One Song/Three Versions – Black Dog – Led Zeppelin

Wherein I take an established song and show how different artists interpret it, in ways not hearable by us mere mortals …

All I ask for all I pray
Steady rollin’ woman gonna come my way

Led Zeppelin’s song “Black Dog” from their fourth (ZoSo) album was inspired by a dog the band saw while recording. (The riff itself came from John Paul Jones – inspired by Muddy Waters – who wanted to do a “riff that would be like a linear journey.”) In fact, the Wikipedia write-up is so interesting it bears repeating:

The song’s title is a reference to a nameless, black Labrador Retriever that wandered around the Headley Grange studios during recording. The retriever, despite his advanced age, was still sexually adventurous like the song’s protagonist who reiterates his desperate desire for a woman’s love and the happiness it provides.

As Robert Plant explained to a 1972 concert audience: “Let me tell you ’bout this poor old dog because he was a retriever in his early days, and the only thing he could ever find in his late days was his old lady who lived two houses away from where we were recording. And he used to go see the old lady quite regularly, but after he’d “boogied” and everything else he couldn’t get back. And we used to carry him back.” Aww…

Usually my alternate versions don’t involve the original player, much less singer or songwriter. But how could I resist the one-two punch of Plant with bluegrass wunderkind, Alison Krauss? Plant has always loved folkie stuff, especially female singers. And you’ll recall he did “Battle of Evermore” with the late Sandy Denny on ZoSo.  This version sounds less erotic and more, well, almost menacing. That’s producer T Bone Burnett lurking in the background on one of the guitars.

And lastly, as someone on the YouTube channel said about this next version, “Finnish version of an English group’s tribute to American music. I love the age of the internet!” Live! From Union Square Park in New York City. Finland’s own Steve ‘n Seagulls do an acoustic version of “Black Dog.” (Is the drummer using a suitcase for a bass drum?)

 

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