Black Mountain Side

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"Black Mountain Side"
Instrumental by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin
Released12 January 1969 (1969-01-12)
Recorded15 October 1968[1]
StudioOlympic, London[1]
Composer(s)Jimmy Page
Producer(s)Jimmy Page

"Black Mountain Side" is an instrumental by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, adapted, without credit, from Bert Jansch's original arrangement of the traditional Irish folk song "Down by Blackwaterside". It was recorded in October 1968 at Olympic Studios in London, and is included on the group's 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.

Composition and recording[edit]

"Black Mountain Side" was inspired by a traditional Irish folk song called "Down by Blackwaterside". The guitar arrangement closely follows Bert Jansch's version of that song, recorded for his 1966 album Jack Orion.[4] Al Stewart, who followed Jansch's gigs, taught it to Page, who was a session musician for Stewart's debut album.[5] Page played the instrumental on a borrowed Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar[6] which was tuned to D–A–D–G–A–D, a tuning that he had used for "White Summer".[7][8] To enhance the Indian character of the song, drummer and sitarist Viram Jasani played tabla on the track.[6]

The overall Eastern-flavour of the structure led writer William S. Burroughs to make a suggestion to Page:

[I] did a joint interview with William Burroughs for Crawdaddy magazine in the early Seventies, and we had a lengthy discussion on the hypnotic power of rock and how it paralleled the music of Arabic cultures. This was an observation Burroughs had after hearing "Black Mountain Side", from our first album. He then encouraged me to go to Morocco and investigate the music first hand, something Robert [Plant] and I eventually did.[9]


According to Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin:[1]


In concert, "Black Mountain Side" was often performed with "White Summer".[6] A recording from Royal Albert Hall on 9 January 1970 is included on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Guesdon & Margotin 2018, p. 70.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Led Zeppelin – Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  3. ^ Spicer, Daniel (2018). The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion: Anadolu Psych 1965–1980. Watkins Media. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-912248-07-0.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Doug (1983). The Songs and Guitar Solos of Bert Jansch. New Punchbowl Music. p. 21.
  5. ^ Harper, Colin (2006). Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival (2006 ed.). Bloomsbury. pp. 99–100. ISBN 0-7475-8725-6.
  6. ^ a b c d Lewis, Dave (2004). The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. eBook. ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.,
  7. ^ Lewis, Dave (2010). Led Zeppelin: The Complete Guide to Their Music. London: Omnibus Press. eBook. ISBN 978-0857121356.
  8. ^ Popoff, Martin (2018). Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs. Voyageur Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0760363775.
  9. ^ Burroughs, William S. (1993). "Interview with Jimmy Page". Guitar World. p. 93.