Dazed and Confused (song)

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"Dazed and Confused" is a song written and performed by Jake Holmes. It was covered by the Yardbirds, and later reworked by Led Zeppelin, who hold a separate copyright on the song.[1]

Jake Holmes[edit]

"Dazed and Confused"
Dazed and Confused.png
Cover of the 1968 promotional single
Promotional single by Jake Holmes from the album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes
Released 1967
Length 3:50
Label Tower
Writer Jake Holmes
Audio sample
file info · help

Singer-songwriter Jake Holmes wrote and recorded "Dazed and Confused" for his debut solo album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes, released in June 1967. Like the other tracks on the album, the song does not include any drums. It was recorded entirely with the trio of Holmes on guitar, keyboard and vocals, Ted Irwin on guitar and Rick Randle on bass.[4][5] The song has been incorrectly labelled as a tale about a bad acid trip. Holmes himself has confirmed that this is not the case. In 2001 he gave an interview to Shindig! magazine and said this about "Dazed and Confused":

I never took acid. I smoked grass and tripped on it, but I never took acid. I was afraid to take it. The song's about a girl who hasn't decided whether she wants to stay with me or not. It's pretty much one of those love songs.[6]

In August 1967, Holmes opened for The Yardbirds at a Greenwich Village gig in New York.[7] According to Holmes, "That was the infamous moment of my life when Dazed and Confused fell into the loving arms and hands of Jimmy Page."[6] When "Dazed and Confused" appeared in Led Zeppelin's album in 1969, he was aware of it but didn't follow up on it at that time. Holmes said: "In the early 1980s, I did write them a letter and I said basically: 'I understand it's a collaborative effort, but I think you should give me credit at least and some remuneration.' But they never contacted me."[6]

In June 2010, Jake Holmes brought suit against Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page for copyright infringement, claiming to have written and recorded "Dazed and Confused" two years before it appeared on Led Zeppelin's debut album. In court documents Holmes cited a 1967 copyright registration for "Dazed and Confused" which was renewed in 1995.[7] This court case was "dismissed with prejudice",[8] as the parties settled out of court—in January 2012.[9]

The Yardbirds[edit]

During a 1967 tour of the United States by English rock group The Yardbirds, Jake Holmes performed as the opener at the Village Theater in Greenwich Village on August 25, 1967.[10] According to Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, they went to a record shop the next day to buy a copy of Holmes's album, and decided to do a version of "Dazed and Confused". They worked on it together with Page contributing the guitar riffs in the middle, and lyrical rewrite from Keith Relf.[6][7] Their version featured long instrumental passages of bowed guitar courtesy of Jimmy Page, and dynamic instrumental flourishes. Page has stated that he obtained the idea of using a violin bow on his guitar from a violinist named David McCallum, Sr., during his session days before joining the Yardbirds in 1966.[11] At that time, it even had a little Eastern influence, as can be heard on some French television appearances. The guitar passages in the breakdown emerged from the solo on "Think About It", from the Little Games lineup's last single.

"Dazed and Confused" quickly became a staple of The Yardbirds' live performance during the last year of their act. The song was never officially recorded by the band, although a live version recorded on 30 March 1968[12] is included on the album Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page under the alternate title "I'm Confused". Notably, it is the only track that has no songwriter credits on the release.[13] Another live version of the song, recorded on the French TV series Bouton Rouge on 9 March 1968, was included on the CD Cumular Limit in 2000 and was credited "by Jake Holmes arr. Yardbirds."[14]

Led Zeppelin studio recording[edit]

"Dazed and Confused"
Cover of the 1969 US promotional EP
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin
Released 12 January 1969
Recorded October 1968, Olympic Studios, London, England
Length 6:28
Label Atlantic
Writer Jimmy Page (inspired by Jake Holmes)
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin track listing
"You Shook Me"
"Dazed and Confused"
"Your Time Is Gonna Come"
Audio sample
file info · help

When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, Page planned to record the song yet again, this time with Led Zeppelin. According to Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the first time he heard the song was at the band's very first rehearsal session at Gerrard Street in London in 1968: "Jimmy played us the riffs at the first rehearsal and said, 'This is a number I want us to do'."[17] Led Zeppelin recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. "Dazed and Confused" was the second song recorded at the Olympic Studios session.

Page used a 1959 Fender Telecaster on the recording. This was one of three Led Zeppelin songs on which Page used a bow on his guitar, the others being "How Many More Times" and "In the Light". The intro of the song "In the Evening" utilised the Gizmotron rubber wheel string exciter to achieve the violin-like effects. Many often mistake this for his use of the bow.

