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Led Zeppelin — When The Levee Breaks
Album: Led Zeppelin IV
Avg rating:
8.6

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2691









Released: 1971
Length: 7:06
Plays (last 30 days): 0
If it keeps on rainin', levee's going to break
If it keeps on rainin', levee's going to break
And when the levee breaks, have no place to stay

Mean old levee, taught me to weep and moan, moan
Mean old levee, taught me to weep and moan
It's got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well-a, ooh-ooh

A-don't it make ya feel bad
When you're tryin' to find your way home?
You don't know which way to go
If you're goin' down south and there's no work to do
Then ya go north to Chicago, aaah, aaah, aaah, hey

Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do ya no good, no
Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do ya no good
A-when the levee breaks, mama, you got to move, a-woo-hoo

All last night, I sat on the levee and moaned
All last night, sat on the levee and moaned
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home, oh-hoh

Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah, ha
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah, ha
Oh, oh
Goin', I'm goin' to Chicago, goin' to Chicago
Sorry, but I can't take you
Goin' down, goin' down, now, goin' down, a-goin' down, now
Goin' down, goin' down, goin' down, goin' down, yeahh

Goin' down, goin' down, now, goin' down, goin' down, now
Goin' down, goin' down, now, goin' down
Goin' down, down, down, down, down
Ooh-woo-ooh, ooh-woo-ooh
Comments (401)add comment
I know it's probably just my generation, but whenever I hear the first few notes, I'm excited for some Beastie Boys Rhymin and Stealin.  (Yes I like this song too).  Just me? 
John Paul Jones nails the bass line to the floor.  Love it.
I saw them on September 3rd, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was just before this album was released. When they did "Black Dog" which nobody had heard before, the crowd went entirely crazy!
Smoldering rock classic....No doubt  a "10" Godlike!
This is an awesome,solid 10 🥳
9 to 10 today (finally!) - I find hearing this one makes me wish I was alive back in the day, getting to buy this album on day 1, wearing it out within a week or so and buying it again....Long Live RP!!
I love Led Zeppelin now even more than I did in my "reckless youth" when they were a current band.  And who knew then that they were actually composing a climate change song 
 Jimi_the_Saint wrote:
Cruithne3753 wrote:
I wonder if anyone has ever thought of sampling it? :wink:
Beastie Boys used it - got sued for it.
 

They didn't though. Somewhere I saw Page was quoted on why they didn't sue saying something to the effect of 'I guess we took it as a compliment.'

Maybe you're thinking of ACDC suing them. Or someone else. I imagine they got sued quite a bit as they came up during the wild west days of hip hop sampling without even trying to clear anything.
 johnalexford wrote:
Anyone heard of a young Michigan band called "Greta Van Fleet"? I heard them for the first time and I swear I was hearing LZ play, with Plant on vocals. HIGHLY impressive!
 

I had, with the writer blaming them of stealing the Zep's sound and songwriting.

I don't know, It's not like the Zep weren't borrowing themselves...

It's all sounds at the end of the day
What would Hip Hop do without those bangin' drums in the intro?
 Tippster wrote:
The freight train through molasses drum beat, JPJ's redonkulous bottom melodic line.  Page stepping back and just crushing riffs... and that harp... omg... LZ does not get better than this.

One that deserves an 11.
 
Amen!
Boom! Splat! Whap!  Turn it up to 11 folks!
  
Long Live  Radio Paradise
My rating  stays  at 8     
The freight train through molasses drum beat, JPJ's redonkulous bottom melodic line.  Page stepping back and just crushing riffs... and that harp... omg... LZ does not get better than this.

One that deserves an 11.
 x 1000
If you didn't get to hear this played over the PA system in your school basketball court/auditorium turned up to 11 during a festival dance, I pity you.
clear 10, no doubt about it, rock at it's best
 hayduke2 wrote:
47 year old album and it still rocks!  
{#Notworthy}
 

 hayduke2 wrote:

{#Notworthy}
 

The most awesome drummer of all time!
It seems that each one had a song that show cased their individual talent. To me this song was Bonham's.  
Second 10 in a row. Today is a good day.
Thank you RP for keeping Zep an on-going thread in your playlist (as well as my beloved Robert's newer stuff). Best rock band ever.
Go Bonzo!
Incredible song
Considering 9..  not yet

Staying at 8
 agkagk wrote:
10/10 on the ratings scale. Godlike music.
10/10 on the volume control. God help my eardrums!

still true ^^


 

 arserocket wrote:
Just trying to imagine the Allman Brothers knockin this out in a weird heady blurring of southern rock - what a time to live through
 
Or how about Zep doing a thunderous version of "One Way Out"?
Just trying to imagine the Allman Brothers knockin this out in a weird heady blurring of southern rock - what a time to live through
 pvg44 wrote:
I'm a mild Led Zeppelin fan, but this song is outstanding. 

