The Lemon Song
|"The Lemon Song"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin II|
|Released||22 October 1969|
|Recorded||1969, Mystic Studios, Hollywood|
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock|
|Writer||Page, Plant, Jones, Bonham, Burnett|
|Led Zeppelin II track listing|
"The Lemon Song" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, featured on their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. It was recorded at Mystic Studios in Hollywood when the band were on their second concert tour of North America.
Lyrical and musical content
"The Lemon Song" is laced with sexual innuendo, and features some of Led Zeppelin's most blues-influenced playing. It was recorded virtually live in the studio, and no electronic devices were used to create the echo on Robert Plant's vocal. It was made solely by Plant's voice and the acoustics in Mystic Studios, which was a 16 × 16 foot room with wooden walls. Another notable aspect of this song is John Paul Jones' complex bass guitar performance.
The song borrows from Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor", which was a song Led Zeppelin often incorporated into their live setlist during their first concert tour of the United States. For the second and third North American tours the song evolved into "The Lemon Song", with Plant often improvising lyrics onstage.
Other lyrics, notably "squeeze (my lemon) till the juice runs down my leg," can be traced to Robert Johnson's "Travelling Riverside Blues". It is likely that Johnson borrowed this himself, from a song recorded in the same year (1937) called "She Squeezed My Lemon" (by Arthur McKay). The song also borrowed from Albert King's "Cross-Cut Saw".
On the early 1970s British re-issue of Led Zeppelin II, the label on the record lists "Killing Floor" as the third track and is credited to Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf's real name), while the liner lists "The Lemon Song" and credits Led Zeppelin. In December 1972, Arc Music, owner of the publishing rights to Howlin' Wolf's songs, sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement on "The Lemon Song". The parties settled out of court. Though the amount was not disclosed, Burnett received a check for US$45,123 from Arc Music immediately following the suit, and subsequent releases included a co-songwriter credit for him.
"The Lemon Song" was performed live on Led Zeppelin's first three concert tours of the United States (on the first tour as "Killing Floor"), before being dropped from their live set in late 1969. However, the 'squeeze my lemon' sequence continued to be inserted into the "Whole Lotta Love" medley and ad-libbed elsewhere.
Jimmy Page performed this song on his tour with The Black Crowes in 1999. A version of "The Lemon Song" performed by Page and The Black Crowes can be found on the album Live at the Greek. In Robert Plant's official music video for "In the Mood," in one scene he holds up a lemon while singing, as a reference back to "The Lemon Song".
- 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
- Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)
- Segrest, James, and Mark Hoffman. Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. p. 235.
- Segrest, James, and Mark Hoffman. Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. p. 299.
- Mick Wall (2008), When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin, London: Orion, p. 150