The Lemon Song
|"The Lemon Song"|
|Song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin II|
|Released||22 October 1969|
|Recorded||Mirror Sound, 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 at Mystic Studios in Hollywood when the band were on their second concert tour of North America.
Lyrical and musical content
"The Lemon Song" is liberally laced with sexual innuendo, and features some of Led Zeppelin's most blues-inflected playing. It was recorded virtually live in the studio while on tour, and no electronic devices were used to create the echo on Robert Plant's insouciant vocal. It was made solely by Plant's voice and the acoustics in Mystic Studios, which was a 16 × 16 foot room with wooden walls. Another notable aspect of this song is John Paul Jones' complex funk bass guitar performance.
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 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 Robert Plant's official music video for "In the Mood", in one scene he holds up a lemon while singing, as a reference back to "The Lemon Song".
- 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
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)
- Segrest, James, and Mark Hoffman. Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. p. 235.
- Segrest, James, and Mark Hoffman. Moanin' at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. p. 299.
- Mick Wall (2008), When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography Of Led Zeppelin, London: Orion, p. 150
- "Robert Plant and Jack White Covered Led Zeppelin Classic 'The Lemon Song'". www.led-zeppelin.org. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.