The Lemon Song
|"The Lemon Song"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin|
|from the album Led Zeppelin II|
|Released||22 October 1969|
|Recorded||Los Angeles, 1969|
"The Lemon Song" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, featured on their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. It was recorded in Los Angeles when the band were on their second concert tour of North America.
Lyrical and musical content
The song was inspired by Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor", which was a song Led Zeppelin briefly incorporated into their live setlist during their first concert tour of the United States. For the second and third North American tours the song evolved into "The Lemon Song", with Robert Plant often improvising lyrics onstage (the opening lyrics to both songs are, in fact, identical).
Other lyrics, notably "squeeze (my lemon) till the juice runs down my leg," can be traced to Robert Johnson's "Travelling Riverside Blues". It is likely that Johnson borrowed this himself, from a song recorded earlier in the same year (1937) called "She Squeezed My Lemon" (by Arthur McKay). The song also references Albert King's "Cross-Cut Saw".
In December 1972, Arc Music, owner of the publishing rights to Howlin' Wolf's songs, sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement on "The Lemon Song". The parties settled out of court. Though the amount was not disclosed, Chester Arthur Burnett (Howlin' Wolf's real name) received a check for US $45,123 from Arc Music immediately following the suit, and subsequent releases included a co-songwriter credit for him.
"The Lemon Song" was performed live on Led Zeppelin's first three concert tours of the United States (on the first tour as "Killing Floor"), before being dropped from their live set in late 1969. However, the 'squeeze my lemon' sequence continued to be inserted into the "Whole Lotta Love" medley and ad-libbed elsewhere. In their 1970 Royal Albert Hall performance, it was incorporated into "How Many More Times".
Robert Plant performed the song live with Jack White on 21 March 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the Lollapalooza Festival and (so far) at 18 shows during the Spring/Summer leg of his 2018 Carry Fire tour.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Led Zeppelin II – Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)
- Lewis, Dave (2010). "The Lemon Song". Led Zeppelin: The Complete Guide To Their Music. London: Omnibus Press. eBook. ISBN 978-0857121356.
- Segrest, James; Hoffman, Mark (2004). Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. New York City: Pantheon Books. pp. 235, 299. ISBN 0-375-42246-3.
- Wall, Mick (2010). When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. New York City: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-312-59039-0.
- "Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes - Live at the Greek". Discogs. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "Robert Plant and Jack White Covered Led Zeppelin Classic 'The Lemon Song'". www.led-zeppelin.org. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- "Robert Plant 2018". www.setlist.fm. September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.