Physical Graffiti

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

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LZ IV

 

"Custard Pie"
From "Physical Graffiti", track one clocking in at 4:13, "Custard Pie".

Jimmy gets this rocker started off with a biting, distorted riff, then John Paul enters in with a cool bass line, and things explode from there. Turn your speaker balance to the left to really hear John Paul's bass on this one. Robert's lyrics are quite funny here, borrowing heavily from Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down" and Sonny Terry's "Custard Pie Blues", but who really cares? This is Zep having fun.

Robert plays some cool blues harp, Jimmy rips out another kickin' solo and you can just see the smiles on their faces as they worked on this in the studio. A fun song to have blasting in the car while blowing down the interstate. Though they never performed this live they did at least rehearse it for the 1975 tour. Probably one of the most widely used songs after Zeppelin. You all remember "Tall Cool One", on the record and especially live, where Robert played through the first verse. Jimmy also played this on his 1988 solo tour, and his happens to be my favourite version, throwing in licks from "The Ocean" and dropping right in to "Black Dog" for a quick line and then stomping right back to the main riff of .."Pie".

Jimmy and Robert also played this on the No Quarter tour, towards the latter half. A very cool song with the band just kicking back and enjoying a good jam. So have a nice feast, eat plenty of turkey, but "when you cut it mama, please save me a slice... I like your Custard Pie...

"The Rover"
I remember back in the early days of Digital Graffiti, the original Led Zeppelin mailing list that I first joined, someone posted a piece on which songs by Zep were “filler.” I sat horrified as I read some of the comments… it seemed a lot of people didn’t care for “Fool In The Rain,” which I found unbelievable. But then, one guy drew a line in the sand when he mentioned “The Rover.”

That was it for me… I couldn’t bite my tongue anymore; I had to enter this debate and I did so with a fervent position! How could anyone consider “The Rover” filler? This was simply absurd. That was in early 1997 if memory serves, and now in 2011, I am going to put to rest once and for all any silly notion that this great song is merely filler.

So pull out your copy of “Physical Graffiti,” LP one, side one, track two, clocking in at 5:37 of pure awesomeness and get ready to be schooled in the ways of Led Zeppelin!

Bonzo is the first to enter and he does so with all the force and authority of the hammer of the Gods. This intro is such a signature staple, so instantly recognizable when you hear it, that there is absolutely no denying who is behind the kit or that this song is going to smack you right upside the head… in a good way, of course!

Then Jimmy enters with a resounding low E note and allows that note to wash over you, reverberating through your head for a couple of seconds before he brings out the first of his great riffs in this piece.

At :24 seconds in we get the second great riff, and one of the heaviest Jimmy has ever written. Working bent notes into the riff and using a Phase Shifter to give it its own particular sound, the riff works in a very hypnotic way as it repeats through the series of notes until Bonzo leads us into a third section that has a very upbeat, melodic quality to it with Jimmy playing sliding power chords and then Bonzo, in a beautiful and perfectly placed pattern on the kit, brings us to the first appearance of Robert.

I’ve been to London
Seen seven wonders
I know to trip is just to fall


And right here, Jimmy’s riff is so powerful and righteous that it is most easily described as being perfection personified.

I used to rock it
Sometimes I’d roll it
I always knew what it was for


And again, Bonham is absolutely brilliant here. His drumming in this song is one that I would direct any young, aspiring drummers to listen to if they wanted a crash course in rock drumming. Not only what he plays is brilliant, but the little fragments of time where he pauses – the “what-you-don’t play-is-as-important-as-what-you-do-play” - is exhibited with the touch of a master on this piece.

There can be no denyin’
That the wind‘ll shake ‘em down
And the flat world’s flying
In the new flag on the land

If we could just join hands
If we could just join hands
If we could just join

In fields of plenty
When Heaven sent me
I saw the kings who ruled them all
Still by the firelight
And purple moonlight
I hear the rusted rivers call…

And the wind is cryin’
Of a love that won’t grow cold
My lover she is lyin’
On the dark side of the globe…

If we could just join hands
If we could just join hands
If we could just join hands…
Yeah – yeah – yeah – yeah…


And now we reach another section of the song, Page, Bonham and Jonsey locked into a tight groove that gives the impression of Jimmy just pounding on his Les Paul. The music here is like a caged lion, just chomping at the bit to be let loose.

You got me rockin’ when I ought-a be a –rollin’
darling Tell me darlin’ which way to go
Hear me rockin’ baby then you keep me stallin’
Won’t you tell me darlin’ which way to go
That’s right!


And then, as if this song has not given us enough already, we are treated to one of the best solos Jimmy has ever laid down on tape. In just under :30 seconds Jimmy puts on a clinic when it comes to soloing within the context of a rock song. The solo never takes away from the song; instead, it only enhances it, taking the music to new heights as he starts out playing some very fluid and melodic notes, allowing the music to breathe, before finishing with a mini flurry that brings us right back to Plant and his lyrics of hope.

Oh how I wonder
Oh how I worry
And I would dearly like to know
I’ve all this wonder
Of earthly plunder
Will it leave us anything to show?

And our time is flyin’
See the candle burnin’ low
Is the new world risin’
From the shambles of the old?

If we just join hands
If we could just join hands…

That’s all it takes
That’s all it takes…


And from that point on the song burns with a slow groove that sees Bonzo and Jonsey locked in tight as Jimmy plays some more heavy riffs and then some funky soloing, the second solo section the same as the first, but an octave higher.

This is one of THE defining songs in the Zeppelin catalog. It literally has everything and it’s all accomplished in less than six minutes. Filler? Are you kidding me?

“The Rover” began life in 1970 as it was originally intended to be an acoustic blues song, presumably to be included on “Led Zeppelin III.” Then it was recorded during the sessions for “Houses Of The Holy” and after it was left off that album, Jimmy revisited it, adding overdubbed guitars and remixing it for “Physical Graffiti.” The end result is, to say the least, quite stunning.

And this just furthers the point that this song is NOT filler. Not by any means. You don’t spend five years working on a song that is just filler. A “filler” song is one that is written at the last minute to “fill” out an album. Well, I have news for that guy who said this was filler – “Physical Graffiti” had plenty of material! This song was included because it kicks serious butt and because Jimmy and the group thought highly enough of it to keep working on it until it was perfect. It’s one of the rare occasions where Robert writes lyrics that don’t deal with love or loss and instead focuses on the world and the need for everyone to join together. Although it began life over 41 years ago and was released over 36 years ago, the message is still as pertinent today as it was when it was first released. That’s actually a sad statement… not about the song… but about how our world has failed to progress over that span of time.

Zeppelin rehearsed this song for the stage, but ultimately it was only used as an introduction for “Sick Again” on the 1977 US tour. The opening riff is played for roughly :45 seconds before seguing into the closing track from “Graffiti.” I will never forget the first bootleg I found of Zep’s ’77 tour and when I heard the intro to “The Rover” I freaked out. This was long before the Internet and news traveled slowly. We didn’t have set lists within an hour of a show being played, it often took months – and bootlegs – for us to find out what was played on a tour if the band didn’t hit our city. The other thing about the old days was that many times the bootlegs would list songs incorrectly. So seeing “Sick Again” and hearing “The Rover” was not surprising. It was, however, rather deflating when they stopped and then went into “Sick Again,” proving, yet again, that had they not played songs with such long solos in them, they could have played more of their catalog and “The Rover” certainly would have been a great song to hear live in its entirety.

In this song you have Plant singing as beautifully as ever, with insightful and thought-provoking lyrics, Jonsey holding the bottom end down and locked into a constant groove with Bonzo, and Page puts on a clinic of the highest order when it comes to riffing, soloing, song construction and melody.

This song personifies that old cliché about Zeppelin being the Hammer Of The Gods! Think what you want about this song; just don’t ever tell me to my face that this is a “filler” song… lest the Hammer Of The Gods will unleash its furious rage all over your head! 

"In My Time Of Dying"

