Black Dog (song)

'Black Dog' is a 1971 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones, and recorded at Headley Grange, Hampshire, England in January 1971, and mixed at Island Studios, London in February 1971. It appeared as the opening track on Led Zeppelin's fourth album Led Zeppelin IV, released on 8 November 1971. 'Black Dog' was also issued as a promotional single in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines. Like 'Whole Lotta Love', it was released against the band's wishes. It reached number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, number 11 in Canada, and number 9 in Australia. The song is memorable for the heavy distorted guitar riff and intricate drum sound.

Overview

'Black Dog' was named after a stray black dog, a Labrador retriever, that hung around Headley Grange during the song's recording process. The riff was essentially devised by bassist John Paul Jones who wanted a rolling blues song that was more cerebral with complex patterns and changing time signatures (a mix of 4/4 against 5/4), rather than something you can dance to. Guitarist Jimmy Page used his Gibson Les Paul through a direct injection box to record four separate guitar layers, triple tracked to add to the musical power. Drummer John Bonham had difficulty at first with the time signature, but worked out that counting four time, without a turnaround worked. The call-and-response lyrics are primal in nature and allegedly the song contains the highest note singer Robert Plant has ever sung.

During Plant's solo career, snippets of 'Black Dog' would be included in recordings of 'Tall Cool One' and 'Your Ma Said She Cried in Her Sleep Last Night'. The song has been widely covered by numerous artists.

Live performances

'Black Dog' made its live debut on 5 March 1971 at Belfast Hall. It was performed at every concert until the 1973 North American tour. During the 1975 tours, it was used as an encore with 'Whole Lotta Love'. It was performed only once on the 1977 North American tour, at the Oakland Coliseum on 23 July, but returned for the 1979 Copenhagen and Knebworth shows. It was performed on the 1980 Over Europe tour with a rare spoken word introduction by Jimmy Page. Page would again perform the song with David Coverdale on their 1993 tour, and on the 1995, 1996, and 1998 tours with Robert Plant. John Paul Jones performed the song as a instrumental on his 1999 and 2001 solo tours. Plant revived the song for his Strange Sensation tours, and later with Alison Krauss.

Accolades

  • Classic Rock - The Top Fifty Classic Rock Songs of All Time (1995) 18
  • The Guitar - Riff of the Millennium (1999) 7
  • Rolling Stone - The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2003) 294
  • Q - 1010 Songs You Must Own! (2004) *
  • Blender - The Greatest Songs Ever! (2005) *
  • Bruce Pollock - The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005) *
  • Q - The 20 Greatest Guitar Tracks (2007) 1
  • DigitalDreamDoor - The 100 Greatest Recordings From 1971 (2007) 20
  • DigitalDreamDoor - The 100 Greatest Rock Guitar Riffs (2007) 32

(*) designates unordered lists.

Chart positions

  • Japanese Singles Chart (1972) 24
  • Dutch Singles Chart (1972) 20
  • US Billboard Hot 100 Chart (1972) 15
  • Canadian CHUM 30 Chart (1972) 14
  • US Cash Box Top 100 Singles Chart (1972) 9
  • US Record World 100 Top Pops (1972) 10
  • Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart (1972) 11
  • German Singles Chart (1972) 22
  • Australian Go-Set Top 40 Singles Chart (1972) 9
  • New Zealand Top 50 Singles Chart (1972) 10
  • French Singles Chart (1972) 23
  • Swiss Singles Chart (1972) 6

Single (Digital download)

  • UK Singles Chart (2007) 119
  • US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart (2007) 66
  • Canadian Billboard Hot Digital Singles Chart (2007) 59

Note: The official UK Singles Chart incorporated legal downloads as of 17 April 2005.

Formats and track listings

1971 7" single (US/Australia: Atlantic 45-2849, Angola/South Africa: Atlantic ATS 568, Argentina: Atlantic 2091175, Austria/Germany: Atlantic ATL 10103, Brazil: Atco 2091175, Canada: Atlantic AT 2849, Cape Verde: Atlantic ATL N 28-118, Ecuador: Atlantic 45-73502, France: Atlantic 10 103, Greece: Atlantic 2091 175, Italy: Atlantic K 10103, Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1101A, Mexico: Atlantic 2207-024, the Netherlands: Atlantic ATL 2091 175, New Zealand: Atlantic ATL 88, Philippines: Atlantic ATR 0033, Portugal: Atlantic N 28118, Singapore: Stereophonic 10103, Spain: Atlantic HS 775, Sweden: Atlantic ATL 10.103, Turkey: Atlantic 72 500)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Misty Mountain Hop' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.38

1971 7" radio edit (Japan: Warner Pioneer P-1001A)

  • A. 'Black Dog' [stereo] (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Black Dog' [mono] (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56

1971 7" single (Poland: Atlantic X 87)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'When the Levee Breaks' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant, Minnie) 7.08

1971 7" single (Poland: Prasniewski N 677)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Four Sticks' (Page, Plant) 4.44

1971 7" promo (United States: Atlantic 45-2849 PL)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Misty Mountain Hop' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.38

1972 7" promo (Spain CP-126)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Misty Mountain Hop' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.38

1973 7" single (Venezuela: Atlantic 5-011)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Rock and Roll' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 3.40

1976 7" single (Japan: Atlantic P-176A)

  • A. 'Black Dog' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.56
  • B. 'Misty Mountain Hop' (Jones, Page, Plant) 4.38

Credits

Musicians:

  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion

Production:

  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
  • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
  • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

Bibliography

  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).

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