The Lemon Song

'The Lemon Song' 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 Mirror Sound, Los Angeles in May 1969; Mystic Studios, Los Angeles, in August 1969, and mixed at A & R Studios, New York, in August 1969. It appeared as the third track on Led Zeppelin's second album Led Zeppelin II, released on 22 October 1969. 'The Lemon Song' is a pastiche of various blues themes, recorded live in the studio, with members of Led Zeppelin playing improvised overlaid by Plant's ad-hoc lyrical vocals. It is the most overtly libidinous song in the Led Zeppelin catalogue laced with raw metaphors and spicy innuendos.

Overview

This is the longest song on the album at 6 minutes 19 seconds, and is very much in the mood of an extended improvisation the band were familiar with in a live setting. 'The Lemon Song' is laced with risqué blues metaphors, and features some of Led Zeppelin's most structured jamming. The song is a straight-forward E blues scale (add major 7th) (E–G–A–B♭–B–D–D♯). Guitarist Jimmy Page used his 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar with a 1/2 Marshall amplifier stack for the recording. Bass player John Paul Jones lays down one of his most funkiest bass grooves on record.

The lemon metaphor would also become somewhat of a staple in singer Robert Plant's career. Plant was also seen in the music video for the 'In the Mood' single from his 1983 album, The Principle of Moments, holding a lemon with a grin on his face as the camera panned by. There is also a long running Robert Plant fanzine entitled The Lemon Tree. Another classic blues reference thrown into the lyrical mix includes 'killing floor'. A 'killing floor' is slang for a slaughterhouse. On a literal level, many itinerant workers from the American South found employment in slaughterhouses working on the killing floor. This image was incorporated into blues songs as having hit rock bottom, particularly in the context of a difficult relationship with a woman.

Live performances

'The Lemon Song' was performed on the second and third North American tours, and then dropped entirely from the set list at the end of 1969. Parts of the song, such as 'squeeze my lemon' would occasionally be re-used in the 'Whole Lotta Love' medleys throughout Led Zeppelin's stage career. In 1998, Page and Plant again revived the 'squeeze my lemon' section for the 'How Many More Times' medley, and in 1999, Page performed the entire song during his partnership with the Black Crowes.

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
  • Chris Huston - 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: GW17654438
  • ASCAP: 420153935
  • GEMA: 371775-001
  • ISWC: T-070.098.934-9
  • US Copyright Office: EP267878

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