While the last SOTD was a track that was full of doom and possessed an eerie quality to it, today’s song takes us right to the graveyard. A dark, foreboding song that harkens back to the early 1920’s yet was turned into a majestic tale of woe by the mighty Led Zeppelin. From the album that has more EPIC songs on it than any other, dig out your copy of Physical Graffiti, side one, track three, clocking in at a stunning 11:05, making it the longest studio track ever recorded by Zep, the ominous “In My Time Of Dying.” Jimmy starts this one off with some demonic sounding slide guitar in an open “A” tuning. When Bonham joins in, it is with a thunderous roar. Three heart-pounding beats on the kit, echoing Jimmy’s ferocious riff, which repeats three times and then things kick in for real. The trio of Page/Jones/Bonham forges ahead like a wild tiger turned loose on an unsuspecting public as the song just explodes. And then… an eerie pause as Jimmy’s guitar rings out… patiently waiting for Robert’s arrival. In my time of dying Want nobody to moan All I want for you to do Is take my body home Well, well, well So I can die easy Well, well, well So I can die easy Jesus got to make up ‘Cha know-oh… Jesus got to make up Jesus gonna make up my dyin’ bed 2 We return to the very beginning as Page’s guitar gives the impression of a snake slithering through the grass in search of its next prey. As his guitar and Robert’s voice play off of each other, the effect is extremely scintillating. When the verse sections kick in with the full band, they are so beautifully orchestrated behind Plant, giving the implied perception of a bomb that is ticking down the seconds until it ignites and destroys everything in its path. Meet me Jesus, meet me Ooh meet me in the middle of the air If my wings should fail me, Lord Please meet me with another pair Well, well, well So I can – die easy Oh-oh Well, well, well So I can die easy Jesus gonna make up {Somebody} {Somebody} Oh … oh… Jesus gonna make up Jesus gonna make up my dying bed At this point Jimmy turns everything loose with a rapid fire riff that is a barre-chord on the fifth fret, his pinky finger playing the top two strings on the 8th fret and sliding down to the 7th fret. It is one of Page’s most intense and most recognizable riffs and considering his catalog; that is quite a statement. He then kicks into another riff and the interplay between Page and Bonham is absolutely spectacular here. Bonham defines the sound of the hammer of the gods on this song; his drumming a furious blend of raw emotion and brute force. What John Paul brings to the song on the bass is yet again another example of just how tight these three were as a unit. Jonsey is constantly 3 making subtle changes throughout, adding bits here, accentuating things there; it is an absolute marvel at how beautifully he constructs his parts on this song and how perfectly in sync he is with Bonham. As Page dives back into the barre-chord riff, Plant reenters with the plea of a desperate soul. Oh – Saint Peter At the gates of Heaven Won’t you let me in? I never did no harm I never did no wrong Ah – Oh Gabriel Let me blow your horn Let me blow your horn Whoa… I never did no harm Did no harm I only can be young once I never - thought I’d do anybody no wrong No – no wrong, so… Ohhh do it… Jimmy lets loose with a ripping slide guitar solo that is simply extraordinary. The chemistry between the band is shining through and it seems as if they are on a completely different plane now. The pace is quite frenetic and yet each of them – Page/Jones/Bonham – hold everything together even when it seems that in a moment’s notice it could suddenly derail. Led Zeppelin, and particularly Jimmy, had a saying that the band was always “Tight… but loose.” Nowhere is that better displayed than on this track right now. And as much as I hate to keep repeating myself; this is another track that you just cannot fathom any other band doing and pulling it off as well as Zeppelin did. This… THIS is what set them apart from all others. 4 As Page’s slide solo reaches its apex, we are back to another vocal plea from the tortured soul of Robert Plant. Oh – I did somebody some good Somebody some good yeah So… Oh – did somebody some good yeah I must have did somebody some good yeah Oh – I believe I did I see the smiling faces I memorize the lipstick traces Ohh… Jimmy takes off on another solo, this one much more frenzied than the first as the notes are flying off his guitar at a crazed rate as Bonham/Jones keep things moving forward at a breakneck pace. Then we get to one of my favorite moments in the song where the band plays the start-stop, battering ram riff and Bonham’s drums sound like cannon blasts going off! And I see them in the streets And I see them in the field, yeah And I hear them under my feet And I know it’s got to be real Oh Lord, deliver me All the wrong I’ve done Ooh, you can deliver my Lo-ord I only wanted to have some fun Oh – hear the angles marching Marching Hear them marching Hear them marching Marching 5 Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Je-ee-sus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus My Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Je-ah-oh Ah my Je-hey, yeah, That's got to - be my Jesus, whoa-whoa It’s got to be It’s got to be my Jesus It’s got be Oh… It’s got to be my Jesus Oh-ah, take me home… During the entire “It’s got to be my Jesus” section, Bonham is just stunningly amazing. He’s constantly adding new things in, little fills, amazing drum segments that one might overlook if they’re focused on the vocals, but it simply must be stated how incredible he is here. Check out his playing at 8:41-8:44 and 8:49-8:52 and 8:57-8:58 and 9:00-9:02. After Robert sings “Oh-ah, take me home” Bonham plays an absolutely spine-tingling fill that just builds and builds. Come on, come on I can hear the angels singin' Oh - here they come, here they come, here they come Bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye Oh, it feels pretty good up here, pretty good up here *Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus Oh my Jesus* Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, yeah Oh, I see Him Come on, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take, take 6 Ooh, yes, come on, Ah, oh yeah Oh, going to make it my dyin', dyin', dyin' Cough… One thing that has always set Zeppelin apart from any other band is their sense of humor; leaving things on their recordings that most bands would cringe at. Like ringing telephones, squeaky bass pedals and now… a coughing attack, presumably by John Bonham, and Plant, being quick-witted, sings “Cough.” I just crack up every time I hear the end of this magnificent song. And… not only is that on the track, but you also get some great conversation between Bonham and Andy Johns, the engineer on the album, when Bonham says: “That’s gotta be the one, hasn’t it?” To which Johns replies: “Come have a listen then.” And Bonzo, being the polite Englishmen says: “Oh yes, thank you.” This is the kind of priceless stuff that sadly, record companies and most bands today would be too afraid to actually release. But there again, the humor of Led Zeppelin trumps all. I’ve been listening to this song for over 30 years and I still laugh when I hear that part. It’s just classic and I am so thankful that the band weren’t too proud to leave things like this off their records. It reveals a human side to their rockstar; god-like status and I truly believe that fans like it so much because they can relate to it. Editor’s Note: In regards to the * beside the lyric near the end where Robert repeats the phrase: “Oh my Jesus” I have to admit that I hear something different and I know this has long been a discussion amongst Zeppelin fans. What I hear is: “Oh Georgina.” Whilst writing this SOTD, if you knew how many versions of “In My Time Of Dying” that I have listened to, your head would probably explode. There were numerous live Zeppelin versions… both from my own bootleg collection as well as You Tube, several Outrider versions and several Coverdale/Page versions as well as several Black Crowes/Page versions. Never once did I hear “Oh Georgina” in any live version. I always heard “Jesus.” But I have to give credit to Tangerine Man, a member on FBO, for responding that it is in fact “Jesus” on the 7 album version and since I can’t be certain, I will take his word for it. It should also be noted that if you want to hear the best representation of this song live as it relates to the album version lyrically, then look no further than any Outrider shows, because John Miles sings the lyrics that Robert sang on the album whilst still doing some improvisation at times. There are lyrics that are difficult to understand, places where Robert just doesn’t sing clearly enough, but Miles does a great job filling in those gaps. One line in particular is after the “I see the smiling faces…” That next line is difficult to discern on the record, but Miles clearly sings: “I memorize the lipstick traces.” That line, following the “smiling faces” line, makes sense too. It could be a not-so-subtle metaphor for Plant’s seeking absolution for his time spent in company with the groupies. And as much as I have defended David Coverdale in the past and in the SOTD series, he was absolutely no help at all in the live setting, because he just mumbles sections that are difficult to hear on record, proving to me that Coverdale didn’t even know what was being sung. The origins of this song date back a long time, as I stated previously, and one of the earliest known recordings is from Blind Willie Johnson in 1927. Blind Willie was a preacher and musician and his music was steeped in blues, but sung from a gospel approach. His version of this song, titled “Jesus Make Up My Dyin’ Bed” is vastly different from Zeppelin’s in that Johnson’s is sung from the perspective of a Christian who knows that death is soon approaching and he believes that Christ is preparing a place in Heaven for him. {Jesus, Make Up My Dyin’ Bed} Zeppelin’s version however, is from the depths of a soul who is begging for forgiveness and salvation, as evidenced by lyrics like: ‘Oh Lord, deliver me, all the wrong I’ve done… Ooh, you can deliver me Lord; I only wanted to have some fun.’ It was after Robert’s car crash whilst on vacation with his family that this song became a bit disconcerting for him. The overall vibe of the song hit a little too close to home perhaps 8 and he wasn’t very excited about singing the song in concert. While the band played it throughout the 1975 tour, preceding Robert’s crash, on the 1977 tour, after his crash, it was used only occasionally, with “Over The Hills & Far Away” taking its place in the set. Since the 1977 tour, the only time Robert has sung it was at the O2 reunion in 2007. The song has long been a favorite of Jimmy’s however and he has played it on his Outrider Tour in 1988 as well as the 1993 Japan tour with David Coverdale in the Coverdale/Page project and during his brief time touring with The Black Crowes. Some notes about Page’s post Zeppelin performances of this song: On the Outrider Tour he would always play “Midnight Moonlight” with “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” included and this was played on his famous Danelectro guitar. He would then play “In My Time Of Dying” and would typically introduce it by saying, ‘Even though I’ve got the same guitar, we’re not going to do the same song.’ This was actually a false statement by Page, as the Danelectro used for “In My Time Of Dying” in 1988 had a shorter pick-guard. Also, the tuning for the two songs – “Midnight Moonlight” and “Dying” - are completely different. As discussed in prior SOTD’s, the tuning for “Midnight Moonlight” is D-A-D-G-A-D and when playing “In My Time” live, he played in Open G tuning. There’s a famous video bootleg from Page’s show in Arizona in 1988 and when he introduces “Dying” and says the bit about ‘having the same guitar’ he’s actually plugging in the chord for the new guitar while he says he’s using the same one. On the Outrider Tour, singer/keyboardist John Miles did an exemplary job singing the song. In fact, Miles was outstanding on all of Page’s songs, covering Plant and Paul Rodgers {The Firm} equally well. On the Coverdale/Page tour the song took on a whole new level of chaos… and I mean that in the best possible way. The song was actually played slightly faster than in Zeppelin or on the Outrider Tour and Coverdale used it as a vehicle to show off his incredible vocal range and Page seemed to thrive on Coverdale’s vocal prowess as the 1993 versions are some of the 9 most intense I’ve ever heard. While he remained mostly faithful to the original lyrics, David did change one line when he sang: ‘And I see them in Osaka…’ and he also included lines from “Gallows Pole” toward the end of the song. This was not uncommon though, as Plant would sometimes add lines from “You Shook Me” in as well, or, “Honeybee” as he did at the 2007 reunion show. While Page typically played his Danelectro on this number live, in 2007 at the O2 reunion, he employed a Gibson ES-350 Electric Archtop for that performance. This was also another number that Page brought out in the movie “It Might Get Loud” as Jack White and The Edge played along with him. On a totally unrelated note; when Grant Burgess held the 1997 Led Zeppelin Convention in Buffalo, New York, a group of us brought our instruments and played a night of Zeppelin tunes for the other fans that made the trip. The day before the show or maybe it was the day of the show, I’m not exactly sure now, but either way, we held a rehearsal and if I recall correctly it was at Ed Zeppelin’s house. There were a slew of us present and we all took turns jamming, rehearsing songs, and one of the songs we rehearsed, but sadly didn’t play, was “In My Time Of Dying.” I cannot recall why we didn’t play it at the jam that night, but the rehearsals of it were a blast. Whether or not any recordings exist of said jam is beyond me. Throughout their 12 years as an active recording and touring band, Led Zeppelin wrote/recorded and performed some of rock’s most epic songs, and in the case of “In My Time Of Dying,” this was certainly one of their most grandiose songs of all time. It signified everything good about Zeppelin and also kept that magnificent mystique intact as the lyrics and mood of the song are so indicative of. It is a song that I never tire from hearing and one that will live on forever.

