Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Led Zeppelin – "Dazed and Confused" (1969)

Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you

The Yardbirds went through three of the greatest guitarists in rock music history – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page – in their five-year history.

When Clapton decided to leave the Yardbirds in 1965, Page was asked if he wanted to replace him.  Page declined the offer but recommended his friend Beck, and Beck was hired.

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck
In May 1966, Beck went into the studio to do some solo recording.  He called on Page to help him work up some songs to record.  

Page came up with the idea of basing an instrumental on Maurice Ravel's famous 1928 composition, Boléro (which became enormously popular when it was featured in the Bo Derek movie, 10).

Beck then recruited disaffected Who members Keith Moon and John Entwistle to play drums and bass.  Moon showed up for the session, but Entwistle did not, and John Paul Jones – who later joined Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin – played bass instead.

Keith Moon
The recording of "Beck's Bolero" went so well that Beck, Page, Moon, and Jones talked about forming a group and doing more recording.  According to Page, Moon quipped "Yeah, that'll go down like a lead Zeppelin," which gave Page the idea for the name of the group he did form after the eventual breakup of the Yardbirds.  (John Entwistle has also claimed credit for the quip.) 

Page got the songwriting credit for "Beck's Bolero," although Beck later said that he should have shared that credit.  Page also claimed that he was the record's actual producer, but he did not get the producing credit.

Click here to read more about "Beck's Bolero."

After "Beck's Bolero" was recorded, Page was invited to join the Yardbirds.  During the few months when both Beck and Page were in the group, Beck played lead guitar and Page shifted to bass.

The only comparable situation that comes to mind is seven-time All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez shifting to third base when he joined the Yankees, leaving shortstop to Derek Jeter.

A-Rod and the Captain
The popularity of the Yardbirds was declining by the fall of 1966, when Beck was fired from the band and Page took over as lead guitarist.  

The band finally broke up in July 1968.  Drummer Jim McCarty and singer Keith Reif authorized Page and bassist Chris Dreja to put together a new group – to be called the New Yardbirds – to fulfill a contractual commitment to play a series of shows in Scandinavia that fall.

Page wanted Terry Reid to be the new group's lead singer.  Reid said no, suggesting that Page use Robert Plant instead.  Plant then recommended his former Band of Joy bandmate, John Bonham, to be the drummer.  When Dreja decided to drop out of the new group, Page recruited John Paul Jones -- the bassist on "Beck's Bolero."

The New Yardbirds played the Scandinavian dates, then went into the studio and recorded an album in just nine days.  Dreja threatened legal action if the group continued to call itself the New Yardbirds, so they became Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin
Atlantic Records signed them to a contract without ever having seen them perform.  The first Led Zeppelin album was released in January 1969, and the rest . . . is history.

That album included a song called "Dazed and Confused," which also was the title of a Jake Holmes song that the Yardbirds had covered a number of times in concert.  The title was not the only thing the two songs had in common.

There's a point to all this exposition.  Actually, there's more than one point.

For one thing, the previous 2 or 3 lines featured a Who song, and I needed to build a bridge between that song and Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused."

I'm also building a much longer bridge between the first post in this series – which featured the Yardbirds' cover of "I'm Not Talking" – and the last one, which will feature (spoiler alert!) the Yardbirds' cover of "Dazed and Confused."  

Finally, there's the issue of the songwriting credit for Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused," which we will turn to in the next 2 or 3 lines.

2 or 3 lines is truly a seamless web.  Nothing on 2 or 3 lines is there without reason.  (Mind blown!)

Here's "Dazed and Confused," which is arguably the best track on what is arguably the best rock album ever recorded.  (I can't prove that statement is true, but you can't prove it's not.)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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