Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

Subj: Song of the day IX
Date: 96-12-05 21:35:28 EST

And how are we all doing this fine evening? Hopefully everyone is quite well. I must thank all who have responded with so many kind words regarding this little idea of mine, your words mean a lot to me and eye thank you. So, let's go for another, shall we? Tonights journey takes us back in time, to October 1970, a little gem of an album titled Led Zeppelin III, track 10, clocking in at 3:41, "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rock on,


back to the SotD Home Page