Tangerine (Led Zeppelin song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin III
Released 5 October 1970
Recorded May–August 1970 (1970)
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:11
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Jimmy Page
Producer(s) Jimmy Page

"Tangerine" is a folk-rock song recorded by English rock band Led Zeppelin and released on their 1970 album Led Zeppelin III. Led Zeppelin biographer Ritchie Yorke notes, "'Tangerine' had been written by [Jimmy Page] years earlier and the Yardbirds had attempted to record it on at least one occasion".[1]

The song is based on a strummed twelve-string acoustic guitar rhythm with pedal steel guitar fills that give it a country rock sound, reminiscent of pieces by Neil Young around the time.[2] "Tangerine" has been performed in concert by Led Zeppelin at different points in their career and has been recorded by other musicians.


Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole recalls that ""Tangerine' was a song dating back to Jimmy's Yardbirds' days".[3] Page explained "I'd written it after an old emotional upheaval and I just changed a few of the lyrics for the new version".[1] Page biographer George Case suggests that it was influenced by his relationship with Jackie DeShannon, whom he had been involved with around the time.[4] On April 4, 1968, the Yardbirds recorded "Knowing That I'm Losing You'"[5] during their last recording sessions at Columbia Studios in New York City.[6] Case also notes the similarity between "Knowing That I'm Losing You" and "Tangerine".[5] Page composed the music and the Yardbirds' singer Keith Relf contributed the words.[7][8] Mick Wall, writes in When Giants Walked the Earth that the lyrics "smack[ed] of the classic flower-child-isms of Keith Relf".[2]

Measuring a summer's day
You'll only find it slips away to gray
The hours will bring you pain[9]

"Knowing That I'm Losing You", along with the other demos recorded during the group's last sessions, have been seen as half-hearted attempts by the Yardbirds to meet contractual obligations.[4][7] In 2000, several of these appeared on the Yardbirds' compilation Cumular Limit; however, Page did not consent to the use of "Knowing That I'm Losing You".

Recording and composition[edit]

Although written earlier, "Tangerine" fit in with the California-inspired folk-rock numbers that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were creating for Led Zeppelin III at Bron-Yr-Aur, their rustic retreat in South Snowdonia, Wales.[10] The arrangement and feel have also been likened to that of "'lost love' ballads from 1966–68" that had been "used effectvely on Mickie Most's Donovan sessions in the Yardbirds years when both Jones and Page were still hired hands".[7] Led Zeppelin recorded it at Headley Grange, Headley, East Hampshire, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.[10] The song was engineered and later mixed by Andy Johns at Olympic Studios in London.[10]

The song begins with a "nicely low-key, deliberate-mistake intro",[2] after which Page pauses to set the right tempo with a twelve-string acoustic guitar "strummed A minor–G–D guitar figure".[5] Plant then sings the first verses and bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham come in at the chorus. Page also adds pedal-steel guitar accompaniment and explains: "I hadn't touched a pedal steel from the first album to the third. It's a pinch really from the things that Chuck Berry did — but nevertheless it fits. It was more out of tune on the first album [for "Your Time Is Gonna Come"] because I hadn't got a kit to put it together".[1] Midsong he also includes "an elegant [electric guitar] solo that seemed to quote Jeff Beck".[11] For the choruses, Plant adds a double-tracked harmony vocal.[12]

Release and influence[edit]

"Tangerine" was issued on Led Zeppelin III on 5 October 1970 in the US and 23 October 1970 in the UK and quickly went to number one on the album charts.[2] It was included on the LP record's second side, which featured more acoustic- and folk-influenced tunes.[13] Biographer Nigel Williamson writes "Tangerine" "points the way to the future ... the acoustic guitar intro can easily be seen as an early template for 'Stairway to Heaven'".[12] During Led Zeppelin's 1971–72 tours, the song was regularly included in their sets and included on several bootleg albums[14] (see Led Zeppelin bootleg recordings). Several musical artists have performed or recorded it. For cover versions, see List of cover versions of Led Zeppelin songs, "Tangerine". The song was included for the final scene of the 2000 Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous.


  1. ^ a b c Yorke, Ritchie (1993). Led Zeppelin: The Definitive Biography. Underwood-Miller. p. 116. ISBN 0-88733-177-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wall, Mick (2010). When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-312-59039-0. 
  3. ^ Cole, Richard; Turbo, Richard (1992). Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Uncensored. Harper Paperbacks. p. 164. ISBN 0-06-109021-2. 
  4. ^ a b Case, George (2007). Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man — an Unauthorized Biography. Hal Leonard. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-1-4234-0407-1. 
  5. ^ a b c Case, George (2011). Led Zeppelin FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Hard Rock Band of All Time. Backbeat. ISBN 978-1-61713-025-0. 
  6. ^ Russo, Greg (1998). Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up. Crossfire Publications. p. 89. ISBN 0-9648157-3-7. 
  7. ^ a b c Shadwick, Keith (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music 1968–1980 (1st. ed.). Backbeat Books. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-87930-871-1. 
  8. ^ Shadwick also quotes Russo's 2001 The Ultimate Rave-Up p. 114.
  9. ^ Yardbirds Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja and Relf's sister Jane Relf attribute these lines to Keith Relf. Case 2011.
  10. ^ a b c The Complete Studio Recordings (Media notes). Led Zeppelin. Atlantic Records. 1993. 82526-2. 
  11. ^ Davis, Stephen (1985). Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. Ballantine Books. p. 121. ISBN 0-345-33516-3. 
  12. ^ a b Williamson, Nigel (2007). The Rough Guide to Led Zeppelin. Rough Guides. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-84353-841-7. 
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Led Zeppelin III – Album Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Lewis, Dan; Pallett, Simon (2005). Led Zeppelin – The Concert File. Omnibus Press. pp. 155–182. ISBN 1-84449-659-7. 

External links[edit]