Communication Breakdown

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This article is about the Led Zeppelin song. For the film by Richard O'Sullivan, see Communication Breakdown (film). For the Roy Orbison song, see Cry Softly Lonely One. For the Chilliwack song, see Breakdown in Paradise.
"Communication Breakdown"
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin
A-side "Good Times Bad Times"
Released 10 March 1969 (1969-03-10) (US)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded Olympic Studios, London, October 1968
Length 2:26
Label Atlantic
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
ISWC T-070.027.657-8
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Communication Breakdown"
"Whole Lotta Love"
Music sample

"Communication Breakdown" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, from their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.


The pounding guitar riff was played by Page through a small, miked Supro amplifier throughout; he ran his Fender Telecaster through a fully closed Vox wah-wah pedal to create the "guitar in a shoebox" sound on the lead. "Communication Breakdown" is also one of the few songs on which Page sang a backing vocal.

Live history[edit]

The song was a popular live number at Led Zeppelin concerts, and along with "Heartbreaker", was the only song to be played during every year that the band toured.[citation needed] It usually either opened shows or was played as an encore.

In a few instances in 1969 "Good Times Bad Times" was used as an introduction to "Communication Breakdown" (as heard on the companion disc to the deluxe edition of their debut album released on 3 June 2014).

"Communication Breakdown" was the last song performed in the years of 1975 and 1979 by the band, at Earls Court on 25 May 1975 and Knebworth on 11 August 1979.


In the U.S. the track was released as the B-side of the single "Good Times Bad Times".

On the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions, released in 1997, this song was featured three times, each with a slightly different improvisation by the musicians. Three live versions–taken from performances at the TV program Tous En Scene in Paris in 1969, at Danmarks Radio in 1969 and at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970–can also be seen on the Led Zeppelin DVD. "Communication Breakdown" additionally is one of the few songs for which the group did a proper lip-sync video; this too is available on the Led Zeppelin DVD. The version of "Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown" released on 15 April 2014, on iTunes, is from 10 October 1969 in Paris, on the European Tour of Autumn 1969.


The Dictators' bassist Andy Shernoff states that Page's guitar riff of rapid downstrokes in "Communication Breakdown" was an inspiration for The Ramones' guitarist Johnny Ramone's downstroke guitar style.[6] Ramone stated in the documentary Ramones: The True Story that he built up skill at his downstroke playing style by playing the song over and over again for the bulk of his early career.[7]

The song is noted for its usage in motion pictures, particularly in a military context. In episode "G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)" of The Simpsons, during a scene which shows military recruitment, a group of soldiers play the guitar riff of "Communication Breakdown".[8] The song was also used in the film Small Soldiers.[9]

"Communication Breakdown" featured in Blender's 2003 list of "The 1,001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now!"[10]

Formats and track listings[edit]

See "Good Times Bad Times" single.


Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Case, George (2009). Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man : An Unauthorized Biography. Backbeat Books. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-87930-947-3. 
  2. ^ Courtright, Kevin (2009). Back to Schoolin'. Xulon Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-61579-045-6. 
  3. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (2006). Led Zeppelin IV: Rock of Ages. Rodale. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-60961-695-3. 
  4. ^ Kot, Greg. Led Zeppelin: Album Guide at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 March 2014). Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ Plant was later given a songwriting credit. ISWC T-070.027.657-8
  6. ^ True, Everett (2002). Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of The Ramones. Omnibus Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-8444-9413-2. 
  7. ^ Ramones : The True Story. Classic Rock Legends. B000CRSF6W. 
  8. ^ Pieslak, Jonathan R. (2009). Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War. Indiana University Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-253-22087-4. 
  9. ^ "Small Soldiers (1998) – Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  10. ^ The 1,001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 November 2010). Blender.

External links[edit]