German single picture sleeve
|Single by Led Zeppelin|
|from the album Houses of the Holy|
|Released||17 September 1973(US)|
|Format||7-inch 45 rpm|
|Studio||Stargroves, East Woodhay, England|
|Led Zeppelin singles chronology|
This song was meant to imitate reggae and its "dub" derivative emerging from Jamaica in the early 1970s. Its genesis is traced to Led Zeppelin's rehearsals at Stargroves in 1972, when drummer John Bonham started with a beat similar to 1950s doo-wop, and then twisted it into a slight off beat tempo, upon which a reggae influence emerged. The distinctive drum sound was created by placing three microphones a good distance away from Bonham's drums.
This track, as well as another song entitled "The Crunge", was initially not taken seriously by many listeners, and some critics reserved their harshest criticism for these two arrangements. In an interview he gave in 1977, Jimmy Page referred to this negative response: "I didn't expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious. The song itself was a cross between reggae and a '50s number, "Poor Little Fool," Ben E. King's things, stuff like that."
Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has expressed his distaste for the song, suggesting that it started off as a studio joke and was not thought through carefully enough. Upon the album's release, Robert Plant was keen to issue the track as a single in the United Kingdom. Atlantic Records went so far as to distribute advance promotional copies to DJs (now valuable collectors' items). While it was released in the US, and the single peaked at No. 20 on 29 December 1973, it was never released in the UK.
This song was never performed live in its entirety at Led Zeppelin concerts, although snatches of it were played during "Whole Lotta Love" during the 1975 North American concert tour and "Communication Breakdown" at the Earls Court shows in the same year.
"D'yer Mak'er" is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs where all four members share the composer credit. The sleeve on the first album pressing also gives tribute to "Rosie and the Originals", a reference to the doo-wop influence in the song's style.
Pronunciation of song title
In a 2005 interview, Plant discussed the different interpretations and pronunciations of the name of the song. He explained that the title is derived from an old joke, where two friends have the following exchange: "My wife's gone to the West Indies." "Jamaica?" (which in an English accent sounds like "Did you make her?") "No, she wanted to go".
The title, which does not appear in the lyrics, was chosen because it reflects the reggae feel of the song, and as an example of the Led Zeppelin band members' senses of humour. Because of the unfamiliarity of listeners to this back-story, as well as ignoring the apostrophes intentionally placed in the title, DJs and fans often mispronounce the title as "dire maker". This confusion and mispronunciation was more common in the US than in Britain, according to Jimmy Page.
Reception and legacy
In a contemporary review for Houses of the Holy, Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone gave "D'yer Mak'er" a negative review, calling it a "naked imitation", along with "The Crunge", as well as "easily" one of the worst things the band has ever attempted. Fletcher further wrote the track is a "pathetic stab at reggae that would probably get the Zep laughed off the island if they bothered playing it in Jamaica." Fletcher ended by writing the track is "obnoxiously heavy-handed and totally devoid of the native form's sensibilities."
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