Tea for One
|"Tea for One"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Presence|
|Released||31 March 1976|
|Recorded||Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, November–December 1975|
|Writer(s)||Jimmy Page, Robert Plant|
"Tea for One" is the last track on Led Zeppelin's 1976 album Presence. It begins with mid-tempo interplay between guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham before settling into a sotto voce groove. The song evolves into a slow blues epic, featuring lyrics which deal with homesickness and loneliness. Much of this was felt by Robert Plant, who recalls sitting alone in a New York hotel during a U.S. concert tour drinking "tea for one". Other members of the band, notably John Bonham, were also widely reported to suffer from homesickness during Led Zeppelin's concert tours.
The song recalls an earlier Led Zeppelin song in sound and style, "Since I've Been Loving You". "Tea for One" came from the desire of the band to return to their roots in order to see what had changed since they were younger.
In an interview given in 1977, Page said that the song
was the only time I think we've ever gotten close to repeating the mood of another of our numbers, "Since I've Been Loving You". The chordal structure is similar, a minor blues. We just wanted to get a really laid-back blues feeling without blowing out on it at all. We did two takes in the end, one with a guitar solo and one without. I ended up sitting there thinking, "I've got this guitar solo to do," because there have been blues guitar solos since Eric [Clapton] on Five Live Yardbirds and everyone's done a good one. I was really a bit frightened of it. I thought, "What's to be done?" I didn't want to blast out the solo like a locomotive or something, because it wasn't conductive to the vibe of the rest of the track. I was extremely aware that you had to do something different than just some B.B. King licks.
He also said Tea For One is exceptional. It was to the point, recorded in a couple of takes. Robert's vocals are tremendous. He was doing that while his leg was in a cast."
"Tea for One" was never played live in its entirety at Led Zeppelin concerts, but the introduction riff was played onstage shortly before the beginning of the acoustic set during Led Zeppelin's final show at Earls Court Exhibition Centre on May 25, 1975 and some parts of the guitar solo were incorporated into "Since I've Been Loving You" at various shows from 1977.
However, it was played in full for the first time (as a very loose rendition of the studio version) by Robert Plant and Jason Bonham joined by local bands The Ripps and Billy & The Bowel Movements during a tribute concert for local percussionist Darren Norwood held on October 1991 at the Market Tavern in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, West Midlands, UK.
"Tea for One" was only played in full for the first time (as a true rendition of the studio version) by Page and Plant during their tour of Japan where it received six airings (backed by an orchestra) on February 8, 9, 12, 13, 15 & 17, 1996.
- 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
- Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
- Dave Schulps, Interview with Jimmy Page, Trouser Press, October 1977.
- "Their Time is Gonna Come", Classic Rock Magazine: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 29.
- Led-Zeppelin.Org / Concert Dates: Page & Plant