 

Agreed on both accounts...really enjoyed this track.  A little before my time but great stuff!
I was 13 when this was released. . . but I did not experience it until a year or so later.

It still has to be one of my desert island disks. 

Outstanding.   
To me 8 - Most Excellent  TY both
 rpdevotee wrote:
I think this may arguably be the best rock and roll song of all time...anyone else feel the same way?  An 8.6 RP listener rating says a lot.

 
This is what you get when all the elements of an artists' creation join to render more than just a song. It's pure magic. Genius earns a 10 every time!
Anyone heard of a young Michigan band called "Greta Van Fleet"? I heard them for the first time and I swear I was hearing LZ play, with Plant on vocals. HIGHLY impressive!
I think this may arguably be the best rock and roll song of all time...anyone else feel the same way?  An 8.6 RP listener rating says a lot.
I'm a mild Led Zeppelin fan, but this song is outstanding. 
 Spiderwoman wrote:
I'm incapable of listening to this at any other volume than CRANKED UP. Problem? Nope.

 
Agreed. This one really benefits from the upcrank
11 !
I'm incapable of listening to this at any other volume than CRANKED UP. Problem? Nope.
The 1 rating must be from Kansas Joe McCoy. I get that.
 clickfaster wrote:
John Bonham

 
{#Notworthy}
U huh.
Take no prisoners!
A lot of Zeppelin I just find overbearing and I'm pretty selective with what actually resonates with me.
This one is pretty beyond reproach.
'K, please forgive me, but at the first bar, I was hoping this would actually be "Rhymin' 'n' Stealin'" by the Beastie Boys.
Led Zep is awesome, but we could use a little variety...
This is THE ultimate crank up your crappy car stereo song (well for me anyway). {#Bananajam}{#Dancingbanana_2}{#Guitarist}
"Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do ya no good, no
Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do ya no good"

Hmmm.....you'd think he was singin' about the current state of our unhinged politics in this country (USA) wouldn't'cha?  Heh!

So it goes. 

Highlow
American Net'Zen
 kcar wrote:
 

The artists who didn't get any recognition or royalties from Led Zep cared. This LZ song was adapted from a blues song written in 1929; Columbia Records recorded and distributed it.  This was not a matter of a British group making a new song from uncopyrighted "folk tunes." LZ credited one of the original songwriters but I don't know if her estate got any money from the band. 

 
The issue with Zeppelin was NOT that they played old blues tunes or any sort of cultural appropriation issue. The issue with Jimmy Page is  the wholesale thievery of other artists arrangements without credit.
Page, and his lawyer(s) took the "fuck em, let em sue us" approach to doing business and the chickens have come home to roost. 
 Zedediah wrote:

All blues are basically the same 3 or 4 songs. Blues artists do there own thing with them.

Was anyone really thinking these Brits were intimately familiar with Mississippi flooding and dislocation? Of course it's 'cultural appropriation'. If you're going to whine about it, you never get to eat a slice of American pizza again or risk being verbally tortured as a hypocrite.



 
"All blues are basically the same 3 or 4 songs."

Only if you've been living in a closet in a Walmart all your life...

 Meltz wrote:

Someone said stealing us the best form of flattery. Brahms stole from Beethoven, Copeland and Bartok borrowed folk tunes left and right. John Lennon from who knows.....In the end who gives a flying fortress? It's about the pleasure factor. 

  

The artists who didn't get any recognition or royalties from Led Zep cared. This LZ song was adapted from a blues song written in 1929; Columbia Records recorded and distributed it.  This was not a matter of a British group making a new song from uncopyrighted "folk tunes." LZ credited one of the original songwriters but I don't know if her estate got any money from the band. 
It gave me shivers before it even started
Great choice for a Sunday night! I'm going to turn the volume up to 11!
I remember when I had this on 8 track.  Lived in this shitty old frame house, holes in the drywall and crappy kitchen.  I had this sears a roebuck 8 track player mom got me for christmas and used to just crank the living shit out of this.  Maybe 14 years old.  The best of days.
BRING IT ON!!!!
 Skydog wrote:

thanx 4 the reply, always nice to hear from one's peers, I must apologize for sounding as if my statements are facts, they are just my opinion and what the Zep sounds like to me.
As for the Fox News/Orwellian comment you made about me,... I don't know what to say but I find it to be odd.

