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.

 

Tangerine

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