Communication Breakdown

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"Communication Breakdown"
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin
A-side"Good Times Bad Times"
Released10 March 1969 (1969-03-10) (US)
Format7-inch single
RecordedOctober 1968
StudioOlympic, London
Producer(s)Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
"Communication Breakdown"
"Whole Lotta Love"
Audio sample

"Communication Breakdown" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, from their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. It was released as the B-side of "Good Times Bad Times", the group's first single in the US. A promotional video was released, with the group miming to the recording; it is included on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003).


The song was one of the first worked on by the band, shortly after formation and before they had played any gigs. It developed from a guitar riff played by Jimmy Page, while the rest of the band wrote the song around it. Bassist John Paul Jones later said "This is Page's riff – you can tell instantly".[5] Singer Robert Plant could not receive a songwriting credit owing to a previous record contract, and consequently it was credited simply to the other three band members.[6]

Live versions[edit]

"Communication Breakdown" was part of the group's initial live set in 1968. It was played at every gig until 1970, after which it was featured as an encore. The group played it on at least one show for all subsequent tours, including their residency at Earl's Court, London in 1975, the second appearance at the 1979 Knebworth Festival, and the band's final tour in 1980. Plant played it on some of his solo tours, while Jones performed it live with Diamanda Galás in 1994.[6][7]

On the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions, released in 1997, this song was featured three times, each with a slightly different improvisation by the group.[8] Three live versions–taken from performances at the TV program Tous en scène 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. 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.[9] 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.[10]

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".[11]

"Communication Breakdown" is included in Blender's 2003 list of "The 1,001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now!"[12]

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. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (2006). Led Zeppelin IV: Rock of Ages. Rodale. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-60961-695-3.
  3. ^ Kot, Greg. "Led Zeppelin: Album Guide". Archived from the original on 1 March 2014.. Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ Plant was later given a songwriting credit. ISWC T-070.027.657-8
  5. ^ Lewis 2012, p. 45.
  6. ^ a b Lewis 1990, pp. 46–47.
  7. ^ Lewis 2012, pp. 45–46.
  8. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Led Zeppelin – BBC Sessions". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  9. ^ True, Everett (2002). Hey Ho Let's Go: The Story of The Ramones. Omnibus Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-8444-9413-2.
  10. ^ Ramones : The True Story. Classic Rock Legends. B000CRSF6W.
  11. ^ Pieslak, Jonathan R. (2009). Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War. Indiana University Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-253-22087-4.
  12. ^ "The 1,001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now!". Blender. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010.


  • Lewis, Dave (1990). Led Zeppelin : A Celebration. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-711-92416-1.
  • Lewis, Dave (2012). From A Whisper to A Scream: The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-857-12788-4.

External links[edit]