What I meant by  "had no future" after Led Zeppelin III"  was that everything after 3 was basically boring.
Again, boring to me.
I don't know what Zep music is, only Zep knows, when I hear it I think it's boring or funny, like the first 2 lines of lyrics in "Going 2 Cali", hilarious stuff.

But if you mean sales wise then yes, the Zep had a great future, lots of number ones and sold out shows.
Number ones don't mean anything to me, McDonald's and Bud Light are number one in their fields but are boring to me.
Have a nice day and enjoy your lunch.

 
Well everyone has their opinion and likes/dislikes. That's OK, life would be very dull otherwise. But to say, "the drums sound like a few garbage can lids were flatten down and are used as a high hat."...is just about the opposite of what I (and a billion others) hear on this track.

Maybe you just need a better audio system? {#Whisper}
 Skydog wrote:
I gave this song a "1", the drums sound like a few garbage can lids were flatten down and are used as a high hat.
 
I gave it a "9". Those surely are some damn good-sounding garbage cans.
Best ever from anyone anywhere.
 LawrenceSheppard wrote:
Would have been a lot better at half the duration. After a while it loses its luster ...

 
dead wrong. this gains all its power as it goes on. kinda like a mantra or chant. 
This one actually has some originality to the arrangement. It borrows heavily from Memphis Minnie and then has a lil Zep thing goin on after the break. 
 LowPhreak wrote:

Sure, they "had no future" after Led Zeppelin III...{#Stupid}  except for the fact that they went on to make at least three of the greatest rock albums of all time after III, one after the other - IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti. Then later, Presence and In Through the Out Door weren't too shabby either.

I've seen you post some pretty uninformed caca on these boards, Skydog, but calling the drum sound on Levee... bad must be a desperate attempt to troll. The facts are that 99% of the music press, fan base, and their musician peers thought Levee's... drum sound was innovative and ground-breaking at the time PG was released (Feb. 1975), and was universally praised, because of the way Page intentionally miced the drums in the open stairway at Headley Grange where they were recorded and gave them a very open, resonant sound that almost no one else was doing at the time. It was the opposite of the typical dead, cardboard box drum sound that was prevalent in the 70s.

Many drummers, engineers/producers, and bands have emulated that sound ever since. I know this because I'm a drummer and have seen it first-hand for many years.

I'm anxiously awaiting your next post, wherein no doubt you'll be peddling the Fox News/Orwellian doublespeak that water is not wet, the sun does not rise in the east, and King Kong ain't a monkey.




 
thanx 4 the reply, always nice to hear from one's peers, I must apologize for sounding as if my statements are facts, they are just my opinion and what the Zep sounds like to me.
As for the Fox News/Orwellian comment you made about me,... I don't know what to say but I find it to be odd.

What I meant by  "had no future" after Led Zeppelin III"  was that everything after 3 was basically boring.
Again, boring to me.
I don't know what Zep music is, only Zep knows, when I hear it I think it's boring or funny, like the first 2 lines of lyrics in "Going 2 Cali", hilarious stuff.

But if you mean sales wise then yes, the Zep had a great future, lots of number ones and sold out shows.
Number ones don't mean anything to me, McDonald's and Bud Light are number one in their fields but are boring to me.
Have a nice day and enjoy your lunch.


Bonzo !!!
 Skydog wrote:
I always come to the comments section when Led Zepplin is played, the comments about them seem to be the most heated discussions here.
My opinion on Zep? In spite of the popular theory that you love them or hate them but I just don't care. I thought their album LZ3 was good and I thought these guys just might have a future after all but I was wrong. 

I gave this song a "1", the drums sound like a few garbage can lids were flatten down and are used as a high hat.

 
Sure, they "had no future" after Led Zeppelin III...{#Stupid}  except for the fact that they went on to make at least three of the greatest rock albums of all time after III, one after the other - IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti. Then later, Presence and In Through the Out Door weren't too shabby either.

I've seen you post some pretty uninformed caca on these boards, Skydog, but calling the drum sound on Levee... bad must be a desperate attempt to troll. The facts are that 99% of the music press, fan base, and their musician peers thought Levee's... drum sound was innovative and ground-breaking at the time PG was released (Feb. 1975), and was universally praised, because of the way Page intentionally miced the drums in the open stairway at Headley Grange where they were recorded and gave them a very open, resonant sound that almost no one else was doing at the time. It was the opposite of the typical dead, cardboard box drum sound that was prevalent in the 70s.

Many drummers, engineers/producers, and bands have emulated that sound ever since. I know this because I'm a drummer and have seen it first-hand for many years.

