Heartbreaker (song)

'Heartbreaker' is a 1969 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, and recorded at A & R Studios, New York in May 1969, and mixed at A & R Studios, New York, in August 1969. It appeared as the fifth track on Led Zeppelin's second album Led Zeppelin II, released on 22 October 1969. 'Heartbreaker' is reportedly the first song guitarist Jimmy Page recorded using his new 1959 Gibson Les Paul standard guitar with a Marshall amplifier stack. The track opens side two of the album and is notable for the improvised guitar solo and riff. It quickly became an instrumental showcase for Page when performed live, and usually included additional medleys. 'Heartbreaker' was released as a promotional single by Atlantic Records in South Africa, Italy, and the Philippines. In 2004, the song was ranked number 320 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the '500 Greatest Songs of All Time'.

Overview

'Heartbreaker' features one of Page's most recognizable blues-rock guitar riffs. Beginning with a repeated figure, it was recorded in two parts, with the two minute improvised solo in the key of A, added on later at A & R Studios, at a recording session in August 1969. Singer Robert Plant's lyrics use the standard blues motif of a woman who has done wrong, a breaker of hearts who is versed in 'the wicked ways of love'. The song relies on using tension and climax created by pauses, fermatas, and alternating tempos, to emphasize the 'call and response' of the guitar and vocals. The solo's open-string pull-offs purportedly inspired Eddie Van Halen to develop his influential tapping technique after he had seen Led Zeppelin play 'Heartbreaker' live. When performed live the song became a vehicle of improvisation, mixed in with the extended guitar solo.

Live performances

'Heartbreaker' made it's live debut at the Lyceum in October 1969, and became one of the most played songs in the Led Zeppelin set list. It originally opened with the 'Immigrant Song', thereafter it became part of the encore after 1972, or part of the 'Whole Lotta Love' medley as in 1973. It appeared on the film The Song Remains the Same but was omitted from the soundtrack album in 1976, and then added back in the remastered edition. 'Heartbreaker' was performed at the Atlantic 40th Anniversary reunion in 1988, and during the Page and Plant tours of 1994 to 1998. It was again played by Page during his time with the Black Crowes in 1999 and 2000.

Accolades

  • Gibson - Top 50 Guitar Solos (2010) 27

Chart positions

  • Italian Singles Chart (1970) 39

Heartbreaker Italian front cover single

Formats and track listings

1969 7" single edition (Italy: Atlantic ATL NP 03162)

  • A. 'Bring It On Home' (Page, Plant) 4.21
  • B. 'Heartbreaker' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 4.14

1969 7" single edition (Philippines: Atlantic 45-3735)

  • A. 'Heartbreaker' (Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant) 4.14
  • B. 'Ramble On' (Page, Plant) 4.23

1969 7" single edition (South Africa: Atlantic ATS)

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
  • Eddie Kramer - 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).

Registrations

  • APRA: GW03100396
  • ASCAP: 380135817
  • GEMA: 371743-001
  • ISWC: T-070.075.916-5
  • US Copyright Office: EU0000144294

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