Black Dog (song)
|Single by Led Zeppelin|
|from the album Led Zeppelin IV|
|B-side||"Misty Mountain Hop"|
|Released||8 November 1971
2 December 1971 (7" single release date)
|Format||7 inch 45 RPM|
|Recorded||December 1970 - March 1971, Headley Grange, Headley, England|
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock|
|Writer(s)||Jimmy Page/Robert Plant/John Paul Jones|
|Led Zeppelin singles chronology|
"Black Dog" is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin, the opening track on their fourth album (1971). It was released as a single in the U.S.A and in Australia with "Misty Mountain Hop" as the B-side, reaching #15 on Billboard and #11 in Australia.
In 2010, the song was ranked #300 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Music sociologist Deena Weinstein calls "Black Dog" "one of the most instantly recognisable [Led] Zeppelin tracks".
The song's title is a reference to a nameless, black Labrador retriever that wandered around the Headley Grange studios during recording. The dog is unrelated to the song's lyrics (although the line "Eyes that shine burning red" is reminiscent of the Black dog legend), which are about the desperate desire for a woman's love and the happiness it provides. Plant's vocals were recorded in two takes.
In an interview, he explained the difficulties experienced by the band in writing the song:
I wanted to try an electric blues with a rolling bass part. But it couldn't be too simple. I wanted it to turn back on itself. I showed it to the guys, and we fell into it. We struggled with the turn-around, until [John] Bonham figured out that you just four-time as if there's no turn-around. That was the secret.
Built around a call-and-response dynamic between the vocalist and band, ""Black Dog"'s start and stop a cappella verses were inspired by Fleetwood Mac's 1969 song "Oh Well." (Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes performed "Oh Well" on their 1999 tour, and included it on the album Live at the Greek.)
Although it has an apparently simple drum pattern, the song's complex, shifting time signature was intended to thwart cover bands from playing the song. Jones originally wanted the song recorded in 6/8 time but realised it was too complex to reproduce live. In live performances, John Bonham eliminated the 5/4 variation so that Plant could perform his a cappella vocal interludes and then have the instruments return together synchronised. If the volume is turned up loud enough, Bonham can be heard tapping his sticks together before each riff. Page explained this in an interview with Guitar World magazine in 1993:
He did that to keep time and to signal the band. We tried to eliminate most of them, but muting was much more difficult in those days than it is now.
Page also discussed how he achieved his guitar sound on the track:
We put my Les Paul through a direct box, and from there into a mic channel. We used the mic amp of the mixing board to get distortion. Then we ran it through two Urei 1176 Universal compressors in series. Then each line was triple-tracked. Curiously, I was listening to that track when we were reviewing the tapes and the guitars almost sound like an analog synthesizer.
Page's solo was constructed out of four overdubbed Gibson Les Paul fills. The sounds at the beginning of the song are those of Page warming up his electric guitar. He called it "waking up the army of guitars" — which are multitrack recorded in unison with electric bass guitar to provide the song's signature.
"Black Dog" became a staple and fan favourite of Led Zeppelin's live concert performances. It was first played live at Belfast's Ulster Hall on 5 March 1971, a concert which also featured the first ever live performance of "Stairway to Heaven". It was retained for each subsequent concert tour until 1973. In 1975 it was used as an encore medley with "Whole Lotta Love", but was hardly used on the band's 1977 concert tour of the United States. It was recalled to the set for the Knebworth Festival 1979 and the 1980 Tour of Europe. For these final 1980 performances, Page introduced the song from stage.
When played live, Led Zeppelin often played the first few bars of "Out on the Tiles" as the introduction for "Black Dog", except for the 1973 tour where the riff from "Bring It On Home" introduced the song. Also, the "ah-ah" refrains were sung in call-and-response between Plant and the audience.
Page's guitar playing prowess is well demonstrated in different recorded performances of the song from Madison Square Garden in July 1973, as seen in the group's concert films The Song Remains the Same and Led Zeppelin DVD. The Song Remains the Same version had roughly two minutes cut from the song (from 5:48 to 3:54), going from the first "ah-ah" refrain to the guitar lead, cutting out the third and fourth verse and the second "ah-ah". This short version is also on the 2007 re-release of the soundtrack, but the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD has the full version.
"Black Dog" was performed at the Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the O2 Arena, London on 10 December 2007. A cover version of the song with video was released in 1988 by Newcity Rockers on Critique/Atlantic Records in the US and Mercury Records in Europe. This is the only cover version to achieve US Billboard Hot 100 status peaking at #65. The song was put into immediate rotation on MTV. In an interview with MTV, Plant stated that he was dropping the song from his current live tour. The song is played a whole step down.
