Sunday, August 23, 2015

Yardbirds – "Dazed and Confused" (1968)

Secrets are fun to a certain degree
But this one's no fun, 'cause the secret's on me

Once again, 2 or 3 lines has delivered.  I promised you nine consecutive narcissism-less posts, and that's exactly what I gave you.

Today, we complete the journey we started three weeks ago when we featured the Yardbirds' cover of "I'm Not Talking" by coming full circle to the Yardbirds and their cover of "Dazed and Confused" -- via the Misunderstood, Mose Allison, Sonny Boy Williamson II, the Who, Led Zeppelin, and Jake Holmes.

The Yardbirds never recorded Jake Holmes's song, "Dazed and Confused," in the studio.  But there are several recordings of them performing the song live before they disbanded in 1968.  

The Yardbirds left some of Holmes's lyrics as they were, but changed other lines.

For example, in the original "Dazed and Confused," the second lines of both the first and the last verses begin with this question: "Am I being choosed?"

I think that's a brilliant little touch – the singer is so dazed and confused by the mind games being played on him by the (female) object of his affections that correct grammar goes right out the window.

But the Yardbirds' lead singer, Keith Reif, never sang "Am I being choosed?" when they performed the song.  I'm guessing the group thought that line would be misunderstood by their audiences.

The Jimmy Page-era Yardbirds
After the Yardbirds broke up, lead guitarist Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin, which recorded "Dazed and Confused" with entirely new lyrics – except for the words of the song's title.

The arrangement was recognizable as the same basic arrangement as the Yardbirds used.  That's not surprising since Page was largely responsible for the Yardbirds' arrangement.  But I think most people would say that Jake Holmes's "Dazed and Confused" is the same song as Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused."

But Led Zeppelin did not give a songwriting credit to Jake Holmes.  And although Holmes heard Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" shortly after it was released, he didn't do anything about it for for more than a decade.  

And when Holmes did finally write to Page to ask for a shared songwriting credit and some do-re-mi, he never heard back.

Led Zeppelin has been sued several times for copyright infringement.  In 1985, veteran blues musician Willie Dixon sued the band, alleging that "Whole Lotta Love" infringed two of Dixon's songs.  (The case was settled out of court.)  And only last year, the estate of the late Randy California claimed that "Stairway to Heaven" infringed California's composition, "Taurus," which was recorded by the band Spirit in 1967.

Holmes finally sued Page in 2010.  His complaint was eventually dismissed – probably because the two parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement.  

While the terms of any such settlement have never been released, it appears that Holmes won at least a partial victory.  The Led Zeppelin reunion concert album, Celebration Day – which was released several months after the presumed settlement of the Holmes lawsuit – contains this songwriting credit for "Dazed and Confused":  "Jimmy Page; inspired by Jake Holmes."

To read more about the controversy over the authorship of "Dazed and Confused," click here – or click here -- or click here – or better yet, click on all three.

The Yardbirds on "Bouton Rouge"
Click here to watch a wonderful video of the Yardbirds performing "Dazed and Confused" on a French television show called Bouton Rouge ("Red Button").  

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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