I talk about this a lot but this guitar riff is great and makes the song for me. I like how they ease into Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just a Woman).
Heartbreaker was ranked number 328 in 2004 by Rolling Stone magazine, in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was credited to all four members of the band, “Heartbreaker” was produced by Jimmy Page and engineered by Eddie Kramer.
The solo is something different in this song. Jimmy Page does not play it with the band. He plays it by himself in a break in the song. Page didn’t find out until years later that the solo was in a different pitch than the rest of the song…but it sounded great.
The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, the UK, and Canada in 1969.
Eddie Van Halen: I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his “Heartbreaker” solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string … pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.
Jimmy Page: “The interesting thing about the solo is that it was recorded after we had already finished ‘Heartbreaker’ – it was an afterthought. That whole section was recorded in a different studio and it was sort of slotted in the middle.”
Eddie Krammer: “I met Page for the first time in Pye studios when I was working on sessions of The Kinks. Page had earned a certain reputation as a studio guitarist. I also worked with John Paul Jones on a few sessions, and we became friends. Jones was a brilliant musician. He wrote arrangements for chord orchestras and he could play many instruments extremely well. Before I left England to work with Jimi Hendrix at Record Plant studio in New York, in April 1968, Jonesy had invited me at his place to have me listen to a few demos of his new group, Led Zeppelin. I remember it sounded very heavy, and I was surprised that Jimmy Page played guitar because I didn’t know they were friends. Jonesy was very proud of John Bonham, an ex-mason from the north of England who could hit it hard on the drums, as well as of Robert Plant, their wild singer. While I wasn’t convinced by the name they had chosen, I wished them good luck. Then in ’69, I was working at Electric Lady studios when I received a call from Steve Weiss, Jimi’s right-hand man, saying that Led Zeppelin was in town. Page called later to tell he wanted I help him release what they had recorded and to make a few more tracks. Led Zeppelin had been a major success for Atlantic and they were urging Jimmy to finish the second album. Their schedule however wasn’t very arranging. So we ended up listening, doubling, recording and mixing in many different studios around New York, including Groove Sound, a nice R&B 8-track studio.
This opens Side 2 of Led Zeppelin II and goes right into “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (she’s just a woman)” on the album. Radio stations usually play them together, but “Maid” was never performed live by Led Zeppelin.
A crowd favorite, Led Zeppelin sometimes opened live shows with it.
At concerts, Jimmy Page would stretch out the guitar solo and incorporate bits of other songs, like “Greensleeves,” “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” and Bach’s “Bouree in C minor.”
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones performed this at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in 1988 with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father.
Led Zeppelin opened many of their live shows in 1971 and 1972 with “Immigrant Song,” followed by a segue right into this.
Eddie Kramer, sound engineer on Led Zeppelin II, told Guitare & Claviers in 1994 how he ended up working on the album:
Hey fellas have you heard the news?
You know that Annie’s back in town?
It won’t take long just watch and see
How the fellas lay their money down
Her style is new but the face is the same
As it was so long ago
But from her eyes a different smile
Like that of one who knows
Well it’s been ten years and maybe more
Since I first set eyes on you
The best years of my life gone by
Here I am alone and blue
Some people cry and some people die
By the wicked ways of love
But I’ll just keep on rollin’ along
With the grace of the Lord above
People talkin’ all around ’bout the way you left me flat
I don’t care what the people say, I know where their jive is at
One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do
It’s the way you call me by another guy’s name when I try to make love to you, yeah
I try to make love but it ain’t no use
Give it to me, give it
Work so hard I couldn’t unwind
Get some money saved
Abuse my love a thousand times
However hard I tried
Heartbreaker, your time has come
Can’t take your evil way
Go away heartbreaker