"Houses Of The Holy"

Today I thought we'd step back to 1975, from the Physical Graffiti album, side two, track one, ( track four on the CD), clocking in at 4:01, "Houses Of The Holy".

Jimmy gets things rolling with a fun riff, then Jonsey and Bonzo enter with a mighty *duhn duhn*, and the groove is underway. The pace that Jimmy sets in the first few notes is quite exciting, and they keep it going through out the song, never letting up, never straying from the course. Jimmy throws in some neat little licks here and there, and his playing on this song is inspiring and contagious. You just can't listen to this without getting happy and wanting to dance. "Let me take you to the movies, can I take you to the show... Let me be yours ever truly Can I make your garden grow... From the houses of the holy, we can watch the white doves go... From the door comes Satan's daughter, and it only goes to show... And you know..." Uh, actually Robert, I don't know. This is one of those songs where his lyrics leave me a little confused. While his singing is cool, and later in the song he really sounds like he's into things, how do we go from "making your garden grow", ( a bit of sexual slang perhaps?), to Satan's daughter coming through the door? Then check out the next line. "There's an angel on my shoulder, In my hand a sword of gold... Let me wander in your garden, and the seeds of love I've sown..." Now these are pure flower child lyrics, Robert has a ' 60's flashback. Wandering through gardens and seeds of love, but where is this thing going? Is there more here than just what's on the surface? Am I the only one who has had a difficult time trying to figure this out? Does anyone care? :) That certain element of *light and shade* is there, good versus evil, but why start the song out like a love song? "So the world is spinning faster, are you dizzy when you're stoned... Let the music be your master, will you heed the master's call..." You have to listen to Bonzo on this song. Really pay attention to him, cause he makes this whole thing SWING. On just about every verse he throws in a few subtle changes, never playing exactly the same thing. One major reason Zeppelin's music has continued to thrive through out the years is because of the talent of this man, John Henry Bonham. The way he approached every single song is just amazing. The ultimate artist. "Said there ain't no use in crying, Cause it will only only drive you mad... Does it hurt to hear them lying, Was this the only world you had..." The only thing driving me mad are these confounded lyrics. Once again a new direction, something not even hinted at prior to this. Who the hell is lying Robert? Oh well, the words fit, and they rhyme, maybe that's all I need to worry about. I gotta believe there's something deeper here, I just can't bloody find it! Of course, to make things worse, he goes back and repeats the first verse, so what is it? Love song, good versus evil song, or song with absolutely no relevant meaning whatsoever? You decide! All in all, this is certainly not one of the Zep classics, but, a fun song. A very good highway driving 85 mile per hour kinda song, just don't try to figure it out. Zeppelin never performed this one live. In a way it would have been neat to hear this though, cause Bonzo is so good here, and Jimmy's playing would have been very excited and, in a good way, chaotic, in a live setting.

"Trampled Underfoot"

Today we will journey back to 1975 and little gem about, oh wait a minute, I have to say this next part, it's in the contract, IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YOU MUST LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! STRONG SEXUAL CONTENT BELOW! Ok, now that that's out of the way, a nice little gem about, well let's not be shy about it, sex. And cars. Cars and sex? Oh yes, that's why Mr. Ford came up with the idea in the first place. A perfect marriage the two, really. Come on, see for yourself. From the Physical Graffiti album, disc/LP one, track four, clocking in at 5:38, "Trampled Underfoot." In a similar fashion to "Night Flight" this track has a very brief intro and then jumps right into the vocals. Jonsey sets the pace with a slightly off the wall riff from the keyboard. Bonham joins in and when the vocals and guitar enter a funky new Zeppelin is unveiled. Robert's vocals are on the edge in a very cool way. His excitement for this track shows a raw, sexual energy that he exudes so well. "Greasey slicked down body, groovy leather trim... I like the way you hold the road, mama it ain't no sin... Talkin 'bout love, Talkin 'bout love, Talkin' 'bout" That lick that Jimmy plays following the chorus is so cool. Every one reading this can hear that lick, even without the song playing. It stays locked in our brains, it's clever, it's catchy, and it flat out grooves. Then he goes into the DA-DUHN, DA DA DA DA DA DA DUHN part and again it sticks with us. Such a short riff, but what an effect. What's that? Where's the sex in this? Well check this out: "Trouble free transmission, hot your oils flow... Mama let me pump your gas, Mama let me do it all..." Oh yeah, just the way he says "pump your gas", you can feel the tension rising. Uh, sorry, no pun intended. Lyrics in music relating cars and sex were nothing new, you can go back to when cars were first made and find references in song, from Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry, right up to the present day. What I love about this song, and the way Robert treats it, is the vocals are somewhat buried and sung somewhat slurred, making it difficult to catch exactly what he's saying, then he gives these subtle hints: "Talkin' 'bout love", as if there were really any doubt. "Check that heavy metal, underneath your hood... Baby I could work all night, believe I got the perfect tools..." Do you see the pattern here, as the song moves along, the lyrics reveal a little more each time. A little more of that sexual innuendo comes through. Classic Plant. Oh, and is he the modest one, "Baby I could work all night!" It's not always up to just you Robert, you need the perfect partner to "work all night." "Model built with comfort, really built with style... Special, it's tradition, Mama let me feast my eyes..." Oh come on now Robert! "Mama let me feast me eyes?" I hate this line. He surely could have come up with something better than that. This is typical metal rhetoric. And you put down Coverdale? But he makes up for it in the next line: "Factory air-conditioner, heat begins to rise... Guranteed to run for hours, mama it's the perfect size" Well that's better, still a bit full of himself, but that's ok. I love the humour in his lyrics. Who knows, maybe he's being dead serious, but it's so over the top that you have to see his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. The music in this song really doesn't change much, you have a very repetitive riff, a chorus, a change, a riff, and it all pretty much repeats over and over. You have that breakdown section near the middle, a mini jam and then it's more of the same from there on out. And you know what? They make it work. It never gets old. It never gets boring and at the end you want to hear the song again. That's creating excitement in your music. They did this sort of thing a lot, take a couple of ideas, arrange them accordingly, and make it work for five minutes or longer. Again, this shows the genius in their writing, knowing what they could do within the framework of a song and still keep it fresh. "Oh yes, fully automatic, comes in every size makes me wonder what I did, before we synchronized..." John Paul's contribution on this track is so wonderful. His talent was always on display, though sometimes you have to really pay attention to hear it. His subtle ways of enhancing a track aren't the first thing to grab your attention, but you would most assuredly notice if they were missing. Jimmy adds little touches of flavour, the wah wah pedal here, some backwards echo there, again, little subtle things that help make the perfect track. "I can't stop talking about love... and my baby, my baby, my baby yeah." And I can't stop talking about the magic that was Led-Zeppelin. I swear there are times when I hear a song for the 1,177th time, and yet I hear something new. It amazes me. That happened again today with "All My Love", but that's another story. Did Zeppelin play this live? Oh yeah. From the time it emerged on record, 1975 to the end of their journey, 1980. Some of the live renditions would grow quite long, 12, 13 minutes, and the jamming was at a furious pace. A crowd pleaser, a fun song, a good song to drive down the highway to. Of course, if you're in the car when this is on, chances are you just might not be driving after all. And if you are...(be careful!) Robert brought this out on his 1988 solo tour and even did a smoking version with Jimmy at the Hammersmith Odeon that same year. Too bad this wasn't played at the Atlantic 40th anniversary jam. Next time you get behind the wheel, crank this one up.

"Kashmir"