I'm anxiously awaiting your next post, wherein no doubt you'll be peddling the Fox News/Orwellian doublespeak that water is not wet, the sun does not rise in the east, and King Kong ain't a monkey.



Godlike. Perfect.
RP  thank you for getting the lead out.  Very Timely and appropriate.  

Its been very rainy where I live in the "mid south" and my thoughts are for the drought ridden  now flooded people in Texas. 
The hammer of the gods.
 clickfaster wrote:
Must listen with headphones!  At the end, the drums and guitar trade positions from left to right.  At one point, listen to the white noise when they cross.  :-D

 
Ooooo gonna have to have a listen on headphones
 countyman wrote:
The band broke up in.................1980.  So........no, they won't be getting popular.
 
Led Zep broke up?!!! Dang!
Thanks for ruining my day.  : (
 pomalley wrote:

Not too bad.  I could see this band getting popular. 

 
The band broke up in.................1980.  So........no, they won't be getting popular.
GODS OF ROCK  {#Notworthy}

Most famous cover band in the history of rock.


 LowPhreak wrote:


My son, when he was 8, once changed the channel on the radio in the car when a Led Zeppelin song was playing.  I promptly changed it back and cautioned him to NEVER do that again.  Then, I made him ride in the back seat on the way home so the lesson would sink in.
 


Would have been a lot better at half the duration. After a while it loses its luster ...
I always come to the comments section when Led Zepplin is played, the comments about them seem to be the most heated discussions here.
My opinion on Zep? In spite of the popular theory that you love them or hate them but I just don't care. I thought their album LZ3 was good and I thought these guys just might have a future after all but I was wrong. 

I gave this song a "1", the drums sound like a few garbage can lids were flatten down and are used as a high hat.
 Zedediah wrote:

All blues are basically the same 3 or 4 songs. Blues artists do there own thing with them.

Was anyone really thinking these Brits were intimately familiar with Mississippi flooding and dislocation? Of course it's 'cultural appropriation'. If you're going to whine about it, you never get to eat a slice of American pizza again or risk being verbally tortured as a hypocrite.



 
Someone said stealing us the best form of flattery. Brahms stole from Beethoven, Copeland and Bartok borrowed folk tunes left and right. John Lennon from who knows.....In the end who gives a flying fortress? It's about the pleasure factor. 
 jnhashmi wrote:
If you really want to be embarrassed for not just yourself but Led Zeppelin itself, read "Hammer Of The Gods" which reveals that about 80% of Led Zeppelin I was basically stolen from various sources with no credit given.

Lindo525 wrote:

Well, If you are supposed to be embarrassed - Then I will stand along side you, being just as embarrassed - cuz I didn't know that either. Then again, Jimi and the boys were a little notorious for letting such things happen...

 

 
All blues are basically the same 3 or 4 songs. Blues artists do there own thing with them.

Was anyone really thinking these Brits were intimately familiar with Mississippi flooding and dislocation? Of course it's 'cultural appropriation'. If you're going to whine about it, you never get to eat a slice of American pizza again or risk being verbally tortured as a hypocrite.


nothing stolen here, this sound is Gloriously Unique and untouchable in its Awesomeness man!!!

If you really want to be embarrassed for not just yourself but Led Zeppelin itself, read "Hammer Of The Gods" which reveals that about 80% of Led Zeppelin I was basically stolen from various sources with no credit given.

Lindo525 wrote:

Well, If you are supposed to be embarrassed - Then I will stand along side you, being just as embarrassed - cuz I didn't know that either. Then again, Jimi and the boys were a little notorious for letting such things happen...

 


 treatment_bound wrote:
Just read up on this song.  Should I be embarrassed after almost 44 YEARS that I didn't know this wasn't a Zep original?

 
Well, If you are supposed to be embarrassed - Then I will stand along side you, being just as embarrassed - cuz I didn't know that either. Then again, Jimmy and the boys were a little notorious for letting such things happen...
This song will always be introduced by Cynthia Fox on KMET as I drive NW on the 405 to the Hollywood freeway and home.
Just read up on this song.  Should I be embarrassed after almost 44 YEARS that I didn't know this wasn't a Zep original?
 Rick_V wrote:
A truly amazing, steamroller of a song.
10+
 
A steamroller on steroids.  ; )
 Rick_V wrote:
A truly amazing, steamroller of a song.

10+ 

  Agreed.


Amazing!!
This album changed my life. 
10/10 on the ratings scale. Godlike music.
10/10 on the volume control. God help my eardrums!


A truly amazing, steamroller of a song.

