Australian charts: 1972
BONUS CLIP BELOW – live recording at Madison Square Garden
Black Dog peaked at no 9 on the Go-Set National Top 40 in April 1972.
John Paul Jones, who is credited with writing the main riff, was inspired by Muddy Waters’ controversial 1968 album Electric Mud. He added a winding riff and complex rhythm changes, that biographer Keith Shadwick describes as a “clever pattern that turns back on itself more than once, crossing between time signatures as it does.” The group had a difficult time with the turnaround, but John Bonham’s solution was to play it straight through as if there was no turnaround. In live performances, Bonham eliminated the 5-4 variation so that Plant could perform his a cappella vocal interludes and then have the instruments return at the proper time.
The title does not appear in the lyrics, and has nothing to do with the song itself. The band worked up the song at Headley Grange, a mansion in Hampshire, England that is out in the country, surrounded by woods. A nameless black Labrador retriever would wander the grounds, and the band would feed it. When they needed a name for this track, which didn’t have an obvious title, they thought of the canine and went with “Black Dog.”
This song is also on our Spotify playlist.
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