So here we are, the final two SOTD‟s and I feel that I could write for hours about both of these tracks and still not say all that can be said for these epic moments in the Led Zeppelin catalog. As the recent ones have been pretty long, I fully expect this one, and the next, to be massively long. Not only were the songs themselves quite lengthy, but their place in Zeppelin‟s history, rock history, and our very own consciousness dictates that they be given the utmost respect and in attempting to do that I am certain that I will be elaborating on these for quite a few pages. I promised a wild journey for this particular song, and believe me, it is. So get your bags packed and let‟s head back to “Physical Graffiti,” side two, track three, clocking in at 9:41 – oh wait, that‟s not right – clocking in at 8:32, the song that Robert has said is the one that best defines Led Zeppelin, the incredible and most epic, “Kashmir.” For those of you too young to know a time when LP‟s ruled the day, the original pressings of “Physical Graffiti” listed “Kashmir” incorrectly as being 9:41… and to clarify one thing to anyone who may get confused, when I mention the lengths of the songs in this series, I always go by the album length. For some odd reason, CD‟s tend to add a second to songs… so if you‟re thinking I am constantly getting the time wrong on the songs, I‟m not. The CD‟s just add a second of silence to them. Though not released until 24 February 1975, the origins of this particular track date back to 1973. Following the 1973 US tour, Robert was on holiday in South Morocco, and this is where the first inspiration for the lyrics was developed. The guitar is tuned to the same tuning as “Black Mountain Side/White Summer” – D-A-D-G-A-D – and gives the song its strong Eastern quality. As noted prior, Jimmy had been using this tuning since The Yardbirds, and had been experimenting with it 2 quite a lot and the result was “Kashmir” as well as “Swan Song,” which would later become “Midnight Moonlight” in The Firm. Page‟s riff makes the song sound absolutely monstrous and there are a number of reasons for this. One, the tuning is not something any other rock guitarists were using at the time, so it just sounded like something beyond what anyone had ever heard; two, the low E note dropped down to D adds a heaviness to the song and three, Bonham‟s bass drum was treated with a phasing effect that helped give it that extra THUMP you hear, and more importantly – feel - as this song plays out. This was also a very rare occurrence when Page brought in outside session musicians to add strings and horns to the track, which were written by John Paul Jones. In an interview, Jones explained the idea and thought process behind the arrangement: "The secret of successful keyboard string parts is to play only the parts that a real string section would play. That is, one line for the First Violins, one line for Second Violins, one for Violas, one for Cellos, one for Basses. Some divided parts [two or more notes to a line] are allowed, but keep them to a minimum. Think melodically.” Life for this song began as a Page/Bonham demo titled “Driving To Kashmir” and is featured on the fantastic bootleg “Oh My God!” In the distant background you can hear Plant singing along, though it‟s obvious that he is nowhere near a microphone. The demo lacks the strings, horns and Jonsey‟s keyboards, but it still packs quite a wallop and remains, to this day, one of my favorite bootleg tracks ever. {Special thanks to Dave for a copy of this} Another thing that makes this song so amazing is the drumming of John Bonham. His input on this song was so monumental that he was listed as a co-writer in the song credits. That is very rare for a drummer, but it shows how much his input contributed to the overall quality of the piece. And listening to this track and what Bonham does – and, as Plant has said, “It was what he didn‟t do that made it work.” – One can‟t help but be completely mesmerized by the drums in this song. I could write a plethora of pages just about his drumming here, but it is very important for every musician to understand 3 the key part of Plant‟s comment, and that is; what you play is important, obviously, but what you leave out, the little gaps, the spaces between the notes, those are just as important if not more-so. And, lastly, we have to look at Robert‟s lyrics in this song. Once again – and I have said it a thousand and one times by now – but once again he proves his tremendous gift with words. Eloquent would be the way I would describe these lyrics, and his delivery of them is fabulous as well. Page‟s riff begins everything and the riff is a repeating, cyclical riff. It‟s not difficult by any means, as he frets only two strings and makes use of the open strings, but the cool part of the riff is the bass note stays the same as the higher notes change, and that creates a beautiful tension within the riff. This is called, in musical terms, a “pedal point.” It is used to similar effect in the Whitesnake song “Still Of The Night” by guitarist John Sykes, a huge fan of Page. After this riff plays through a couple of times, Robert enters the picture with his beautiful lyrics. Oh let the sun beat down upon my face Stars to fill my dreams I am a traveler of both time and space To be where I have been To sit with elders of a gentle race This world has seldom seen Talk of days for which they sit and wait When all will be revealed Page changes things up here with a very cool descending riff. It‟s played quickly as each chord is only played once as he makes his way down the neck and it is the opposite of the pedal point of the main riff in that here, the high note stays the same for each two chords he plays as he moves down the neck. The first chord of this sequence has him fretting the 12th fret 4 on the high E string {now tuned to D remember} and the 12th fret on the G string. He plays that once, then frets the G string on the 11th fret while the 12th fret on the high E {D} remains the same. Then he slides down to the tenth fret and plays the same pattern, then the seventh fret, then the fifth fret, then the third fret and then he finishes the riff with a descending 3 note riff on the D string {4th string} playing the 3rd fret, 2nd fret and then the open D, allowing him time to get back down to the 12th fret to start the entire riff all over again. While he‟s doing this, the original riff is still being played under this riff, and Page said in a Guitar World interview in 1998 that: “You do get a dissonance in there, but there‟s nothing wrong with that. At the time I was very proud of that.” Page is also a noted fan of dissonance and often listens to music that employs this. Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace Sounds caress my ear Not a word I heard could I relate Story was quite clear Whoa –oh Whoa – whoa As Page runs through the descending riff again Bonham signals a change in things, his playing from 2:11-2:15 is stunning, and the musical landscape is altered as Page plays a chordal riff that gives the effect of stabbing the guitar. The chords are short, quick shouts from the Danelectro as Plant reaches for the Heavens with his voice. Ooohhh Baby, I’ve been flying Lo-ord – yeahhh Mama there - ain’t no denying 5 Oh… Ooohhh yes I’ve been flying Ma-ma-ma Ain’t no denying No denying… After another run through the descending riff, Page changes things up again with a beautiful G chord as the strings really kick in, adding a celestial quality to the track. Oh… All I see – turns to brown As the sun Burns the ground And my eyes – fill with sand As I scan – this wasted land Trying to find Trying to find Where I’ve been – ahhh… As Robert extends the final word in that line as only he can, Jimmy returns to the original riff and Bonham settles back into the steady groove following his amazing playing in the previous verse. Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace Like thoughts inside a dream 6 Heed the path that led me to that place Yellow desert screen My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon I will return again Sure as the dust that floats high in June We’re moving through Kashmir Oh, father of the four winds Fill my sails Across the sea of years With no provision but an open face Along the straits of fear Whoa-oh – Whoa-oh Whoa-oh-ohhh Ohhh… Ohhh… After Page runs through the descending riff two more times the whole song climbs to yet another wonderful height and what Bonham plays through this section is some of the most amazing stuff he‟s ever done. He‟s such a pleasure to listen to on this song and all the subtleties that he brings to the table truly take this song to a place that, quite simply, nobody else could have imagined. He is, in a word; brilliant! Oh! When I want – when I’m on my way, yeah When I see – when I see the way you stare Yeah… 7 Ooh-ooh, yeah-yeah Ooh-ooh, yeah-yeah When I’m down Ooh-ooh, yeah-yeah Ooh-ooh, yeah-yeah When I’m down So down… Ooh my baby Ooh my baby Let me take you there Oh – come on, come on Oh, let me take you there Let me take you there Ooh-Ooh, yeah-yeah Ooh-Ooh, yeah-yeah Now to highlight certain areas of Bonham‟s amazing skill; check him out at these parts: 6:46-6:48 {sounds simple, but what touch!} 7:08-7:11 – 7:19-7:22 – 7:32-7:34 – 7:42-7:46 {amazing!} 7:55-7:57 {reiterating that what you leave out is so important} 8:06-8:09 and finally, crank your stereo up to hear him from 8:18-8:21. And of all those amazing things he does, that‟s only the final minute and forty-six of the song… I didn‟t even fully point out many of the cool things he does in the first six plus minutes. People have been clamoring for years for Led Zeppelin to reunite and Page/Plant/Jones have been offered upwards of $200,000,000.00 dollars to tour. That‟s 200 million with a 8 capital M. And I know I am in the very small minority, but I am glad they never did and never will; because John Bonham is simply irreplaceable. I know that Jason is good – heck, he‟s extremely good – I‟ve seen him live and heard all his albums, but he‟s not his dad and his dad was the best. “Kashmir” is all the proof anyone needs and is further proof that Zeppelin not reuniting was the right decision. I know that Page loves the music and wants, dearly, to get the band back and tour. But in this instance, I fully agree with, and support, Robert‟s decision to decline all the offers. We are all born with gifts, and when John Henry Bonham was born, he was born to be a drummer and he took that gift and made himself the best rock drummer ever. I know there are a lot of great drummers out there – I don‟t need to list them all here – but none of them have Bonham‟s touch, power, control or feel. The man sits alone atop the throne when it comes to drummers and nowhere is that fact more evident than in this song. “Kashmir” was first played live on 11 January 1975 and was played at every gig after that save for the 1977 Tampa show that was cut short due to rain and the 1980 show in Nuremburg that was cut short due to Bonzo falling ill. The 7 July 1980 show in Berlin would be the final time this song was performed live until the 1988 Atlantic Records Anniversary show. Though the show itself was a disaster – the television broadcast failed to pick up John Paul‟s keyboards, rendering a key component of this song completely useless - and Robert even flubbed the lyrics, however his keen sense of humor showed through when he repeated the verse: “Oh father of the four winds, fill my sails… again!” On Robert‟s first solo tour for “Pictures At Eleven” and “The Principle Of Moments” he would add “I can take you there, I can take you there” during the epic song “Slow Dancer,” giving an ever so slight nod to his past. On the 1993 Coverdale/Page tour of Japan, Jimmy played this and Coverdale sang it well, though he did make a few slight changes in the lyrics, most notably “My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon” became “My Shangri-La beneath the winter moon.” 9 Then, in 1994 when Page/Plant reunited for the “Unledded” project, they added this to the repertoire and this version is also quite exemplary. Including an Egyptian Orchestra, the shape of the song changed slightly, as the intro was the orchestra and Plant singing the first verse, the full band not kicking in until 1:11 into the song. This reworked version had an extended middle section and the length of the song grew to an astounding 12:27, but everyone agreed that this version was stunning and proved that Page and Plant could still bring it! In live versions Robert would change verses around, he would add certain vocalizations in, like the famous: “Woman, talking to ya!” He would often replace the word „flying‟ for „crying‟ and on the “Unledded” performance and resulting tour, he always rose to the occasion, delivering all of his trademarks as well as his usual phenomenal performance of the song he has called his favorite Zeppelin tune. Beginning with the Coverdale/Page tour, Jimmy stopped using his Danelectro guitar and instead chose to use the Transperformance Les Paul. He employed this on the Coverdale/Page tour to quickly switch from the standard tuning used on “Over Now” to the D-A-D-G-A-D tuning used on “Kashmir.” He continued using the Transperformance Les Paul on the “Unledded” show and resulting tour. In the 2007 O2 reunion show Jimmy used his wine-red Les Paul on this song and Robert‟s introduction was quite cool: “Out here, there are people from fifty countries. And uh, there‟s a gentleman there, holding up a sign that says „Hammer Of The Gods‟ which I cannot imagine if people from fifty countries would come to see that… so late in life. This is the fifty-first country.” Jason then counted the song in and they were off, once again, the Hammer Of The Gods were older, and the true Hammer – Bonzo – wasn‟t present, but the result was still pretty darn captivating. Over the 36 years since its release, “Kashmir” has been held in high regard by even the staunchest of Zeppelin critics. 10 The song has been covered so many times in so many ways that I won‟t even begin to list them all, though there are two I will mention. In 1998 a movie titled “Godzilla” was released and on the soundtrack for that movie was rap singer Puff Daddy using the “Kashmir” riff for a song titled “Come With Me.” Jimmy actually played on this, both on the soundtrack as well as on Saturday Night Live. Not that I have anything against rap, as a musician for over 30 years and as one who has studied Classical Guitar, I find myself pretty open to all music, as long as it‟s good. But the Page/Puff Daddy union is one I just didn‟t understand. That Jimmy took one of Zeppelin‟s biggest and most endearing songs and not only allowed it to be used in this context, but chose to be part of it, was mind-boggling to me. It‟s probably best that I say no more on the subject of this version except that thankfully, it faded from the public conscious quite soon. One version that I do enjoy though is by Corner Stone Cues, who redid the song as well as “Ten Years Gone” and called it “Ten Years Kashmir Mvt. I & II.” {The “Mvt” stands for Movement.} Their versions, employing a full orchestra, are simply stunning and extremely powerful. In the 2009 movie “It Might Get Loud” Jimmy pulls out the Danelectro and shows Jack White and The Edge how he plays this and again, this is one of the highlights of the film, for me anyway. You also get a great close-up of Jimmy playing the descending riff that I described earlier, so any of you guitarists out there can see exactly how it‟s done by the master himself. And one final thought on “It Might Get Loud…” Jimmy, obviously, is the highlight of the film for me. And I think he looks so cool in that movie. The grey hair, the dark suit, the journey back to Headley Grange, the moments in his home sharing his extensive record collection and the total awe in seeing how much music the guy has, plus all the times when he‟s playing his guitar or the mandolin on “The Battle Of Evermore.” It was a great film and one I am so happy they made and included the man himself in. 11 “Kashmir” has endured the test of time because it has a classic Page riff, absolutely eloquent and positive lyrics from Robert, John Paul‟s keyboards and string arrangement and of course, the mighty touch of John Bonham. It is a song that will still be popular 100 years from now, and as a band or a musician, there isn‟t anything more than one could hope to achieve.

