Magazine article Guitar Player

You're Playing It Wrong: Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll"

Magazine article Guitar Player

You're Playing It Wrong: Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll"

Article excerpt

THERE ERE EXIST FAR TOO MANY VARIATIONS of Jimmy Page's 12--bar intro figure from Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" to single out just one wrong way to play it. And that's understandable, considering how many live versions are in circulation, and that the original studio version featured multiple overdubs. But if you want the real deal (referenced from The Song Remains the Same) for one-man playability, here 'tis.

First, you've gotta come in at the right time, so understanding John Bonham's deceptive, "where's one?" drum intro--which, like Jimi's "All Along the Watchtower," still throws me every time I hear it--is crucial. Legend has it that the song was conceived during a short, spontaneous jam after Bonham began playing the intro from Little Richard's "Keep A--Knockin'." Bonham accents his first hit so strongly that we are faked out into hearing it as beat one, when in actuality, he's playing a 3/8 pickup starting on the and of beat three. (Aha!) Ex.1 reveals the opening count, the pickup, and how Bonham accents a steady stream of eighth-notes over the course of four measures. Bars 1 and 2 are identical, with accents falling on the one and the and of beat three (just like the pickup). In bar 2, Bonham nails the downbeat, but shifts the next pair of accents to beat three and the and of beat four, and then crosses into bar 4 with two consecutive eighth note upbeats, followed by four accented eighths that serve as a lead--in for Page's guitar figure, which commences on the following downbeat. …

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