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Song of the Moment: When The Levee Breaks

Original: 1929 (Kansas Joe & Memphis Minnie)
Version You Know: 1971 (Led Zeppelin)
Album: Led Zeppelin IV
Length: 7:08

Joe & Minnie

Wikipedia: "The lines at the end of the song, 'Going to Chicago; sorry but I can't take you', are quoted in 'Going to Chicago Blues' by Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie Orchestra. In the first half of 1927, the Great Mississippi Flood ravaged the state of Mississippi and surrounding areas. It destroyed many homes and ravaged the agricultural economy of the Mississippi Basin. Many people were forced to flee to the cities of the Midwest in search of work, contributing to the 'Great Migration' of African Americans in the first half of the 20th century.

"Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin had the original McCoy and Minnie recording in his personal collection. He removed and rearranged lines and line parts from the original song and added new lyrical parts, and combined it with a revamped melody."

Led Zeppelin

Songfacts: "Heavily produced in the studio, this was difficult to perform live, which Led Zeppelin did only twice: once in a 'warm up' gig in Denmark before their 1975 US tour, and again on their second night in Chicago."

"Many rap songs have sampled the drums on this. For sampling purposes, this is great because of the clean, uninterrupted drum break at the beginning. The Beastie Boys used it on 'Rymin' And Stealin'' which opened their first album License To Ill. Other songs to use it include 'Lyrical Gangbang' by Dr. Dre and 'Beats And Pieces' by Coldcut.

Lyrics:
If it keeps on raining levee's going to break
If it keeps on raining levee's going to break
When the levee breaks have no place to stay

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan
Got what it takes to make a Mountain Man leave his home

Oh, well; oh, well; oh, well.

Don't it make you feel bad?
When you're trying to find your way home you don't know which way to go?
When you're going down south and there's no work to do
And you're going on to Chicago

Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good
Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to go

All last night sat on the levee and moaned
All last night sat on the levee and moaned
Thinking about my baby and my happy home

Going - going to Chicago
Going to Chicago
Sorry, but I can't take you

Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down
Going down
Going down
Going down

Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down
Going dow-, dow-, dow-, dow-, down, now

-

Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation



Permalink

Posted on June 19, 2008


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