Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day XXXV
Date: 97-02-28 06:56:26 EST
From: OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM (Jeff Lybarger)

... and as we slipped into the mystic, one voice rose quietly above the din, "Oo Led oO, YES! Zeppelin!"... and the crowd grew silent and fell on shaking knees. Oh, excuse me, just discussing some... Arabic. Um, well, here we are, so glad you could join us today. I had the perfect song to do today but then David Geffen called and INSISTED that I look at another song instead, so you know, what the hell are you gonna do? Anyway, today we'll look at the song that signaled THE return of Jimmy Page: Riff Master. He barely scraped this surface with the Firm, got closer on Outrider, but on this song, we knew for sure he was back. So get out your Led Snake CD, you won't have to go far, today's choice is track one, clocking in at 4:55, "Shake My Tree"

Jimmy starts off the entire album with this acoustic blues lick from, well, only from the mind of Jimmy Page! Since the first single was a little of the unexpected variety, why not the first song on the album as well? Jimmy's playing is ferocious, as if the past 13 years of pent-up frustration were all coming out at once. Then, blending perfectly with the riff, and staying in league with the mood, Mr. Coverdale enters the fray.

       "Now I don't want
        to be your slave...
        You're trying to drive me
        to an early grave...

        All I ever hear
        is that you live and breath for me...
        But all you ever do, baby,
        is shake my tree..."

David has taken some flak for the lyrics in this song, but they convey a certain emotion, and his singing leaves no doubt that he's quite sincere here. The cool thing that Jimmy does during this acoustic part is not that he doubles the guitar, but the fact that one guitar is in standard tuning, the other is in open "E", playing the same notes of the riff, but a different tuning gives a somewhat slightly different timbre to the SOUND of those notes. Only Jimmy.

The bass and drums enter, and that slow process of building the track up begins. David sings with so much heartfelt emotion and Jimmy playing like his life depends on it, what a sight to witness this in the studio being recorded.

      "I told you once
       and I told you twice...
       I ain't no schoolboy you can sacrifice...
       You want my love
       and you want it now
       You try to love me baby
       but you don't know how..."

The anger, the hurt, the raw emotion, it's all right there in those words. No need to be fancy, or cute, or Shakespearian, these words tell the story all too clearly. Love that is bad, a relationship ripped apart, bitter tears shed, bloodied knuckles pounded against the wall in vain. Have you ever felt this? Then re-examine those lyrics and tell me they're no good. They are perfect for the mood of this song. It's about release.

At this point Jimmy and Denny Carmassi, the drummer, explode into perfectly timed machine gun type riffing. Start/ stop. Start/stop. Finally, as if he can hold back the emotions no longer, David jumps right into the young lady's face, and let's her have it.

       "I need love
        and I need time
        An' a little bit of both
        If you wanna be a friend of mine
        Don't want no woman
        drive me outta my head
        You're the kinda girl
        Guranteed to wreck my bed.."

Jimmy leads the band through the paces on this riff with Carmassi blasting away behind it all. The sheer power in this song is quite devastating. The riff itself, in the key of "E", is so simple, yet very effective. A middle section with short stabs from the harmonica, courtesy of Mr. John Harris, and back to the acoustic beginning, basically starting the whole thing all over again. Jimmy is the best at creating release and tension within a song. Once everything dies down and it's just Pagey on the acoustic, what a chilling effect.

        "So keep on talking baby
         no matter what you say...
         I've had enough of your kinda love
         to last me all my days..."

As they race through the pre-chorus we are in store for a wild and frantic ride to the grand finale. The band is absolutely smoking, and this is the very first song on the disc. What a way to ignite things.

        "If I see your face I'm gonna give you what's in store
         But you'll keep on pushin' baby
         Cause you've never ever been in
         Looooovvveeee....  Beforrrre"

What an amazing conclusion. So tight the band, and David reaches an even deeper level of anger. The way he screams that last "before", how he can hit those notes with such ease, and never stray from the key. Classic vocals, and tons of emotion.

And so began Coverdale/Page. Hell I had to stop the CD player the first time I heard this and recouperate. Jimmy proves in exactly 4:55 that he was, and IS still the king of riff oriented rock. Bar none.

In a Guitar World interview promoting this album, the interviewer asks the two which song best describes Coverdale and Page, and they both answered "Shake My Tree". Not too hard to see why.

"Shake My Tree" was performed live on all seven Coverdale/Page dates in Japan in December 1993. Jimmy used this as a vehicle for the theramin workout. On the final night, during the theramin, the band break into "Whole Lotta Love", and David does a fantastic job singing this. "Shake..." was also the one Page solo song to be played during the Page/Plant world tour. Played every night on the first leg of the American tour, and then pretty much dropped in favor of "Whole Lotta Love". Live, David did this beautifully, using the right amount of emotion, Robert, on the other hand, chose to sing with less than his all. Pity really, cause he could have done this song really well, had he chosen to.

One note on this song. In the studio David and Jimmy actually had another mix available, the "guitar crunch" mix, as it were. This did see the light of day on the "Take Me For A Little While" single in the box set. An elaborate package, but the "crunch" version was the same, only MORE guitars added in the electric parts.

Jimmy may have not released this song until 1993 with the Led Snake project, but, at least some of this tune was written and introduced to the members of Led Zeppelin way back in 1978, at the Polar studios. Jimmy has stated that Robert didn't have any ideas for it, and that only Bonzo really grasped the idea of this song. Now picture things turning out differently, and "In Through The Outdoor" being released with songs like "Wearing and Tearing" and "Shake My Tree" alongside "In The Evening" and "I'm Gonna Crawl". What a rocker that would have been. Jimmy also introduced it to Paul Rodgers in the Firm, but Paul didn't see it either. In fact, it was when David jumped right into this and started coming up with the lyrics and melody idea that Pagey felt very confident that things where going to work out perfectly. I just can't see how he could bottle a song this good up for the better part of fifteen years.

So enjoy this one, it's a helluva start for an album. Whence we meet again, the path chosen shall take a sharp turn...

Rock on,

Shake My Tree


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