Led Zeppelin – Good Times, Bad Times

The first song on Led Zeppelin’s 1968 debut album, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page are the credited songwriters on this track. Jones and Bonham really stand out on this track.

To get the sound on his guitar Page ran his guitar through a Leslie cabinet to make the swirling sound. A Leslie cabinet has a speaker in it that spins and makes the sound swirl. The Beatles and Buddy Guy first used that effect with a guitar in 1965. Before that, it was used mostly with the Hammond Organ.

This song peaked at #80 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

Jimmy Page: “John Paul Jones came up with the riff. I had the chorus. John Bonham applied the bass-drum pattern. That one really shaped our writing process. It was like, ‘Wow, everybody’s erupting at once.”

 

From Songfacts

John Bonham used a device called a “Triplet” on his bass drum for this song to get a double bass pedal sound. He used the tip of his toe to flick the bass pedal back fast, creating an effect many drummers tried to copy. Jimmy Page explained in the BBC Book Guitar Greats, “‘Good Times, Bad Times,’ as usual, came out of a riff with a great deal of John Paul Jones on bass, and it really knocked everybody sideways when they heard the bass drum pattern, because I think everyone was laying bets that Bonzo was using two bass drums, but he only had one.” 

Led Zeppelin played this at their live shows until 1970.

Page put microphones all over the studio to capture a live sound when they recorded this.

When the band reformed for a benefit show on December 10, 2007 with Jason Bonham playing drums in place of his father, this was the first song in the set. Bassist John Paul Jones told Rolling Stone magazine after the show: “That’s the hardest riff I ever wrote, the hardest to play.”

There are some rumors that “Good Times Bad Times” (and “Your Time Is Gonna Come”) was played in its entirety once or twice in 1968 when the group was transitioning from The New Yardbirds to Led Zeppelin. However, there is no recording of this, and there’s no complete version on any of the unofficial live recordings from 1968 to 1980, the closest being inside a “Communication Breakdown” medley on September 4, 1970, in which John Paul Jones played a bass solo. They did play parts of it in different medleys, usually either “Communication Breakdown” or, most often “Whole Lotta Love.” The first recorded instance of the entire song being played by the full band is the 2007 reunion.

Good Times, Bad Times

In the days of my youth
I was told what it was to be a man
Now I’ve reached the age
I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can
No matter how I try
I find my way to do the same old jam

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

Sixteen I fell in love
With a girl as sweet as could be
Only took a couple of days
Till she was rid of me
She swore that she would be all mine
And love me till the end
When I whispered in her ear
I lost another friend

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

Good times, bad times
You know I had my share
When my woman left home
With a brown eyed man
Well, I still don’t seem to care

I know what it means to be alone
I sure do wish I was at home
I don’t care what the neighbors say
I’m gonna love you each and every day
You can feel the beat within my heart
Realize, sweet babe, we ain’t ever gonna part