When recalling bands that defined the British Invasion, most music fans easily deffer to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. And, rightly so. These bands all had a significant impact on not just Rock and Roll, but history itself. But there is another band from across the pond that can stand tall in this right as well. Coming in only second to The Beatles in terms of lifetime album sales and having the 4th most sold album of all time¹, Led Zeppelin has left an impact on music like none other.
Released in 1971 the untitled IV album is their most widely received and the one which has solidified the band’s legendary status with hits such as “Stairway to Heaven”, “Rock and Roll”, and tonight’s featured tune “Black Dog”.
The song was not really one of the band’s lyrically strong pieces, with Jimmy Page saying
I put a lot of work into my lyrics. Not all my stuff is meant to be scrutinized, though. Things like “Black Dog” are blatant let’s-do-it-in-the-bath-type things, but they make their point just the same.²
However, the musical stylings in this song are particularly strong. While the band originated out of the bluesy Yardbirds , their influences grew to take a different direction especially on the IV album. Both Page and Plant had grown up in the realm of British folklore and were inspired by mythology, Middle Earth, and the occult.³ This may have had something to do with the “edge of mayhem arrangements”³ that this song highlights and can be found throughout the IV album.
And for all those inquiring minds, the name of the song has no ties to the songs actual meaning. It was simply named after a stray dog that the band encountered often while recording.
¹”The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum.” Led Zeppelin Biography. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Musem, 15 May 2013. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
²Crowe, Cameron. “The Durable Led Zeppelin.” Rolling Stone. N.p., 13 Mar. 1975. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.
³”Led Zeppelin Biography.” Rolling Stone. Ed. Chuck Eddy. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.