Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day XLV
Date: 97-04-07 21:41:09 EDT
From: OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM (Jeff Lybarger)

Good day everyone, I've been rather busy planting trees and taking care of final preparations for Zepfest, so the sotd series has ground to a halt. But alas, I am back, and will try really hard to get three in this week, before I start walking to Niagara! Today I am going to get a little controversial, the song I've chosen has too many possible meanings not to. Keep in mind here I will be reflecting on *stories* and *rumours* as they relate to the song. Also please keep in mind the lryics are extremely hard to decipher in certain sections, I am not printing them as the exact words, but after two hours of listening, the closest I could come. What follows is not entirely my opinion, just raising speculation. I shall offer my opinion on the following subject at a later point in time, with a future song of the day. So, carrying on now, to my personal favourite album, Presence, track four, clocking in at 6:27, "Nobody's Fault But Mine".

Much has been written, whispered, admitted, denied, and pondered over this song. Most of you, I'm sure, have heard the rumours. The story that dogged Led Zeppelin from the very beginning. The story that three of the four members had sold their collective souls to Satan for enormous wealth, fame, popularity, and everything that goes with being a *ROCK STAR*. This story of musicians selling their souls to the devil for widespread fame and fortune dates back to the violinist extraordinaire, Nicolo` Paganini, who held such an unbelievable command over his violin that surely he couldn't have achieved that all on his own. Through out history Satan has been tied to violin's and people who play them. In Goethe's "Faust", he appears with violin and bow as Mephistopheles. Remember the Charlie Daniels song, "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"? The fiddle player wins a violin if he *cuts heads*, or duals with Satan in a contest of skill and defeats him, if he loses, it's his soul that is lost. Enter one Jimmy Page, the man who plays his guitar... with a violin bow.

To those who believed in the rumours, "Nobody's Fault But Mine" offered full admittance, by the band themselves no less. This was Zeppelin stripped naked and crying on the floor, begging for mercy. Was that a cry for mercy, from the city of the damned? To those who wondered before, they were positive of the answer now. This was Zeppelin's musical exorcism, admitting the errors of their way, and seeking redemption. Would they find it? Would mercy find it's way to their doorstep? After an erie, phased out guitar intro, where Robert scat sings along, the band launch into a raucous jam, and then Robert delivers these chilling words:

       "No, nobody's fault but mine,
        well nobody's fault but mine...yeah...
        try to save my soul to light,
        Oh, it's nobody's fault but mine...

        Devil he taught me to roll
        The devil he taught me to roll, roll, roll, roll...
        How to roll that line to light,
        No-body's fault but mine..."

Pretty witchy stuff, wouldn't you agree? Certainly appears Robert is admitting to SOMETHING. The fact that he had just narrowly avoided death in a car wreck was what supposedly brought him to this place. He was no longer a young single man, he was married, had a family, and Satan had reached out and placed his icy finger where Robert would feel it the most: His home. So Robert changes his mind, heeds his own words, and feels there is still time to change the road he's on.

After this verse the song reverts back to the intro, then as it blasts back into the main riff Robert offers up a harmonica solo that burns with intensity. He hadn't played that forceful, with that much emotion and energy in years. Further proof that he was terrified for himself and his family, and was using every tool he possessed to expell these demons.

      "Somebody show me the dong
       somebody show me the ding dong ding dong...
       how to get that line to light,
       Oh, it's nobody's fault but mine...

       Got a monkey on my back,
       the mon, mon, mon, monkey on my back, back, back, back...
       Gotta change my ways tonight,
       Nobody's fault but mine..."

Enter Jimmy with a screaming guitar solo, bending notes, and spewing licks to and fro, and then it's back to the intro section once again. Then the big build up for the grand finale.

      "How to get that line to light,
       Na na na na na na na no-body's fault".

(Please note: the lyrics in line three of the third verse and at the end of the song are VERY difficult to make out, this was as close as I could come. If anyone knows EXACTLY what he sings there, please send it in to the list)

One can't say enough about the efforts of John Bonham and John Paul Jones on this song. They grab ahold of Jimmy's riff, and rock the daylights out of it. This is heavy, without being heavy metal. That start/stop riffing, a huge part of the Page style, has never been so bone-chillingly effective as it is here. It forces you to THINK about the lyrics. Don't know if they intended that or not, but it is effective.

"Nobody's Fault But Mine" was performed live beginning with the 1977 tour, and played right up till the end, including Copenhagen in 1979, Knebworth 1979, and the *Over Europe Tour* in 1980. Robert revised it as well on his solo tours in 1988 and 1990. Jimmy and Robert also revised it, and rewrote it for the *Unleded* MTV show, and included the new acoustic version on their tour, usually flip-flopping between that and the new "When The Levee Breaks". The lyrics in the new acoustic version are closer to the original written by blues gospel singer/guitarist, Blind Willie Johnson.

Which brings up another point, the original version of this was indeed written by Blind Willie Johnson, a GOSPEL singer. Was it ironic Robert chose these words to cast his exorcism? Makes ya wonder!?!

"Nobody's Fault..." is one of my favourite songs ever, and one of my top three Zeppelin songs. It rocks, it has incredible musicianship, thoughtful, and thought-provoking lyrics, and an incredible energy to it. A real *presence*, you might say. As for my personal feelings on the Zeppelin/Satan speel, you'll have to wait till I get to the "Stairway..."

Rock on,


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