10+ 
I remember this as the theme song for the upper-midwest flood of '93:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1993

Back when we had actual "shock-jocks"!


I heard this by a no-name band in the New Orleans Blues Fest a few years ago and thought it was the bees knees, until I listened to this version by a buncha Brits aaaaagain. Like this betta.
Oh yeah.
 Spiderwoman wrote:
GENIUS

But I can't decide which is my favorite: When The Levee Breaks or Ten Years Gone ?

 
Couldn't agree more!
 whomhow wrote:
Definitely godlike.

 
Absolutely
This is my favorite song if aanything  fuming awful happened thank you Xx xx xx 
Definitely godlike.
Must listen with headphones!  At the end, the drums and guitar trade positions from left to right.  At one point, listen to the white noise when they cross.  :-D
10+++++++++++++++++++!! 
F'ing amazing!
 Tippster wrote:
Plants Harmonica work is so underrated.  I cant decide which I enjoy more between it and Bonzo's amazing drumming.

 
Yeah right! All around totally awesome piece of kick-ass music man
 aelfheld wrote:
40 years on and it still raises goosebumps.

 
THAT is a very sound fact friend
 aspicer wrote:
...for whatever reason I'm in the midst of a Zeppelin immersion period these days - been long enough I can appreciate it again now - it's almost fresh even - simply BRILLIANT!  This is one of the all time best for sure.

 
Good for you.  Always a staple on my play list.  I love seeing kids rocking Zeppelin "T" shirts.
10+1{#Cool}
 pomalley wrote:

Not too bad.  I could see this band getting popular. 

 
They just might make it
 On_The_Beach wrote:
U2 does a nice version of this song, only I think they call it "Bullet The Blue Sky".

 
I like U2, but it simply does not compare
 moodfood wrote:
always loved Bonham's driving drum beat.. {#Drummer}  nobody rocks like this anymore!

 
Hammer of the Gods!!!!!!
always loved Bonham's driving drum beat.. {#Drummer}  nobody rocks like this anymore!
 blueice7 wrote:
My absolute fav Zep song! {#Dancingbanana}

 
Yeah...this or Kashmir...
 On_The_Beach wrote:
U2 does a nice version of this song, only I think they call it "Bullet The Blue Sky".

 
{#Doh}
U2 does a nice version of this song, only I think they call it "Bullet The Blue Sky".
 unclehud wrote:
Didn't like this back in the day, but now really appreciate the Gonzo drumming and jangly, penetrating guitar tones.  These guys were pretty good, eh?

 
Not too bad.  I could see this band getting popular. 
Didn't like this back in the day, but now really appreciate the Gonzo drumming and jangly, penetrating guitar tones.  These guys were pretty good, eh?
 Propayne wrote:
Good lord, the way Bonzo plays just behind the beat.

Love it. 

 
Indeed...but only the snare.

Truly incredible.

Miss you, miss you.


 
Incredible. Simply incredible.

Page's best slide work. Plant's best harp work. The greatest drum sound of all time. What more could anyone wish for?

...someone to stop fuqqing with the pan pots towards the end of the track. Screws the mix up terribly.

Still, it remains the best single piece of evidence that man ever left Planet Earth - the rest is hearsay. 
My favorite Zeppelin tune, period.  Love Robert's work on the harp in this, and Bonzo is just going full Animal.
"When the Levee Breaks" was originally recorded by the blues musical duo Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie. In the first half of 1927, the Great Mississippi Flood ravaged the state of Mississippi and surrounding areas. It destroyed many homes and devastated the agricultural economy of the Mississippi Basin.
oh my oh my!!!! {#Drummer}
All hail Bonzo!
I pushed the volume all the way up for this one.  After it was over I went to turn the volume down and the slider was missing. {#Eek}

I guess I turned it up and broke the knob off, as radio stations used to suggest?  {#Stupid}
In my growing up years the Big 4 gods of rock and roll were of course The Beatles, The Stones, The Who & Zeppelin.

My being an American and them English meant nothing .

I've loved hundreds of bands and solo artists since then and a number have moved past Zep on my all time last.

But.....being immersed in this as so many of my generation, this song and other evoke so much in me.

Love hearing it when I'm not expecting it.

Awesome RP
GENIUS

But I can't decide which is my favorite: When The Levee Breaks or Ten Years Gone ?

 aspicer wrote:
...for whatever reason I'm in the midst of a Zeppelin immersion period these days - been long enough I can appreciate it again now - it's almost fresh even - simply BRILLIANT!  This is one of the all time best for sure.
 

Yes I fully agree aspicer ... those were the days of passion in presentation...