"In The Light"

 This morning we will take a look back to 1975, the Physical Graffiti album, and disc two, track one, clocking in at 8:46, "In The Light". From the opening notes we have a sense that something special is happening. No ordinary song, this. John Paul sets the mood instantly, creating a breathtaking landscape of sound while a trance like peace fills the air around us. The music in these opening moments is so calming, you can feel you are losing yourself at once, and yet the feeling is a very positive vibe. To lose one's self in music, to block out all that is around you, and to become one with your thoughts, what better way for an artist to share their gift than to create this atmosphere. As Robert enters the mood continues, his vocal soothing and reassuring, almost like the comforting of a close friend. The message here is simple, and straight to the point: ...And if you feel that you can't go on and your wheels sinking low just believe and you can't go wrong In the light, you will find the road you will find the road... There is much to be admired in those words. "Just believe and you can't go wrong", very powerful message there. The mood suddenly changes course, as Bonzo blasts in and lifts everything up, then as they settle into the next verse section Jimmy plays a rather ominous sounding riff. What Robert sings in the first two lines of the verse are some of his most beautiful lyrics. Hey Ooh, did you ever believe that I could leave you standing... out in the cold Hey yeah baby, I know how it feels cause I've slipped through to the very depths of my soul Here he speaks as someone who's been there and done that, and not to worry, though things may be trying sometimes, I won't leave you, and you can make it through. He ends the verse by asking to share the load. "Let me share your load..." A quick note on the lyrics. In the opening I always thought he said " and your will's sinking low". In the Physical Graffiti song book they list it as I have above. To me, this makes more sense. "and your wheel's sinking low". Somehow, this just seems more like what Robert might say. It could very well be "will's", but I like the way "wheel's" sounds. It adds to the meaning. On the "share your load", I always thought he said "share your love", but that really doesn't make sense, "load" makes more sense. Just file this under more MisLED lyrics. Now, back to the song. After the verse we are taken back to Jonsey and that peaceful organ work. Robert repeats the opening lyrics and once again the song kicks back in. At this point Robert brings us some more beautifully written lines. Hey Oh oh the winds of change may blow 'round you but that will always be so Oh whoa whoa when love is pain it can devour you but you are never alone At this point the song really lifts up, Robert singing how we all need the light, and the interplay between Jimmy and Bonzo is absolutely incredible. Jimmy has overdubbed guitars all over the outro, each playing little lead lines, complimenting each other and adding to the good feeling in the music, while Bonzo again shows his diversified talents. As if the entire song isn't good enough, what they do on the outro just makes it that much better. Quite a special song. Certainly John Paul is the focal point here, his playing so inspiring, and the band compliment each section so well. This is a perfect example of four musicians working as one. Sadly, Zeppelin never offered a live reading of this number. How special that could have been on the 1977 tour. Take out "No Quarter" and insert this one. Many would complain because "No Quarter" was such a live staple, but this would have made for a very interesting concert song. Several tidbits about "In The Light". Originally this song started out as "In The Morning". Certainly different than "Light", and the CD that I have of them working on this song is extremely interesting. A neat insight to the Zeppelin way of songwriting. Though I've never heard Bach's Cantata No.140: Wachetauf, Ruft uns Die Stimme, 4th movement, it is said to bear an uncanny resemblance to the opening of "Light". To me "In The Light" represents Zeppelin at their most positive. The main point of the song, as I see it, is that we all go through trying times, struggles, and bouts of questioning things in our life, but keep faith in one's self and know that your true friends are there. The "winds of change" will always be around us, but greet them and conquer them and learn from them. This is how we grow spiritually, and in the end, it makes us as people, the better for it. Quite a lot of heavy stuff in an eight minute song, huh? This is one more reason that Zeppelin are so special to me. Because every once in a while they took a moment to reflect on life and sometimes provided answers, sometimes they just told us that hey, ya know, we go through the same stuff as you, the fan. And that's why we feel such a close bond to this group of musicians. One final thought: If "Kashmir" is the great "Sex Song", that love-making romp to the land of blissful ecstacy, then "In The Light" is the cigarette afterwards. Another case in point that the running order on Physical Graffiti is perfect, as is.

"Bron-Yr-Aur"

This may go down as one of the shortest SOTD’s yet. Not because the song isn’t worthy of being written about, it certainly is. But mainly because the song is another instrumental and the song is so short on record. Of course I am talking about “Bron-Yr-Aur,” Jimmy’s acoustic, quasi-classical piece from “Physical Graffiti,” LP two, side three, track two, clocking in at a mere 2:06. Named after the cottage where Robert suggested they retreat to in order to get away from everything and focus on writing for their third album, this is about as beautiful as it gets. Jimmy utilizes an open C6 tuning for this piece, and for you guitar novices out there, you tune your guitar, from low to high, like this: C-A-C-G-C-E It is another in a long line of Page compositions that is just so enjoyable to play. It’s a bit difficult to learn if you aren’t used to playing classical guitar, as it requires a lot of finger picking to accurately perform it, but it is certainly worth the effort to get your skill to the needed requirement because this is a song that everyone loves. I remember being 14 and having a Led Zeppelin poster on my wall and my dad walked in my room, looked at the poster and just gave me that look. You know the look – that look that asks: What are you doing with this crap? I simply told my dad to hold on, pulled out my “Physical Graffiti” album and played this song. I could see his “impression” changing as the song played. I’ve also played this at weddings where I was to play prior to the wedding and one couple had me play it during their Unity Candle Lighting moment. It is a song that can be played in any environment to any group of people and it is always very well received. 2 If you play guitar and are not familiar with this C6 tuning, my suggestion to you is to get started immediately. I have written a number of songs in this tuning and there are so many beautiful sounds that you can get out of your guitar with this tuning that you cannot get when the guitar is tuned regularly. They say, in real estate, that the three most important things are: Location – Location – Location. And the same can be said about the placement of songs on an album. And side three of “Physical Graffiti” is just pure perfection. “In The Light” – “Bron-Yr-Aur” – “Down By The Seaside” – “Ten Years Gone.” My God man… that’s some amazing music and “Bron-Yr-Aur” fits so perfectly between “In The Light” and “Down By The Seaside” that it’s almost too good to be true. The piece itself has so many beautiful sections and certain notes that ring out that one might be inclined to believe that Jimmy is using overdubbed guitars here; he isn’t. It is just an example of a beautifully written song and Page playing it with a passion that pulls you in and fills your soul with something that is quite virtuous. The closing is another stunning section as Page retards the final few notes that are picked and then strums that final chord and it just rings out like an echo drifting through a wide canyon. It is, in a word, epic. Sadly, Jimmy only performed this during Zeppelin’s sixth US tour in 1970 and is on the “Blueberry Hill” bootleg. Why Jimmy didn’t dust this off for the “Unledded” project or play it on his Outrider Tour is beyond me, because it is too beautiful to have gone over 40 years since being performed live.

"Down By The Seaside"