Plant sampled the song on his solo tracks "Tall Cool One" and "Your Ma Said She Cried in Her Sleep Last Night". Page and Plant performed an updated version of this song on their 1995 tour. "Black Dog" was the first song performed by Page and Plant at the American Music Awards, which kicked off their first tour together in almost fifteen years. Plant also played a version of the song during his solo tour in 2005, as is included on the DVD release Soundstage: Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation. Former Deep Purple-singer David Coverdale's band Whitesnake released the song "Still of the Night" in 1987 which has often been cited similar to "Black Dog"; later, when Coverdale toured with Page in 1993, they played both songs together. Plant and Alison Krauss regularly covered "Black Dog" during their tour of US and Europe in April and May 2008. It also features on their appearance on the Country Music Television show CMT Crossroads, recorded in October 2007. Plant recently performed Black Dog at the Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale, MS.
|Classic Rock||United States||"The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time"||1995||18|
|The Guitar||United States||"Riff of the Millennium"||1999||7|
|Rolling Stone||United States||"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"||2010||300|
|Q||United Kingdom||"1010 Songs You Must Own!"||2004||*|
|Blender||United States||"The Greatest Songs Ever!"||2005||*|
|Bruce Pollock||United States||"The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000"||2005||*|
|Q||United Kingdom||"The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks"||2007||1|
(*) designates unordered lists.
Formats and tracklistings
1971 7" single (US/Australia: Atlantic 45-2849, Angola/South Africa: Atlantic ATS 568, Argentina: Atlantic 2091175, Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 10103, Brazil: Atco 2091175, Canada: Atlantic AT 2849, Cape Verde: Atlantic ATL N 28-118, Ecuador: Atlantic 45-73502, France: Atlantic 10 103, Greece: Atlantic 2091 175, Holland: Atlantic ATL 2091 175, Italy: Atlantic K 10103, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1101A, Mexico: Atlantic 2207-024, New Zealand: Atlantic ATL 88, Philippines: Atlantic ATR 0033, Portugal: Atlantic N 28118, Singapore: Stereophonic 10103, Spain: Atlantic HS 775, Sweden: Atlantic ATL 10.103, Turkey: Atlantic 72 500)
- A. "Black Dog" (John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant) - 4:56
- B. "Misty Mountain Hop" (Jones, Page, Plant) - 4:38
1971 7" radio edit (Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1001A)
- A. "Black Dog" (Stereo) (Jones, Page, Plant) - 4:56
- B. "Black Dog" (Mono) (Jones, Page, Plant) - 4:56
1973 7" single (Venezuela: Atlantic 5-011)
- A. "Black Dog" (Jones, Page, Plant) - 4:56
- B. "Rock and Roll" (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) - 3:40
|Chart (1972-1973)||Peak position|
|Australian Go-Set Top 40 Singles Chart||9|
|Canadian CHUM 30 Chart||14|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||11|
|Germany (Media Control AG)||22|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||22|
|Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)||20|
|New Zealand (RIANZ)||10|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||6|
|US Billboard Hot 100||15|
|US Cash Box||9|
|US Record World 100 Top Pops||10|
Single (Digital download)
|Chart (2007)||Peak position|
|Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart||59|
|UK (Official Charts Company)||119|
|US Billboard Hot Digital Songs||66|
Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.
- Steve Huey. "Black Dog review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 July 2013. "Black Dog" [is] a convincing demonstration of why Led Zeppelin was arguably the greatest hard rock band of all time."
- Scott Floman. "Led Zeppelin". Retrieved 2 July 2013. "“Black Dog” is best known for Plant’s horny a capella vocals (inspired by Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well") that lead into memorable riff-based hard rock"
- Jon Bream (2010). Voyageur Press, ed. Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time. ISBN 978-0760339558. "[Led Zeppelin IV] balances the blues-rock grind of “Black Dog” against the sun-dappled utopianism of “Going To California”"
- "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - May 2010". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- Deena Weinstein (1991), "Listener's Guide to Heavy Metal" in Heavy Metal: A Cultural Sociology, New York: Lexington Books, ISBN 0-669-21837-5, p. 278
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- ROCK SONGS "The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time - 1995". Jacobs Media. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- "Riff of the Millennium - December 1999". The Guitar. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- "1010 Songs You Must Own! Celebrity Choices - September 2004". Q. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- "Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own - January 2005". Blender. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- "The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 - 2005". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
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- "Black dog in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Led Zeppelin"
- "Led Zeppelin - Black Dog". Charts.de. Media Control.
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- "Led Zeppelin – Black Dog – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
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- [http://www.geocities.com/muggy59/1972.html[dead link] "Top 40 for 1972 - February 1972"]. Record World. Retrieved 2009-01-19.[dead link]
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- Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
- Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7