Thursday, December 2, 1971

Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” released as a single

Black Dog

Led Zeppelin

Writer(s): John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant (see lyrics here)

Released: December 2, 1971

First Charted: December 18, 1971

Peak: 15 US, 9 CB, 10 HR, 1 CL, 11 CN, 9 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 105.54 video, 226.63 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 2007, Q magazine rated “Black Dog,” the opening track of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, the greatest guitar track of all time. WK Music sociologist Deena Weinstein says the song is “one of the most instantly recognizable Zeppelin tracks.” WK Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash said “It was the biggest, baddest, sexiest riff out there.” BL

Bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones wrote the main riff. He was inspired by Muddy Waters’ 1968 album Electric Mud. He said, “I wanted to try electric blues with a rolling bass part.” BL Guitarist Jimmy Page then “turned it into a chain-saw ballet on his Les Paul over Bonzo’s stealth groove, with snarling multitracked rhythm guitar tearing up the midsection.” RS Of the intro, Page said, “That’s the guitar army waking up: Rise and shine.” BL

The song is built around a call and response between singer Robert Plant and the rest of the band. WK Page suggested the start-and-stop a cappella verse, inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 song “Oh Well.” BL Lyrically, it was “essentially an essay on relationships that could’ve been written by a caveman – the author bemoans a long-legged girl who’s good at sex but otherwise unreliable.” BL

Fans familiar with Page’s interest in the occult figured “black dog” had some Satanic meaning. BL Instead, it was named after a black Labrador retriever wandering the grounds of Headley Grange, the Hampshire, England mansion where the band recorded most of the Led Zeppelin IV album. SF


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First posted 11/5/2021; last updated 8/4/2022.

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