Original 78 record label
|Single by Robert Johnson|
|B-side||"Kind Hearted Woman Blues"|
|Recorded||November 23, 1936|
|Studio||Gunter Hotel, San Antonio, Texas|
"Terraplane Blues" is a blues song recorded in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, by bluesman Robert Johnson. "Terraplane Blues" was Johnson's first single and it became a moderate regional hit, selling 5,000 to 10,000 copies.
Johnson used the car model Terraplane as a metaphor for sex. In the lyrical narrative, the car will not start and Johnson suspects that his girlfriend let another man drive it when he was gone. In describing the various mechanical problems with his Terraplane, Johnson creates a setting of thinly veiled sexual innuendo. The guitar parts in "Terraplane Blues" are similar to those in Johnson's "Stones in My Passway".
Other versions and influences
"Terraplane Blues" has been recorded by a variety of artists, including Mickey Baker, Rory Block, Canned Heat, Eric Clapton, Foghat, Peter Green, John Hammond, Jr., John Lee Hooker, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Tony McPhee, Elliott Murphy, Lonnie Pitchford, Paul Pena, and Roy Rogers. Johnson's one-time musical and travelling partner Johnny Shines recorded the song as "Fish Tail" and "Dynaflow Blues". The Led Zeppelin song "Trampled Under Foot" is regarded as a tribute to Johnson's "Terraplane Blues", with Robert Plant using car parts as sexual metaphors.
- Robert Palmer (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-14-006223-6.
- Howard Mandel, ed. (2005). The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues. Billboard Books. p. 97. ISBN 0-8230-8266-0.
- Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.