Turn with me won't you, to Physical Grafitti, disc/lp two, song three, clocking in at 5:15, the very lovely "Down By The Seaside." A happy, bouncy feel from this selection. The simpleness grabs you at first, and the pleasant feel perks you right up. But the mood in the lyrics tells quite a different tale for sure. My take on this song may differ from everyone else, but that's ok, this is what it says to me. First of all, I recall the very first time I heard this song, on vinyl, (yes, I know, showing my age), and the impact it had on me. Think of any other rock band that's ever been around, can you picture them doing this song? I can't. This is one of those great showcases for the mighty Zeppelin- Doing what no one else could even fathom. The music creates a landscape for us, and Robert paints a very compelling picture in the lyrics. The feeling I get from this song is that he's questioning why so many people except the norm. Rather than take a stand for something they believe in, rather than follow their heart, rather than live in that element of total *everything could fall apart at any moment*, rather than LIVE their lives, they take the safe approach. They except things as they are, they don't question why, if they feel emotions, they surpress them, if they are confronted with change, they fear it, they in effect, begin to stop living. Why? The eternal question I suppose, but I am one of those who will never stop asking: Why? "Down by the seaside, see the boats go sailing... Can the people hear, oh, what the little fish are saying..." Oh, oh, the people turned away, oh, the people turned away" You can picture the scene, a ritzy yacht club, all the people out enjoying their weekend, relaxing on the open sea, and yet missing completely the beauty of that which surrounds them. Caught up in their own lives, ignoring their fellow man, hell, for that matter, ignoring their wives or husbands and of course the kids are no where in sight, can't have them around to interfere. People doing what they THINK is fun, what they THINK is living, but in pursuing these ideals they lose sight of what life is really about. Why not go to that picturesque setting with the one you love, and allow your self to shower that person with all the love you have. Not just a quick kiss and a pat on the back, but bask in their presence, allow yourself to be completely consumed with them, kiss him/her so passionately that the love gods become jealous, lose sight of all that is around you and feel love that is alive, growing, facing the obstacles in your journey as one, and conquering them. That is what living is truly about. "Down in the city streets, see all the folk go racin', racin'... No time left, no no, to pass the time of day... Hey hey yeah, The people turned away, The poeple turned away, so far away, so far away... See how they run, see how they run, see how they run, see how they run," The music takes a sudden and abrupt change, driving now, relentless, as if trying to convey a certain emotion, grabbing the listener and shaking them, "pay attention here", it screams, you are missing the picture, you are asleep, you need to start realizing what is going on around you. Wake up, for Christs' sake!!!! "Do you still do the twist, do you find that you remember things that well... I wanna tell you some go twisting everyday, though sometimes it's awful hard to tell..." Robert is speaking but is anyone listening, do you do the twist, can you remember how, there are some who still do, but in a world where we are taught to keep emotions in tow and don't rock the boat, and don't do anything that would have others get upset with you, and whatever you do don't you dare wander outside the lines, well, it's kind of hard to tell. "Out in the country, hear the people singing... Singing 'bout their progress, knowin' where they're goin'..." In the above stanza Jimmy plays some very beautiful licks. A slight, dare I say, country flavour to them. The lyrics are reflecting positiveness. YES! There is hope. There are those who know what they want, who know how to follow their heart, stay true to themselves and know how to live their life, really live it. "Sing loud for the sunshine, pray hard for the rain... and show your love for Lady Nature, and she will come back again... The people turned away, the people turned away..." So sad, that last part, Robert offers us advice, and yet most people would just reject it. It goes against the grain, against rationale thought, and we can't have any of that. Yes, I know this has been a lot of venting, but if you knew what I've been going through lately you would understand. "Down By The Seaside" is a very beautiful song, and one that begs us to question things. At least that's how I see it. Robert's vocals are perfectly relaxed on this track. Fitting the mood just right, and his back up vocals are quite awesome in their own right. Just as Jimmy layers guitar tracks, here Robert layers the vocals beautifully. Jonsey plays some very beautiful and inspiring electric piano, and Bonham adds his usual brilliant touch, particularly during the sped up middle section. His subtlety during the main, mellow part is so enjoyable as well. Originally conceived in the cottage in 1970 in Wales with the acoustic material found on Zeppelin III, recorded for the four symbols album, and held back until Grafitti, Zep never performed this one live. Pity really. Robert then drastically altered it for the Encomium CD, and this new, slow version found it's way into the "Calling To You" jam on many of the Page/Plant shows on the first leg of the Unleded tour. Forgive the rantings of a madman, but it pains me to see how people live their life without really living at all. The living dead to be sure. So enjoy your life while you can, get out more often, do the unexpected, be spontaneous, be creative, be optimistic, tell yourself you can, not you can't, smile more, laugh more, cry more, tell someone you love that you love them, tell someone you hate that you forgive them, relish this time, don't get stressed out so much, pick more flowers, and take time to smell them, watch a sunset, watch a sunrise, chase a rainbow, pet a strange dog, take a walk in the country, take a walk in the rain, watch people that don't do these things because they are too busy, and then ask yourself: WHY?

"Ten Years Gone"

Today we will look at a song that just about every human being will be able to relate to. It’s probably safe to say that anyone reading this has, at one time or another, been in love, and when you are in love you are extremely vulnerable. It takes a considerable amount of faith to open yourself completely and let all of your walls down, and there are times when, despite doing everything you can to make it work, it just doesn’t. Today’s song takes a look at a situation that is about this very topic and since everyone can relate to it, that’s just one of the many reasons it has long been a favorite of Zeppelin fans the world over. It is a song of love and what might have been and I’m certain that all of us have at least one person in our past that we look back on and wonder… what happened to them; where are they? Why did it not work out? Are they happy now? Am I happy now? Would we be happy had we stayed together? That’s a lot of questions and the answers are different for us all. But to see how Robert dealt with this emotional issue, pull out your copy of “Physical Graffiti” and turn to side three, track four, clocking in at 6:33, the melancholy and beautiful “Ten Years Gone.” There are so many superlatives that I could use to describe this song and how each of the members in the band did something great, but the first thing that should be talked about is the music that Jimmy wrote, and then played, to make this song happen. Initially it was intended to be an instrumental piece, just as “The Song Remains The Same” was, but just as that song transpired and evolved over time, here Plant came up with a melody and lyrics as well and the result is a staggering success. Jimmy’s guitar work in this song is absolutely celestial. The opening A chord and the following picked notes are so beautifully played that we are instantly pulled into this piece within the first few seconds. 2 There’s an extreme despondency to the entire sound of the guitar and long before Plant utters a single word, we know this is a song ruminating on the sense of loss. As Jimmy plays through the intro he concludes it with a beautiful chord progression that leads us into a massive riff. The guitar in this song is tuned to Drop D – which just means tuning the low E down a step to D. That low D note adds a certain heaviness to the song and helps create a tension that fits the reflective mood. After the entrance of the riff, Jimmy treats us to another beautifully orchestrated chord progression and we also get the full effect of his “Guitar Army” as many overdubbed tracks are being used. It’s been reported that he employed as many as 14 guitar tracks on this song and listening to this section of the song, with only Jimmy’s guitar{s} playing, we get a glimpse of what this might have been like as a purely instrumental piece. Nearly a full minute into the song, Jimmy returns to the opening again as Robert opens his heart for all to see. When questioned about “Ten Years Gone” Robert stated that it was about a girl he was madly in love with who gave him the ultimatum: Me… or your music. Robert was adamant that he could not stop and so ended the relationship. And fate is sometimes quite funny. What if Robert had chosen her and walked away from a career as a singer? And I also wonder… what does she think now of Robert and the choice he made? Then, as it was Then again it will be You know the course may change sometimes Rivers always reach the sea… Blind stars of fortune Each have separate ways On the wings of ‘maybe’ Downing birds of prey Kind of makes me feel sometime We didn’t have to go But as the eagle leaves the nest 3 We’ve got so far to go… Those are some very heavy lyrics and as is typical of Robert, he uses a lot of metaphors within them. He also pulls the curtain back just a bit here as we get a slight glimpse into what must have transpired between this girl and him, particularly in the line: “On the wings of ‘maybe’.” I always get this vision of a girl – whoever this girl was, I don’t know – but I see a girl telling him; ‘Yeah… maybe it will work out, but what if it doesn’t? Then what?’ As funny as it may sound, I can understand where the girl was coming from. At the time, Robert was nothing. He was singing in local bands, probably barely scraping by, and nobody could have predicted the massive success that would soon follow. The line: “Downing birds of prey” is, to me, symbolism for every person who has ever put another in the position that this girl was putting Robert in. It’s the killing of someone’s spirit; taking their very life-blood from them by forcing them to give up on their dream in order to make the other person happy. I also find it very telling that he returns to the “bird” theme with the line about an eagle leaving the nest. Robert was being forced into a fork in the road and when one is backed into a corner like that there are only two choices… you either give in or you have enough faith in yourself and your abilities and you move on. It’s so much easier said than done, because when one factors in the bond of love, that caring for another person so much and yet that feeling in the pit of your gut that tells you that you must not give up on what you were born to do… to have that internal struggle going on and not knowing how things will turn out, but living on blind faith in yourself knowing that doing so will cause you to lose someone you love… that’s a very difficult and painful place to be. Changes fill my time But baby that’s alright with me In the midst I think of you And how it used to be… 4 Jimmy takes us out of the quiet section and lifts the mood with a beautifully constructed solo. Here, his guitar says the things that Robert can’t; we hear it whisper, we hear it cry, we hear it beg, we hear it scream, and we hear it soar. We all know that Jimmy has recorded tons of great guitar tracks, but what he plays here and the emotional level with which he plays, is simply superb. It’s the painting at the Sistine Chapel, it’s the Mona Lisa, and it helps elevate this song to an entirely new level. Did you ever really need somebody? And really need ‘em bad? Did you ever really want somebody? The best love you ever had Do you ever remember me baby? And did it feel so good? ‘Cause it was just the first time And you knew you would… More beautiful playing from Jimmy and this part has always seemed to me to represent the girl answering Robert. Was that his intention? I don’t know. But I know it works and it sounds amazingly sweet when I hear it. And then… suddenly we’re back to the heavy riff and the massive guitar army as Robert presides over it with more eloquent words. Do your eyes not sparkle? Senses growing keen Tasting love along the way See your feathers preen Kind of makes me feel sometime Didn’t have to go We are eagles of one nest The rest is in our soul… Jimmy brings us back again to the beginning section; that sad and forlorn guitar – alone - perfect symbolism for what one feels when going through a situation such as is described in this song. 5 Vixen in my dreams With great surprise to me Never thought I’d see your face The way it used to be… Oh darling – Oh darling… As the band kicks back in, Jimmy’s guitars ringing out in beautiful harmony, we hear Robert lamenting about the time passed and how he still is holding on. This is such a deeply emotional tune and one that must not have been easy for Robert to write about. Whenever someone close to you departs there is always a range of emotions; perhaps sadness one minute, anger the next… and occasionally, perhaps you think back to those times when it was just the two of you and you were madly and deeply in love and all was right in the world… and then you realize… ten years gone… Jimmy created a masterpiece of a song and Robert delivers a top notch, heartfelt, emotional statement of lost love and yet, they also painted themselves into a bit of a corner. Trying to take this song to the stage, with only Jimmy on guitar, would be an almost impossible task. They did play it live, with John Paul Jones using a tripleneck instrument that included mandolin, six and twelve string guitars {acoustic} as well as playing bass pedals, with Jimmy on the Brown Bomber; his Brown, B-Bender Telecaster. That they actually pulled it off decently well speaks highly of them, but they really needed at least one other electric guitar to fill out the soundscape of the song on the stage. They debuted this on the 1977 US tour and played it again in 1979 at the Copenhagen warm-up shows as well as the first night at Knebworth on 4 August. Then they never played it again. During the long Page/Plant tour of 1995/96, Jimmy and Robert did play it once; treating the audience in Osaka to a very special moment, and then Jimmy played it again during his brief time with The Black Crowes. The versions with the Crowes were the first time the song was played live with multiple guitars and the sound was pretty special as Page’s “Guitar Army” was finally brought to life. 6 It amazes me that “Physical Graffiti” had so many incredible songs and, as I feel and I’m sure others do as well; so many EPIC songs. We’ve already covered two of those epics from this album and there’s still one more to go…

