These past few months I’ve been listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” so many times – I don’t really know why, how and when it became one of those songs you call “yours” and that you just have to play every day! I’ve known this song since I was in middle school but I never really paid much attention to it. I adore LZ but this song was definitely not one of my all-time favorites – maybe I was too young to appreciate it and get it. Years later, things changed and now I think it is one of my most favorite LZ songs. Not to mention that there’s a personal reason behind it, which I’m not going to reveal, of course. Anyhow, I decided to dedicate this publication to “Whole Lotta Love” and try to give some more insight about it, as well as to simply remind everyone of this classic masterpiece by the greatest of them all – Led Zeppelin.
I’m going to start with the basics. This song was released back in 1969 and it is the lead single from LZ’s second album. It quickly became a major hit and topped the charts in the USA, Germany and many other European countries. Also, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 75 on their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was indeed a huge phenomenon and we can understand why – I mean just listen to this inhumane slide guitar…
Moreover, the song was produced by non-other than Mr. Jimmy Page (of course). How come these people just come up with riffs like this one – saying that he is a genius does not even begin to cover it… I was able to find an interview with him from The Wall Street Journal, talking about the song and the memorable riff:
“I came up with the guitar riff for “Whole Lotta Love” in the summer of ’68, on my houseboat along the Thames in Pangbourne, England. I suppose my early love for big intros by rockabilly guitarists was an inspiration, but as soon as I developed the riff, I knew it was strong enough to drive the entire song, not just open it. When I played the riff for the band in my living room several weeks later during rehearsals for our first album, the excitement was immediate and collective. We felt the riff was addictive, like a forbidden thing.”
I’m not sure I can find the right words to properly describe the guitar riffs and the brilliance of this song because when it comes to legends like Jimmy Page it is indeed very difficult. He was the brain behind the production and the recording of the song which clearly shows his abilities to construct brick by brick a true work of art. The famous riff itself is very monstrous and it builds up some sort of energy and excitement inside of you which just wants to go out. Also, with this song it’s all about the intro…I’ve said it before – a rock song needs to have a mighty and compelling intro. “Whole Lotta Love” is the perfect example of how a strong and mind-blowing rock song intro should sound like.
In addition to Jimmy Page’s excellence, the vocal delivery of Robert Plant is another reason why this song has such a strong influence on me. This song is one of the perfect examples of how expressive, capable and “heavy” his voice is. Also, he sings quite suggestively and evocatively which also contributes to the whole “experience”.
“Robert’s vocal was just as extreme. He kept gaining confidence during the session and gave it everything he had. His vocals, like my solos, were about performance. He was pushing to see what he could get out of his voice. We were performing for each other, almost competitively.” (The Wall Street Journal)
In terms of lyrics, the song is quite easy to remember and sing with. The chorus are repeated and the verses include just a few lines. I should mention that there was a dispute going on concerning the words of “Whole Lotta Love” – the lyrics turned out to be quite similar with lyrics written by Willie Dixon for another song, recorded by Muddy Waters. Eventually, after a few lawsuits, Willie Dixon got the co-credit that, in my opinion, just had to be given a lot earlier. Overall, I truly enjoy the lyrics – nothing so deep, nothing so unreasonable and just simply talking about how we need love…
You need coolin’, baby, I’m not foolin’,
I’m gonna send you back to schoolin’,
Way down inside honey, you need it,
I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you my love.
Wanna Whole Lotta Love (X4)
You’ve been learnin’, baby, I’ve been yearnin’,
All them good times, baby, baby, I’ve been yearnin’,
Way, way down inside honey, you need it,
I’m gonna give you my love… I’m gonna give you my love.
You’ve been coolin’, baby, I’ve been droolin’,
All the good times I’ve been misusin’,
Way, way down inside, I’m gonna give you my love,
I’m gonna give you every inch of my love,
Gonna give you my love.
Way down inside… woman… You need… love.
Shake for me, girl. I wanna be your backdoor man.
Keep it coolin’, baby.
It’s an awesome song – no other opinion about it. It’s one of LZ’s early works, so it does mean a lot nowadays – it was a beginning of an era and proved that Led Zeppelin were a true rockstars. I hope I reminded some of you about this song and now you will play it and hopefully enjoy it as much as I do. I’m not a huge fan of the “futuristic”, “trippy”, “lusty” and yes – crazy middle part of the song in which Robert makes those weird sounds and John Bonham accompanies him with his drums BUT – that’s probably its biggest charm. I’m so gonna play it right now… I hope I can click the “stop” button because with this song it’s somehow quite difficult to do it… Cheers
1. “Jimmy Page Describes the Creation of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, retrieved from http://www.openculture.com
2. Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love” lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com
3. “Whole Lotta Love” – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs, retrieved from http://ultimateclassicrock.com
P.S I do not own any photo or video used in this publication. All the credit goes to the uploaders and the photographers of the materials.