Classic Rock Lyrics

When The Levee Breaks Lyrics - Led Zeppelin

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay.

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Lord, mean old levee taught me to weep and moan,
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.

Don't it make you 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
They go no work to do,
If you don't know about Chicago.

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
Now, cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin' 'bout me baby and my happy home.
Going, go'n' to Chicago,
Go'n' to Chicago,
Sorry but I can't take you.
Going down, going down now, going down.

The distinctive drum sound was created by setting up drums in the hallway of Headley Grange, where they were living and recording. They set up 2 overhead microphones and let John Bonham pound away.
Based on a 1929 recording of the same name by Blues artist Memphis Minnie. Plant had the record in his collection.
Heavily produced in the studio, it was difficult to perform live, which they did only a few times on their 1975 US tour.
The vocals were processed differently on each verse, sometimes with phasing added.
Jimmy Page's backward echo technique, where he would put the echo ahead of the sound, was used on the harmonica.
Was very difficult to mix, and due to extensive processing, is best appreciated with headphones.
Many rap songs have sampled the drums on this. For sampling purposes, this is great because of the clean, uninterrupted drum break at the beginning. The Beastie Boys used it on "Rymin' And Stealin'", which opened their first album, License To Ill. Other songs to use it include "Lyrical Gangbang" by Dr. Dre and "Beats And Pieces" by Coldcut.
In an interview, either Page or Plant said the reason the song sounds so weird is that they recorded it at a different tempo, then slowed it down. Plant then sang in the sort of in between key the song was now in, which explains its sort of flat and sludgy sound, particularly on the harmonica and guitar solos. This also made it very difficult to accurately reproduce live. (thanks, Jared - Meadville, PA)
This song was the only one on the album that was not remixed after a supposedly disastrous mixing job in the US (the rest of the tracks were mixed again in England). The original mixing done on this song seemed to suit it very well, so it was kept in its original form. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
Coldplay also sampled the drum break at the beginning of this song in their song "In My Place." it is the same except for the addition of the cymbals. (thanks, Rizwana - Montclair, NJ)
This song unfortunately wrung true for the people of New Orleans after the levee broke in 2005.  Check out this clip of Hurricane Katrina.

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