The Led Zeppelin version was not credited to Holmes. Page used the title, penned a new set of lyrics, and modified the melody. The song's arrangement, however, remained markedly similar to the version performed by the Yardbirds the previous year.[5][18][19] Holmes' publisher Universal Music declined to get involved. In June 2010 Holmes filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, alleging copyright infringement and naming Page as a co-defendant.[20] The 2012 live album Celebration Day attributes the song to "Page; inspired by Jake Holmes", although the writer's credit with ASCAP remains unchanged.[21]

Led Zeppelin live performances[edit]

Page holding his bow up in a performance of the song in Chicago in 1975

"Dazed and Confused" was widely popularised by, and is still heavily identified with, Led Zeppelin. It became the centrepiece for the group at Led Zeppelin concerts, at least through the release of "Whole Lotta Love" from their second album. When performed live, it was (except for the fast middle section) played at a slower overall tempo, and gradually extended in duration (up to 45 minutes by 1975) as a multi-section improvised jam. Although initially performed in a manner similar to the studio version, some noticeable differences were gradually developed in live performances. By June 1969, in the section where Page plays guitar with a violin bow, the rest of the band dropped out completely, allowing him to perform a lengthier free-form improvisation, though by January 1970, the main structure of the section was already formed. By 1972, another improvised section had been added between the verses and this. The fast section was extended to allow changes in dynamics and volume, as well as changing the beat, sometimes segueing in and out of another song altogether. There was a short jam at the end of the song after the final verse.

Over time, the improvisational suite incorporated more and more material. In 1972, the song incorporated riffs from the Led Zeppelin songs "The Crunge", and "Walter's Walk", as can be heard on the live album How the West Was Won. By 1973, the song featured an extended transition before the violin bow solo, which incorporated a melody that would later be used in 1976's "Achilles Last Stand". Plant sang lyrics from either Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco" or Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" during this transition. Also, from October 1969[22] to the song's last performance in May 1975 at the Earl's court shows, the violin solo and the solo section after would incorporate "Mars" from Gustav Holst's suite The Planets, accompanied by Plant's vocalisations.

In his 1997 publication Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes, Luis Rey dissects the pattern of the song (as it was in 1975) into twelve sections, in order to demonstrate its gradual state of evolution when played live:

Stage 1: Bass intro and wah-wah interludes
Stage 2: Main vocal theme
Stage 3: Fast instrumental and 'oriental' riffs
Stage 4: "San Francisco/Achilles Last Stand" or "Woodstock"
Stage 5: Violin bow episode including echo-slapping from the guitar; interlude with Plant's 'instrumental voice'; Gustav Holst's Mars, the Bringer of War and return of the rhythm section
Stage 6: Fast guitar solo and battle with Plant
Stage 7: Slower tempo solo and 'funky' moods
Stage 8: Violent breaks and call and response interlude
Stage 9: Faster solo in crescendos and occasional break-up tempo, some occasions combined with "Walter's Walk" or "St. Tristan's Sword"
Stage 10: New arrangement of Mars, the Bringer of War (slow and fast versions) and final frenzy
Stage 11: Return to main theme
Stage 12: Coda. Final instrumental and vocal battle inside syncopated rhythms, drum-solo and final explosion.[23]

A live version of "Dazed and Confused" was featured in Led Zeppelin's 1976 concert film, The Song Remains the Same (and accompanying soundtrack), as part of Page's fantasy sequence. Other live recordings are also found on the official releases Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions (featuring two different versions), How the West Was Won, the Led Zeppelin DVD, and the reissued version of Led Zeppelin.

"Dazed and Confused" was performed on every Led Zeppelin concert tour up to and including their 1975 shows at Earls Court.[24] It was then removed from their live set, although Page continued to perform parts of the bowed guitar segment during solo spots in 1977 and 1979 (as preludes to "Achilles Last Stand" and "In the Evening", respectively). It was performed once again at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the O2 Arena, London on December 10, 2007. This performance was played a whole step lower than previous Zeppelin recordings and performances of the song.

