert's dog, but he does paint a nice picture in the "country lane" lyric. Can't you just see Robert and his Strider strolling along some beautiful Welsh dirt road, completely alone, Robert singing whatever pops into his head, while his dog trots along beside him? A man at peace with the world, enjoying a lazy afternoon, no worries, just out for a walk with his friend.

"Well...if the sun shine so bright
or our way it's darkest night
the road we choose is always right, so fine...
Ahh...can a love be so strong
when so many loves go wrong
will our love go on and on and on and on and on and on..."


I love this verse, it is so positive, "the road we choose is always right" and when he questions if the love will last, the way he repeats on and on...etc, you get the feeling that he isn't asking this, rather stating a fact that it WILL endure. Another run through the chorus and this leads us to a change that is just so cool. Jimmy gets in some nice slide playing without the aid of a slide, just fingers, and Robert seems to be having a blast.

"My my, la de la,
come on now it ain't too far
Tell your friends all around the world
ain't no companion like a blue-eyed merle...
Come on now and let me tell ya,
what you're missing, messin' 'round them brick walls..."


That last line is too funny. Robert is trying to communicate with his dog the best way he knows, through song, and Strider is tending to business over at the wall! The music breaks down to just Jimmy again, as in the intro, and again he displays some wonderful folk lines as only he could do. This leads us right back to another verse, where the truth of the song is finally revealed.

 "So...of one thing I am sure
is a friendship so pure
as you're singing all around my door, so fine
Yeah...ain't but one thing to do
spend my natural life with you
You're the finest dog I knew, so fine
When you're old and you're eyes are dim
there ain't no old shep gonna happen again
We'll still go walking down country lanes
I'll sing the same ol' songs, hear me call your name..."


Robert sums up perfectly the relationship between a man and his dog in the line about "singing all around my door." If you have a dog you know what he means here, when, after being away, however short the time or however long, you return home and there is your dog, barking, jumping, licking, just flat out adoring you and so happy that you have returned to him. Dogs are one of God's greatest gifts to man, they love us UNCONDITIONALLY! Think about that. That is perfect love! And when you treat a dog with love and respect, they love you even more! They protect you, they cuddle with you, they shower you with love and affection, as well as lots of kisses! We train them to do things and do they complain? No, they learn and come back for more. They share our joy when we are happy and they comfort us when we are sad. Hats off to Robert for this song about man's best friend!

It should be noted that Robert has actually put his dogs to work since Zeppelin disbanded. In 1985 when he released the video for "Little By Little" Robert owned a greyhound, the famous racing dog, and Robert can be seen playing with him in the video as well as some wonderful footage of the dog doing what greyhounds do best, RUN! And in 1994, during the filming of the Unleded video, when the band took to the rock quarry, the dog that is roaming around is Robert's. If you knew what the dogs name was...well, you wouldn't believe it. Definitely a humourous touch on Plant's behalf.

There is a lot going on musically in this song that is so fun besides the lyrics and Jimmy. Bonzo is awesome, his hi hat and...spoons! create a cool off-beat that is so difficult to simulate. At least for me, maybe that's why I play guitar and not drums. At the first chorus he enters with hand claps (or spoons) and it's the timing and how he does this off the beat of the guitar that just blows me away. It sounds so simple, but try to clap along, and see if it doesn't throw you off.

Jonsey plays an acoustic bass and flows so sweetly through the song. It would be interesting to know exactly what he contributed to this song as far as songwriting. Usually one can tell the part(s) that are pure "Jonsey", but here it's a bit more difficult.

"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" was written in the Welsh cottage, named, aptly, Bron- Yr-Aur. A tip of the hat should also go to Bert Jansch on this song, because it bears an uncanny resemblance to Jansch's "The Waggoners Lad." An electric version, known as "Jennings Farm Blues" was even tried and appears in bootleg form on a couple of sources, most notably the CD titled "Jennings Farm Blues."

Led-Zeppelin performed this track live quite often, beginning in 1971 in the United Kingdom through the following year when they hit the states. In Japan, the UK and European dates from 1972-73 Jonsey employed a stand up bass! In 1975 this was also performed at the infamous Earls Court shows, and in 1977, when the acoustic set returned, they played this as a medley with "Black Country Woman." Robert would sometimes end the live versions this way: "I'll sing the same ol' songs, you'll hear me call your name...STRIDER!"

"Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" is Zeppelin exploring their folk roots and having fun in the process. A great song, fun to jam to, sing along to, and a unique look inside the music that influenced all facets of the band

"Hats Off To (Roy) Harper"
Tonight's journey takes us back in time, to October 1970, a little gem of an album titled Led Zeppelin III, track 10, clocking in at 3:41, "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper".

WHHHAAAATTTTT the hell is that? My initial reaction upon hearing this track for the first time. Forgive me, I was all of 12 years old and had yet to discover delta blues. The opening is quite bizarre, but I kept finding myself pulled back, time and again to this song. Jimmy and Robert, just jamming blues. Paying homage to their early influences. Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White, Son House, there's a little of all of them plus others in here. And hey, you gotta love that songwriting credit to Charles Obscure.

Though this may not be everybody's cup of tea (Dave Lewis hates it) I find it to be a rather enjoyable look at, yet again, another side to the Zeppelin legacy. Jimmy plays some very loose and funky slide acoustic guitar while Robert goes for broke on the vocals. With lines like "I ain't no monkey, sure can't climb no tree..." and "if that don't get that woman I'm sure my shot-gun will" Robert conjures up images of run down pubs and dusty crossroads where blues fall down like rain.

We also get a few lines that show up later on down the road in "Custard Pie", the "put on your morning gown, put on your nightshirt mama, we're gonna shake 'em on down", only here he sings that line in reverse. A little thing, but I think it's cool. Interestingly, on the bootleg "Studio Daze", there's a track called "Blues Medley" that this song was actually born out of. It's about seven minutes of Jimmy and Robert jamming and throwing in snippets of "Feel So Bad", "Fixing To Die" and "That's All right Mama", a very cool studio outtake/jam that gives a little insight to how they sometimes approached writing.

Since I first heard this song I have become a huge delta blues fan, and really I owe that to Zeppelin. The fact that this song made me investigate the origins of this music has given me years of wonderful listening experiences and opened my own guitar playing/ songwriting to new possibilities. And who said Zeppelin never gave anything back to their influences.

Though they never played this song live, I'm certain it would have made for a great in-concert song. The interplay between Jimmy and Robert in a live setting could have opened the door for a great 10 minute jam covering all kinds of influences and songs that inspired them. Maybe on the new tour!?!

As for Roy Harper? Some eccentric English musician that Jimmy is fond of. He has played on a couple albums of Roys and even jammed live with him. Never heard him myself, but if Jimmy likes him...

So check this out if you haven't already, as well as the blues players who influenced this song. You'll be glad you did.