Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day XLIX
Date: 97-04-28 06:16:38 EDT
From: OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM (Jeff Lybarger)

"In this house, Headley Grange, there was an old black was really quite old and one night it had been off doing the things that dogs do, and then came back and slept all day. It was quite a powerful image at the time (laughs) so we called it "Black Dog."- Jimmy Page. Ha! That old dog had some life left in him yet! Join me today for a look back at the classic track that kicks off the famous untitled, fourth, runes, or Zoso album, (whatever the hell it's going by now). Track one, clocking in at 4:55, a song of love, "Black Dog."

A rather unorthodox beginning to a song, Jimmy's guitar ringing out a few notes, and then a primitive wail from the golden god of cock-rock:

      "Hey Hey mama, said the way you move,
       gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove...

The band kicks in with the famous riff for the first time. A catchy, rocking riff that has stood the test of time. A riff written not by James Patrick, but by John Paul Jones! Taking Jonsey's idea and working it into the bridge, turning it around, Jimmy definately has his share of the input here, but the main seed was planted by Jonsey.

      "Ah ah child way you shake that thing,
       gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting...
       Hey Hey baby way you walk that way,
       watch your honey drip, can't keep away..."

Back to the riff, and then the change is heard for the first time, the "oh yeah" part rocks and rolls right along, grooving like a runaway train, Bonham doing things to his kit that are outlawed in all fifty states, (good thing this was recorded in England.) Jimmy's guitar has one of the most incredible tones on this song. When striving for "that perfect tone", this is one of the songs that springs to mind as having found the sweet spot. The build up during this section is so damn hot, creating beautifully the perfect amount of "tension and release", when finally things come to a halt and it's back to the acapella vocal:

      "I gotta roll, can't stand still,
       gotta flaming heart, can't get my fill...
       Eyes that shine burning red,
       dreams of you all through my head..."

In a song of this nature, where there is no doubt only one thing is on Robert's mind, to drop a line like "dreams of you all through my head" in is so tasteful. A very beautiful line that could have found it's way into the "Rain Song", "Ten Years Gone", or even "All My Love."

Now we get to the sing along section. The "Ah ah, ah ah", call and response that would never fail to involve the audience in a live setting. Droping little sections in a song like this are also a neat feeling for the band, to be standing on a stage and have an ocean of your fans singing your songs back to you.

The crunch of the next section is so awesome as well. "Oh baby, oh baby", Robert sings, and just dig the way Jonsey, Bonzo, and Pagey are ROCKIN' behind him. THAT is heavy rock my friends, you can have all the metal bands blasting bar chords all over the place, but Zeppelin shows in this section just how to be heavy, and still be creative!

      "Didn't take too long ' fore I found out,
       what people mean by down and out...
       Spent my money, took my car,
       started tellin' her friends,
       she's gonna be a star..."

Whoa, where did that come from? Is the little woman taking Robert for a ride, instead of the other way around? Perhaps he learns his lesson, as evidenced in the following line:

      "All I ask for, all I pray,
       steady rollin' woman gonna come my way...
       Need a woman gonna hold my hand,
       tell me no lies, make me a happy man..."

As they head for the finish line, (Jonsey once said this song was a race to see who could finish first), Jimmy tears into one of his most amazing solo's. The beauty in his playing can't be underestimated. You have this start/stop riff going on within the rhythm section, and Jimmy cuts loose with a barrage of notes, but every one is perfect. Certain licks are so "right", that you couldn't picture anything else being played at that precise moment. Jonsey once described Jimmy's solo as, "Fucking brilliant", and I would have to agree.

"Black Dog" first found it's way into a Led Zeppelin concert on March 5, 1971, at the Belfast Ulster Hall. It stayed in the set all the way up to the 1973 U.S. tour, then in 1975 at Earl's Court it was used as a medley with "Whole Lotta Love." Very rarely played in 1977, it did find it's way into the July 23rd Oakland show as a second encore. Returned for the Copenhagen warm-up shows as well as Knebworth. In 1980 it was played usually as the third song of the evening, complete with a spoken intro by Jimmy.

Used as part of the "Tall Cool One" sample and again when Robert quoted directly from "Black Dog" in "Your Ma Said You Cried In Your Sleep Last Night" from the Manic Nirvana CD. Jimmy threw in a touch of this on his Outrider tour, as a medley with "Custard Pie." Funny thing with this song, Robert once said he would find it sad to be singing "Black Dog" at age 50 stumbling around stadiums in America, but that's pretty much what happened, as Page/Plant brought it out on their "Unleded" tour. Of course Robert didn't stumble, and the song rocked. As usual. A rather bizarre and unusual arrangement was performed on the Andrew Denton show as well, when they were making the promotional rounds.

"Black Dog" is one of the Zeppelin monuments. Everybody knows it, fan or not, and it still receives tons of airplay on American radio. A killer song, with awesome playing, a classic moment captured on tape for all eternity!

Rock on,


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