Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Song Still Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. "Since I've Been Loving You"

Led Zeppelin, Since I've Been Loving You

Moby Grape, Never

Here it is, the much anticipated third installment of The Song STILL Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. In our first installment, exactly a year ago, we looked at how Jimmy Page put Jake Holmes' song, Dazed and Confused, in Page's own jacket pocket and strolled on to the bank. (Take a look at that post for an over-arching introduction to the series)In our second installment, posted in February of 2010, we looked at how the lads not only took a Muddy Waters tune, but how they emulated the vocals and production style of their countrymen, The Small Faces, to create Zep's mega hit, Whole Lotta Love. Today we look at one of my personal favorite Led Zep tunes, Since I've Been Loving You.

Since I've Been Loving You appeared on Led Zeppelin's third album, the aptly titled, Led Zeppelin III. The song was recorded June of 1970 in London, England. Musically, Since I've Been Loving You owes a bit to The Yardbirds' New York City Blues, which Jimmy Page learned from Yardbirds' lead guitarist, Jeff Beck. In fact, the opening riff is exactly the same. Further guitar riff connections can be drawn from B.B. King's version of Five Long Years and Albert King's Blues Power. Now, that said, I think there needs to be an asterisk here. I don't think that pulling a guitar riff in an opening of a song, or in a lead, qualifies as flat-out plagiarism. I see it more as a tip of the hat, a reference or, at most, "nicking a riff". Unlike in Dazed and Confused, where Page just flat out stole the entire song structure, Since I've Been Loving You incorporates a standard song structure and uses riffs from King, King and Beck to get his song going. "So", you ask, "why the hell are we exploring this song's etymology then?" Good question. Because it is interesting to do so, is my answer.

The lyrics of Since I've Been Lovin' You are taken almost word for word from an excellent, and fairly rare, Moby Grape song called Never. The San Francisco quintet released Never on a 1968 EP LP for Columbia records called Grape Jam. It's a blues number, much as is Since I've Been Loving You, but with a bit more of a jazz tone than Page's more aggressive blues. In the Moby Grape number, songwriter, Bob Mosley sings:
Working from 11 to 7 every night/ought to make life a drag, yeah, and I know that ain't right. Thinking about those bad times, I wish you really knew how happy I would be if I were living with you.

Just months later, Robert Plant would later sing in the Page/Plant/Jones composition:
Working from 7 to 11 every night/it really makes life a drag, I don't think that is right. I've really, really been the best of fools, I did what I could. Cause I love you baby, how I love you darling, how I love you baby/But since I've been loving you, I'm about to lose my worried mind.
It would seem that Robert Plant had a much shorter work night than did his American contemporaries. In Zep's version, Plant only has to work 4 hours compared to Moby Grape's more typical 8 hour work day (or in this case, work night). Doesn't seem such a drag, Mr. Plant. There's more as far as nicked lines go, but you can listen for yourself. And more than just the lyrics, it's the melody of the lines as well.

So what? I'm not trying to throw Led Zep under the bus here as I did with Dazed and Confused and Whole Lotta Love. In fact, I have read Robert Plant talk about how his lines were an homage to a group he greatly admired. I think that is fair enough and I prefer to file this under the, "hey, isn't that interesting" category.

I hope you also think it is interesting and I hope that you will comment on this post or all of the Zep etymology posts. You can leave comments below.

As a bonus, here is Albert King performing Blues Power.


  1. I get that the lyrics are the same for that frist sound sample. Or at best are similar. But I don't get the music. And the video at the end is just generic blues that sounds like all the rest of that stuff. I don't think you can make too strong of a connection with Page.

  2. SIBLY is the same song, just done as a blues song. It's plagiarism, especially when compared to the fact that John Lennon had to pay for taking one line from a Chuck Berry song. (Come Together)

  3. Grape Jam was an LP not an EP. The second Moby Grape LP Wow was released as a double album together with Grape Jam. This was unusual in that both albums had titles and were physically separate. the idea was that the Grape Jam LP was given away free with Wow.

    Robert Plant was a big fan of west coast music and LZ covered many songs in concert such as Fresh Garbage by Spirit. I understand the first Moby Grape album was much liked

    For what it's worth I can see Whole Lotta Love more in the Small Faces version than the Muddy Water

  4. Post updated to correct the Moby Grape LP/Ep issue. Thanks.

  5. You don't have to throw them under the bus. Just listen to the clips above and it happens automatically. Homage? Great songs though, both of them.