"Night Flight"

From Physical Graffiti, disc/LP two, track five, clocking in at 3:37, "Night Flight." The doctor is waiting... An unusual beginning for a Zeppelin song: A few clicks on the hi-hat and we're there. The wonderful thing about this song is the way it almost has a pop song flavor to it, but in the hands of Zeppelin, a pop song that rocks. A definate showcase for John Bonham. OK, I know, which song isn't a showcase for this incredible talent? But man, the things he does on this song. Robert shines as well, and one thing I noticed years ago is how hard it is to sing this song. Try it for yourself. Try singing all the way through. It's impossible without totally wrecking your voice. You can tell Robert had to have dubbed in several times, and toward the latter part of the song you can hear the strain this song is putting on his vocal chords. He hardly has time to breathe, which is a very important part of singing! You can hear his voice getting just a bit weaker, tired. But then at the end he comes on strong again. I never have gotten through this song without acquiring a severe case of laryngitis! "I received a message from my brother across the water, he sat laughing as he wrote, "The end's in sight." So I said good-bye to all my friends and packed my hopes inside a matchbox, 'cause I know it's time to fly" The music for this verse part is a study in doing what's best for the song. Jimmy and Jonsey are in seperate speakers, while the drums and vocals dominate right down the middle. Jimmy's playing is rocking yet it isn't particularly noticable, as it's hidden somewhat in the mix. Same thing with Jonsey, who supports with some very tasty playing of his own. It's this display of unselfishness that exemplified what seperates Led-Zeppelin from any other band. Every single song they tried to say something totally different, using each others talents, knowing that each fourth of the band would be strong enough and talented enough to carry their own weight. The pre-chorus and chorus brings a slight change, and Bonham again shows his chops to be in perfect form. No matter how much he plays, he never steps on anyone elses toes. Everything here jells perfectly. "Oh mama well I think it's time I'm leaving nothing here to make me stay... Whoa mama well it must be time I'm going Their knocking down them doors they're trying to take me away" There's a weird swirling effect right after he sings that last line, could be Jimmy using a Leslie speaker or something Jonsey does on the organ, but to me it sounds like it's probably guitar oriented. Speaking of Page and Jones, I just love that chunky sound Jimmy gets from his guitar, especially on the chorus sections where he's just pounding those chords out. And if you pay close enough attention, you will hear some amazing jamming from John Paul, it's just far enough down in the mix, but it's there and it's hot! Sadly Zeppelin never performed this one live, though there does exist a rehearsal version from Chicago in 1973. If only they had cut the length of their solos back then and added more songs. Of course, just imagine the bootlegs we would have at our disposal if that were the case. Perhaps Jimmy and Robert will resurrect this song at some point in the future. Then again, if the vocals are as difficult as I think they are, this may perhaps explain why they didn't do it live. "Night Flight" embodies everything great about the style of Led-Zeppelin. To think they were labeled as "hype" at the dawn of their career. No hype band could do all that these guys did, and make it seem so easy. The sheer gusto which sprang forth from their energy, the equal talent evident in the band, their desire to risk, to try new directions, to not be afraid to fail, these are some of the reasons they conquered all that they did. The music is timeless! This song was first released in 1975, and to this day it still packs a wallop! That, in itself, is amazing testimony. Back to the most incredible album design in history, Physical Grafitti, track 6 on the second lp, disc, cassette... whatever, clocking in at 4:10, "The Wanton Song." Jimmy sets a very hectic pace with one of his typically killer riffs. This one is not subtle, rather it hits one upside the head with a most determined force. Bonzo is once again outstanding here. It almost seems as if Jimmy wrote some of these riffs just to see what phenomenal thing Bonham would come up with next. A very excellent performance from Robert on this song, with a new twist on an old topic. This song is about lust, moving from one girl to another while on the road, but the subtlties that he uses in the lyrics help this rise above standard rock fare. Robert has a very intelligent way of telling a story, and this is a perfect example of that. "Silent woman in the night you came, took my seed from my shaking frame... Same old fire, another flame, and the wheel rolls on..." What a classic opening line: "Took my seed from my shaking frame." That has to be one of the most eloquent interpretations of sex I have ever heard. In the next line though he says "same old fire, another flame", there is no doubting that this is one of his reflections of the groupie scene that surrounded Zeppelin so prominently. "Silent woman through the flames you come, from the deep behind the sun... It's my nightmares, my loaded gun, left me barely holding on..." At this point Jimmy takes the song through a beautiful change. Such a nice counter part to the battering riff, a little bit funky, and a welcome change of pace. That Jimmy could not only write these incredible riffs, but then always found a way to counter them with something completely different, and yet tie them together so nicely, this is what sets him apart from his peers. "With blazing eyes you see my trembling hand, when we know the time has come... Lose my senses, lose command, feel your healing rivers run..." Once again, this is pure poetry. On the surface one might have no idea what he's talking about, but when you think of the subject at hand it becomes quite clear. "My trembling hand, when we know the time has come." Whoa, what's this? Robert getting, uh, a bit nervous? Our hero? The next line is one of those beautiful lyrics that only he could deliver: "Lose my senses, lose command, feel your healing rivers run." Again, the fact that he can write a song about sex, which has been done so many times by so many people, and put a new slant on things, and be so subtle about it. Songs like this show his worth as a lyric writer. It shows his depth, it shows how far he had grown, and it shows the confidence he had gained along the way. After some reflection Robert offers up some questioning lyrics. A young man with new found fame and fortune, falling in love at every turn. Or is he? "Is it every time I fall, that I think this is the one... ooh in the darkness can you hear me call? Another day has just begun... Another day..." At this point Jimmy takes off on a most majestic and rocking solo. Ever the master of the studio Jimmy employs backwards echo and the use of a Leslie speaker for the organ effect during this break. Taking chances, exploring new territory, always looking for a new sound. Jimmy Page: Sonic Architect indeed. "Silent woman my face has changed, some who know in ways to come... Feel my fire needs a brand new flame, and the wheel rolls on... rolls on... rolls on... rolls on baby... ooohhhhhhh...." And so it goes. Robert has spent his time and now needs to ramble on. Such was the lifestyle. The Physical Grafitti album has a couple of songs that show Robert reflecting on the groupie scene around him at that time. Certainly this one is indicative of those thoughts, as well as "Sick Again." Rather interesting to see the view he had at this time. One gathers that he was tiring of it. The same old faces every tour, the same old feeling after each encounter. Almost as if he is asking why. Questioning the reason behind it. Searching for something greater, a higher purpose. Or the woman who's never been born. The angel with a broken wing. The eternal search. And the wheel rolls on... Oddly enough Zeppelin only played this in concert for a short time. In the 1975 European tour and the early shows from the same year in the US. It wouldn't be until Jimmy and Robert reunited in 1995 and started to perform it that this gem would see a live rendition again. Used with "Immigrant Song" has a segue this was a very powerful Page/Plant opening number. An awesome track that you're not likely to hear on the radio anytime soon, but never the less, a definite highlight in the Led Zeppelin catalog. And the wheel rolls on... The scene is a dark, dingy, unkempt bar on Bourbon Street. Called by the locals as Old Abby, which is short for Old Absinthe Bar, things are rather quiet this January evening in 1975. Only seven people are present. The bartender, a gruff looking man who used to be a sailor, to his left a black woman sits sipping her Long Island Tea, to her left a black man sits at a piano, playing a few sparse notes and mumbling some song no one understands. In the back of the room a prostitute leans against an old juke box. Across the room to her left a salesman stands holding his jacket, tie loosened, tired after a frustrating day of trying to sell things nobody really wants to buy anyway. To the right of the bartender stands a pretty young lady. She looks rather sad as she eyes the nicely dressed man seated at the bar. He's been here all afternoon, his head down, hasn't looked up once, he just keeps reading a note over and over. Suddenly the sound of the wind drifts in as the door that leads to Bourbon Street opens and a rather ordinary man steps in from the cool night air. The black man recognizes him and slips away from the piano. He knows the newest patron is going to want to do some playing. "Hello Stewart, the usual?" The bartender greets him and the piano player nods his head. "The usual indeed." The pretty girl asks the piano player, "So what are you gonna play for us tonight?" The piano player takes a seat at the piano and says, "Tonight, I have some friends who will be stopping by. We are going to play a little number from their upcoming album. I think they're calling it "Physical Graffiti" and it should be out sometime next month." The girl studies him hard, and then proclaims, "I think you're pulling our leg. You don't know anybody that has an album out, or is gonna have an album out. You've been coming in here for years and we've never even seen you with anybody, let alone somebody with an album." He lights a cigarette and takes a long hard drag. As he exhales he says, "Oh my dear, how wrong you are. I want you to listen close tonight, because when the album does get released, this will be the third song on the fourth side, and it will be clocking in at 3:45, it's called "Boogie With Stu." She laughs out loud and the wine she has been drinking almost runs out of her nose. She composes herself and says, "Oh, I see. I mean, I SEE! Well! Not only do you know some people with an album, that hasn't been released just yet, but they wrote a song just for you. So Mac," she turns to face the bartender, " just what have you been putting in dear ol' Stewart's drink anyway?" Just then a noise from the rear of the bar startles everyone. There is a door there, with a neon sign that says EXIT above it, and five men enter the room. Mac eyes the first man, a huge, rough looking sort, then looks back to Stewart. "Your friends Stu?" "Yeah, come on in guys." The large man looks around the room, and takes a seat at the back of the bar. The other four are carrying instruments and begin setting up around the piano area. The black woman takes a long sip of her tea, and watches the skinny guitarist closely. As he pulls out an acoustic guitar she whispers to him, "Hey, you're kinda cute, but you need to put some weight on. Come on home with ol' Stella and I'll fatten you up real good." The guitarist smiles and gives her a wink. After a few minutes the band has set up and the drummer begins playing a snappy beat. The guitarist and piano enter after a couple of bars and the few people there start to enjoy the vibe. The piano player is getting into some very tasty honky tonk, and the singer, with his eye on the pretty girl near the end of the bar, flips his long hair back and begins to sing. "Been in town my baby, we've just got to rock on... yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah darling we've just got to go home... I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop Well come on baby just rock, rock, rock... Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah honey we've been shaking all night Woah, woah, woah, woah, darling We've just got to roll right... Ahhh, ahhh, ooh my head Rock on... Rock on... The skinny guitarist takes a solo on the acoustic guitar then Stewart starts to really get down on the piano. The place is starting to rock, except for the guy seated at the bar. He still hasn't looked up from the note. "Hey babe, hey babe Hey babe, hey babe Hey babe, hey babe, Hey babe, hey babe I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop Ah come on baby just rock, rock, rock... Let's go on..."." The skinny guitarist takes another solo, delicately picking the notes, getting that bouncy feel. The band is tight, yet loose. The bass player is eyeing the prostitute in the back of the room now. Something about her just doesn't seem right. Almost...nah, couldn't be...but, well, almost looks like a guy in drag. Oh well, the bass player thinks to himself, guess I'll have to buy "her" a drink later and find out for sure. "I don't want no tutti frutti no lollipop, ah come on baby just rahhh oocck yeah..." All the musicians stop playing, except for the bearded drummer. He's playing that snappy beat again, as the singer claps along. The drummer tries to change the tempo and make the singer lose the time, the singer stays with him though and they end the song. The room is silent, then the singer breaks into a fit of laughter. Over the course of the evening the musicians jam on several blues standards and have a generally excellent time. As they finish and begin packing their equipment away the lonesome man at the bar rises to leave. The bartender says something to him, he answers and with that he's out the door, into the night. The large man who came in with the musicians ambles up to the bar and asks the bartender, "What's up with that guy? You had some really good music here this evening, and he didn't look up one single time. Not once." Mac, who was drying some shot glasses, motioned with his head to the ashtray on the bar. The large man could see what looked like a note, but it was hard to tell, as it had been burned and left to smolder in its ashes in the tray. He picked up the top left corner of the note, about all that hadn't burned away, and he could make out these six letters: Dear Jo " Ah, I see, looks like a "Dear John" letter." "Precisely", said Mac. The large man asks, "So what did you say to him when he was leaving?" "I asked him if he was gonna go after her, he does love her, you know." The large man was really consumed by this now, and he asked the bartender, "So what did he say?" "Well," Mac said, as he dried another glass, "He said he was gonna do whatever it took, if he had to take a plane, or a train, hell, he even said he would crawl if has to." The large man lit a cigarette and asked, "Think he'll get her?" Mac picked up the tip the lonesome man had left and said, "No, I don't. She does care for him very much, but, right now, I think she just needs something he can't give to her. Pity really, 'cause they made a real cute couple." "Oh, so you've seen her?" the large man inquired. "Yeah," Mac said, "Was walking out of the supermarket one day as they were walking in. They just looked so happy. Damn!" The large man thought about that and said, "Right, well look Mac, we're outta here, thanks for letting us play here tonight." Mac stepped toward the large man and said, "You know, with some more practice, your band there, they might just be good enough to actually put out an album." The large man stared at the bartender long, cold, and hard. Then a smile eased across his face and he said, "Right Mac, maybe a bit more practice." As the musicians were leaving the same way they came in, Mac asked them to leave through the other door. The one the lonesome man had left through. They obliged and disappeared into the New Orleans night. The prostitute strolled up to the bar and Mac said, "What was with that bass player? He was sure talking to you a lot, buying you drinks like crazy." "Yeah I know Mac, he actually thinks I AM a lady! Boy will he be surprised. We have a "date" in two hours at the Royal Orleans." Mac busted out laughing and said, "OK, Charlie, but be gentle with him." "Charlie", better known as "Charlene" on the street, let out a laugh and looked at Stewart, still tinkering with the piano and said to him, "Yeah, and after tonight, maybe they'll write a song about me." The pretty young girl came forward and said the singer promised to write one for her. "He did, I tell you, he PROMISED me." Stewart looked at her and said, "Darlene, you will eat your words when that album is released." The pretty young girl gave him a kiss on his cheek and sat down and began to draw her name on a napkin. The lonesome man sat outside, and through the din of the cool evening breeze, he could make out the mellow sounds of a lonesome song, wafting through the night..."Van Morrison", he thought, "hmmm." ...saw you early this morning, with your brand new boy and your Cadillac you're gone for something, and i know you won't be back...

