Poor Tom

'Poor Tom' is a 1982 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, and recorded at Olympic Studios, London, England on 6 May 1970, and mixed at Sol Studio, Cookham, Berkshire, in January 1982. It appeared as the second track on Led Zeppelin's 1982 album Coda, released on 19 November 1982. 'Poor Tom' is a blues song performed as a jug-band workout, and initially intended for release on the 1970 album Led Zeppelin III.


'Poor Tom' was composed during the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage stay in Snowdonia, Wales, by guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, in 1970. The song was recorded by Page on a semi-acoustic guitar, with accompaniment from Plant on harmonica. Drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones provide a steady but complex rhythmic shuffle. The song was performed in an open-C6 chord (C-A-C-G-C-E) tuning. The same tuning also used by Page on the tracks 'Bron-Yr-Aur' (1975) and 'Friends' (1970). Lyrically, the song is about a hard working railway labourer called Tom, who experiences clairvoyance, and realises his wife Annie Mae has been cheating on him and kills her. He then realises too late his mistake facing justice with a grandson to take care of. The familiar theme is found in a number of crime passionnel 'prodigal son' blues songs.

Live performances

'Poor Tom' was never performed live by Led Zeppelin.

Chart positions

Song (Airplay)

  • US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart (1982) 18



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


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


  • 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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