Cultural influence[edit]

The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The song was also used as the basis for the title of the 1993 film Dazed and Confused, which chronicled the lives of various American youths on their last day of high school in 1976. However, it is not found on the film's soundtrack. The film's director Richard Linklater appealed to Led Zeppelin band members to use some of their songs in the movie but, although Page agreed, Robert Plant refused.[25][26]

The song is featured in the drama series Shabatot VeHagim, 2003 episode "Air Guitar".[27] In the television show The Simpsons, an episode of Itchy & Scratchy (1993 "The Front") has the title "Dazed and Contused", an obvious pun on the song. It was also used again as a pun ("abraised and contused") in the 2006 episode "Bart Has Two Mommies" where Ned Flanders addresses himself as Ned Zeppelin. Chad Smith and various others can be heard listening to it in the Red Hot Chili Peppers documentary Funky Monks. In 2012, the song opened the last episode of season 5 of Californication where the main character Hank Moody was dreaming that he was in hell. The song also appears in an episode of British television period set hospital drama The Royal.


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame USA "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"[28] 1994 *
Pause & Play USA "Time Capsule Inductions - Songs"[29] 1998 *
NME UK "117 Songs to soundtrack your summer"[30] 2003 *
Toby Creswell Australia "1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time"[31] 2005 *
Pitchfork Media USA "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s"[32] 2006 11
Q UK "The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks"[33] 2007 2
Q UK "21 Albums That Changed Music - Key Track"[34] 2007 6

(*) designates unordered lists.


Cover versions[edit]

With credit Page


  1. ^ Fast, Susan. In the Houses of the Holy : Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music. Books.google.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Jake Holmes – The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Floman, Scott. "Led Zeppelin". Retrieved 10 April 2013. Even better is "Dazed and Confused," (...) which was actually an uncredited cover (...) of a psychedelic folk song originally done by the largely unknown Jake Holmes 
  4. ^ Shade, Will. "Dazed and Confused: The Incredibly Strange Saga of Jake Holmes". Retrieved 2010-08-21. [unreliable source?]
  5. ^ a b "Review of The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes". AllMusic. 
  6. ^ a b c d Shade, Will. "A Tune's Twisted Tale" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-03-11. [unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b c Michaels, Sean (2010-06-30). "Led Zeppelin sued for alleged plagiarism of Dazed and Confused". The Guardian (London). 
  8. ^ The plaintiff / litigant is permanently barred from filing another case on the same claim.
  9. ^ "ORDER DISMISSING ACTION WITH PREJUDICE by Judge Dolly M for Jake Holmes v. James Patrick Page et al :: Justia Dockets & Filings". Justia Dockets & Filings. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Kaufman, Michael. "Yardbirds Complete 6th Mission to Expand Young Minds in U.S." The New York Times August 28, 1967: 36
  11. ^ Welch, Chris (ed.) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused, the Stories Behind Every Song. (Page 23) Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998 ISBN 1-56025-188-3
  12. ^ Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page (Epic E 30615) liner notes
  13. ^ Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page at Discogs Release missing songwriter credits for "I'm Confused"
  14. ^ Cumular Limit CD booklet, Burning Airlines 2000
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Mat Snow, “Apocalypse Then”, Q magazine, December 1990, p. 77.
  18. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (2008). Song Man: A Melodic Adventure, Or, My Single-Minded Approach to Songwriting. p. 129. 
  19. ^ Schinder, Scott. Icons of Rock. p. 385. 
  20. ^ "Led Zeppelin sued by folk singer for alleged plagiarism". New York Post. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "ASCAP ACE Search: 340128276, Dazed and Confused". Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  22. ^ "LEDZEPCONCERTS.COM - October 30, 1969". Ledzepconcerts.com. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Luis Rey (1997) Led Zeppelin Live: An Illustrated Exploration of Underground Tapes, Ontario: The Hot Wacks Press, p. 253.
  24. ^ Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ Led-Zeppelin.org. "Led Zeppelin Assorted Info". 
  27. ^ ""Shabatot VeHagim" Air Guitar (TV Episode 2003)". IMDb. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll - December 1994 (archive.org version)". Jacobs Media. Archived from the original on July 19, 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  29. ^ "Time Capsule Inductions: Songs - July 1998". Pause & Play. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  30. ^ Songs to soundtrack your summer "117 Songs to soundtrack your summer - May 2003" Check |url= value (help). NME. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  31. ^ Creswell, Toby (2005). "Dazed and Confused". 1001 Songs: the Great Songs of All Time (1st ed.). Prahran: Hardie Grant Books. p. 745. ISBN 978-1-74066-458-5. 
  32. ^ "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s - August 2006". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  33. ^ Greatest Guitar Tracks "The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks - September 2007" Check |url= value (help). Q. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  34. ^ Albums That Changed Music "21 Albums That Changed Music: Key Track - November 2007" Check |url= value (help). Q. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 


  • 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

External links[edit]