52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

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
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' about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago... Going to Chicago... Sorry but I can't take you...
Going down... going down now... going down....


  • At 5:04 pm, Blogger Erika said…

    What IS that song, ST? It has the repetition style of classic three-chord blues.

  • At 8:36 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    Led Zeppelin, 'When The Levee Breaks'.

    I'd just been watching the news about the evactuation, and it seemed apt.

    I've read a whole lot of nasty stuff in blog-o-world on this subject - both posts and comments, and I thought that this expresses the sorrow of the whole thing quite neatly, and certainly better than a whole lot of words from me could ever do.



  • At 9:26 pm, Blogger red one said…

    Swiss - that is well chosen. I have also had various blues tracks going through my head ( it was Baby Please Don't Go that started it) but not this one, although it's perhaps the most literally appropriate of all.

    You will see that I agree with Ka - it looks like blues to me. The structure, the lyrics, the subject matter. Are you sure LZ weren't doing a cover?

    I've got a fair bit of this sort of thing on disc and I'll have a look later to see if I've got this anywhere... I've been playing my favourite blues compilation over and over.

    Yes, RedOne gets the blues...

  • At 9:30 pm, Blogger Ali said…

    Louis Armstrong has been in my brain, singing 'When the saints go marching in";

    "When the rich go out and work
    When the rich go out and work
    Oh lord I want to be in that number
    When the saints go marching in

    When the air is pure and clean
    When the air is pure and clean
    Oh lord I want to be in that number
    When the saints go marching in

    When we all have food to eat
    When we all have food to eat
    Oh lord I want to be in that number
    When the saints go marching in

    When our leaders learn to cry
    When our leaders learn to cry
    Oh lord I want to be in that number
    When the saints go marching in"

  • At 9:36 pm, Blogger red one said…

    No, don't think I've got a recording of this.

    But here's a link dating the lyrics back to 1929. I've got other stuff by Memphis Minnie, but not the one you found.

    Thanks for posting it, Swiss.


  • At 9:38 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    It could well be a cover, but it is certainly a blues track, so well-spotted.

    (LZ were basically a blues band, as were a lot of those early rock groups. The Rolling Stones, bless'em, still are, apparently.)


  • At 9:59 pm, Blogger John McClure said…

    [geek fest] The song was written in its original form (see red's link) by Memphis Minnie in 1927. It was first recorded by Kansas Joe in 1929 and then later that year by Memphis Minnie. The inspiration for the song came from the 1927 flooding of the Mississippi, which broke numerous levees and flooded several (predominantly black) areas, forcing most of the inhabitants to move to Chicago or New Orleans.

    In the album notes, the song is a attributed to "Jimmy Page / Robert Plant / John Paul Jones / John Bonham / Memphis Minnie"

    Not just because of the tightness of Robert Plant's trousers, the song could also be taken as an extended metaphor for getting your end away, but in this context, it would probably be a bit gauche of me to go into that.

    Final factoid: Led Zeppelin rarely played this one live because it was almost impossible to recreate the central drum sound - on the album, Bonham sat at the bottom of a stone stairwell and was recorded by two microphones suspended from the top - hence the echo.

    [/geek fest]

  • At 10:14 pm, Blogger red one said…

    John - thank you for the geekfest. I feel like an idiot for not putting it together with the 1927 flood, which I've been reading about recently.

    Apparently in 1927 the authorities decided to deal with the rising Mississippi and imminent flood by opening the levees and deliberately flooding parts of the city that were mainly the home of poorer black people in order to divert the waters away from where the rich whites lived.

    Of course there have been big changes since those days.

    Or not.


  • At 10:38 pm, Blogger red one said…

    And here it is with Kansas Joe singling and Memphis Minnie on second guitar.


  • At 10:45 pm, Blogger red one said…

    Swiss - big thanks for all of this. It was the best thing you could have posted if you'd been specially aiming at my state of mind tonight.


  • At 11:13 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    No - thanks to you Red. It's good to know that these things don't disappear into a vacuum, and that some us feel the same thing from time to time. Thanks for the link to the song too (and thanks to John for the geekfest - I knew I could rely on you for a bit of LZ trivia).

    It's a great song, and I was a bit worried lest I fall into cliche.


  • At 11:17 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    I have to admit that the irony of the picture put me in a mixed mood. An older black woman swathed in the flag...when there's probably very little that this country has ever done for her.

    It brings to mind a speech I had to read in high school "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" by Frederick Douglas.

  • At 11:34 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    I was appalled by 2 things on the news about all of this yesterday:

    1) A boat containing a British newscrew found an old black guy on his porch. They asked him why he was staying, and he said he wasn't, he was just waiting to be picked up and be evacuated. He was ready. No one had come. They had a look around his house, and then gave him a ride. They found some troops and tried to drop him off. None of the troops knew what to do with him, and took no responsibility for him. They actually turned away.

    2) A BBC reporter found a body on a bridge. Great. There are lots of bodies. Yes, but this body was right next to the biggest collection of police cars and ambulances you have ever seen. The reporter went up to one, and said "Have you see that body?". The guy said "Yes, it's been there for a number of days".
    "Are you going to do anything about it? Doesn't it deserve a decent burial."
    "Yes it does, but we're from out of town...." etc. etc. etc.

    Appalling. appalling.

    That and the camcorder footage 2 british travellers brought back to England from their stay in the SuperDome, when they were abandoned by the Police after dark, and where they heard gangs attacking people, and women being raped....


    Cryin' won't help you. Prayin' won't do you no good.



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