Led Zeppelin – Tangerine

This song and Hey Hey What Can I Do are my top two favorite Zeppelin songs.

Jimmy Page wrote this and first recorded it when he was still with The Yardbirds. I’ve read where Yardbirds singer Keith Relf wrote some of the lyrics originally and was given some of the credit but the record company turned it down for release. Later on, Jimmy would use it on the 3rd Zeppelin album with his lyrics.

This was the last Zeppelin song Page wrote without any input from Robert Plant. It’s also the only track on Led Zeppelin III for which Plant didn’t write the lyrics.

At the time the album got mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Many fans wanted the same heavy albums as the first two. This album had a mix and they perfected it on their next album.

This was used at the end of the 2000 movie Almost Famous in a scene where a bus drives away…I thought the song was brilliant in that scene in the movie.

From Songfacts

Robert Plant would sometimes introduce this at concerts by saying: “This song is for our families and friends and people we’ve been close to. It’s a song of love at its most innocent stages.”

Jimmy Page played a pedal steel guitar on this track. He told Guitar Player magazine in 1977: “On the first LP there’s a pedal steel. I had never played steel before, but I just picked it up. There’s a lot of things I do first time around that I haven’t done before. In fact, I hadn’t touched a pedal steel from the first album to the third. It’s a bit of a pinch really from the things that Chuck Berry did. Nevertheless, it fits. I use pedal steel in ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come.’ It sounds like a slide or something. It’s more out of tune on the first album because I hadn’t got a kit to put it together.”

Why does this song fade to silence a few seconds in? Jimmy Page explained when previewing the song for Melody Maker in 1970: “That’s commonly known as a false start. It was a tempo guide, and it seemed like a good idea to leave it in – at the time. I was trying to keep the tempo down a bit. I’m not so sure now it was a good idea. Everybody asks what the hell is going on.”

Led Zeppelin played this during acoustic sets on their early tours.

This was the second Zeppelin song named after a fruit. “The Lemon Song” was the first.

According to Jimmy Page, this song was dedicated to Jackie DeShannon, who was his girlfriend when he wrote the song. DeShannon, a member of the Songwriting Hall of Fame, had hits as a singer with “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

This was recorded on April 4, 1968 at one of the last studio sessions for The Yardbirds, under the title “Knowing That I’m Losing You.” This first version performed by The Yardbirds, featured music almost identical to “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin, but with different lyrics (vocals by Keith Relf), and was never officially released. It was supposed to be included on the Cumular Limit compilation (which was released in 2000), together with other materials from the same sessions, but interestingly enough, Page vetoed the release of the song. Since then, the version from The Yardbirds has leaked onto the internet, and Page has been accused of ripping off a Yardbirds composition, simply changing the majority of the lyrics (probably initially written by Keith Relf) in order to avoid any problem with the other members of his previous group. This would explain his veto against the release of the original song. It is not easy to ascertain the above, as the remaining members of The Yardbirds haven’t spoken about the subject so far.



Measuring a summer’s day, I only finds it slips away to grey
The hours, they bring me pain

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

Thinking how it used to be
Does she still remember times like these?
To think of us again?
And I do

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

32 thoughts on “Led Zeppelin – Tangerine”

  1. It is a good song, but it is not even close to being one of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs. Since Eric Clapton was not involved with this song and Keith Relf is dead, Jim McCarty hardly writing any songs, Jeff Beck would be the only one who could say anything about Page ripping off a Yardbirds composition and I don’t think he cares.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beck wouldn’t care…but Jimmy probably wouldn’t want to be accused of it because of his past track record.
      It’s weird because I love reading about Zeppelin but I’ve never liked them like the Beatles, Who, Stones, and Kinks…

      I’m reading a book now about Peter Grant… the guy changed the business

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Almost Famous scene is always what I think of when I hear this song. Same with Misty Mountain Hop. The touches of Zeppelin in the movie were perfect. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wasn’t that movie great? They did such a good job on capturing that era. I was way too young to actually do anything in that era but it sure felt right.
      Tiny Dancer was well placed also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my all-time favorite movies. The Tiny Dancer part still makes me tear up a little, even after many, many, many watchings.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know the era had some bad things but I would have loved to grow up during that time… music meant more to people.

        Yes it’s one of my favorite scenes period.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It does sound good…his voice is a lot like Plants in this one. They kept it pretty close.

      Yea the Yardbirds version was a demo I believe. Jimmy didn’t want it released.

      I was telling Jim…its funny I love reading about them but they are no Who, Beatles or Stones to me. Maybe it’s that dark aura about them…I do like some a lot of their songs and Bonzo’s drumming…He is my second most favorite drummer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Led Zep is up there with Beatles and Stones and Kinks for me. Not sure why I never got into The Who. Does Ginger rank in your list of drummers? I know you did a post on it but I forgot if he was there?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea he is up there on my list…I went back and looked and he is 7 but that is just my personal preference of course…I have Levon higher because he played with soul.

        On youtube Led Zeppelin was playing in California in 77 and Moon got up with Bonzo and they played together. You can’t see a lot but it is cool. I would have loved to have seen that. As far as rock drummers they were fantastic…they died within a couple of years apart.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m listening to the song you posted today while writing this…another Led Zeppelin review since you are a fan. Just finished the Peter Grant audio book…great book…I’ll do a review this weekend…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. He does…but I often find his guitar tones just a little unpleasant. Always thought his ear was slightly off lol some absolutely amazing sounds in there as well of course but nowhere as dependably good-sounding as the others in the A team

        Liked by 1 person

  3. E-gads. I have NEVER heard this before and I’m a Zepplin fan. *sigh* I love Plant’s voice. The Yardbirds version…nah. I do like Big Head Todd & the Monsters, whether they channel Zep or their own stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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