"Black Country Woman"

Imagine a picturesque Spring day; the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the mobile recording studio is set up to capture a moment of sheer inspiration! Today, we journey back in time to 1972 and a garden outside Stargroves, owned by lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger. It’s from “Physical Graffiti,” LP two, side four, clocking in at 4:24; the majestic and rocking acoustic number “Black Country Woman.” The song begins with some chatter that is typically left off of a release, but this again shows the humor that Led Zeppelin had and gives us a brief glimpse behind the scenes as they prepare for the take that we now know so well. There’s some debate as to exactly what Eddie Kramer says in the first few seconds of this song and I don’t claim to know precisely what is said, all I can do is go by what I hear. And what I hear differs significantly from what many people believe he said. Shall we roll it Jimmy? We’re rolling on what? One? No, one again. That’s Eddie speaking to guitarist Jimmy Page, and what follows is where the confusion comes in. I’ve seen and heard people who swear Kramer says – Gotta get this airplane off – and I’ve also seen and heard people who swear he says – Don’t wanna get this airplane on. I just don’t hear either of those things being said. So… while this may be wrong, this is what I hear Kramer saying next: Trying to get this airplane on. To which Robert responds with: Nah, leave it, yeah! Jimmy’s acoustic guitar kicks in as he strums chords in an Open G tuning. Not only is this song addictive to listen to, it is also quite fun to play. Learning this on guitar so many years ago I would find it impossible to stop playing. That says a lot about Page and his ability to write great and catchy riffs, be it on electric guitar or, as here, on an acoustic. Robert enters with the first two verses and we are sort of tricked into believing this is going to be just an acoustic guitar and vocal song, but then Bonzo makes his entrance and in typical John Bonham style, he completely pulls you in and blows you away with his power, skill and extremely equable drumming. Hey, hey mama… what’s the matter here? Hey, hey mama… what’s the matter here? You didn’t have to tell me that you loved me so You didn’t have to love me mama – let me go Hey, hey mama… what’s the matter here? You didn’t have to make me a total disgrace You didn’t have to leave me with that beer in my face Hey, hey mama… what’s the matter here? Ah, that’s alright… it’s awful doggone clear Hey, hey baby… why you treat me mean? Oh, oh baby… why you treat me mean? Just after those two lines above are sung, we can hear Plant’s vocal in the distant background. It sounds like some bleed over from a previous vocal take on a different track and there’s been rumor that it’s from his vocals on D’yer Mak’er, though I can’t verify that. What is obvious though is you can clearly hear his distant voice in the background of the track. It’s also at this point that Bonzo enters and the song starts to roll like a slow moving freight train down the tracks, picking up speed as it chugs along. You didn’t have to crucify me like you did You didn’t have to tell me I was just your kid Hey, hey mama… why’d you treat me mean? You didn’t have to say you’d always be by my side You didn’t have to tell me you’d be my blushing bride Hey, hey mama… why do you treat me mean? But that’s alright… I know your sister too At this point Bonham begins to assert himself and his drumming is just such a pleasure to listen to. From the 2:24 mark to 2:26 he plays a cool little stuttering fill that he makes sound so simple, though I’m sure it’s not. This is something that permeates Zeppelin’s music throughout their catalog and is one of the reasons that Zeppelin were so far above and beyond any other band. When you have an arsenal like John Bonham on board you just have to turn him loose, stand back and watch in awe. You didn’t have to tell me that you loved me so You didn’t have to leave me mama, let me go Hey, hey mama… what is wrong with you? You didn’t have to leave like a total disgrace You didn’t have to leave me with that beer on my face Hey, hey mama… what is wrong with you? Oh but that’s alright… I feel the same way too As Plant adlibs some lines, Bonham’s infectious and furious drumming pushes the song forward and we are treated to some tasty harmonica from Plant as well. Just as Robert is vastly underrated as a lyricist, his mastery of the harmonica is also grossly overlooked. Although he didn’t play that much harmonica in the grand scheme of the Zeppelin catalog, when he did it was always a very sweet enhancement to the song. Now, now, now, now you didn’t have to crucify me like you did You didn’t have to tell me I was just your kid Hey, hey mama… what’s the matter here? You didn’t have to tell me you would be my own You didn’t have to tell me baby, let me go Hey, hey mama… what is wrong with you? Ah, that’s alright… I know your sister too The final :30 seconds or so of this tune sounds like an energetic battle between Plant’s harmonica and Bonham’s drums. Robert hits some especially sweet notes on the harp and the song ends in a rather staggered manner with Page’s guitar strumming the last few chords alone. “Black Country Woman” was initially titled “Never Ending Doubting Woman Blues” and is said to be written to Maureen, his wife at the time. At the end of the song, he originally said; What’s the matter with you, mama… never ending, doubting woman blues? John Paul Jones not only played bass on this, but added mandolin as well. During live performances he would pull out his stand-up bass, adding yet another element to the many surprises that Zeppelin had for their audiences. In concert, Zeppelin only performed this song in its entirety once, which was the 19th of June, 1972 in Seattle. During the acoustic set on the 1977 tour it was included as a medley with “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.” Robert has played it on various solo tours, beginning in 1988 on the “Now & Zen” tour; he played it in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro as well as with Alison Krauss and most recently with his Band Of Joy. This track was always a crowd-pleaser for Robert, as he would always cut loose in a live setting, his vocals rising with a fervent energy and the overall groove of the song sucking the audience in and driving the crowd to a fevered pitch. What “Black Country Woman” represents to me is one of the main reasons that Zeppelin always stood out compared to their contemporaries. They were the only hard rock band that dared venture off into some of the territory that they would so completely embrace and no matter the song or style, they always pulled it off. From “The Battle Of Evermore” to “The Rain Song” to “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” to “Black Country Woman,” they were a dynamic group of musicians intent on scaling new heights and constantly searching for new horizons.