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This was Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's showcase song on early tours. His solo would last up to 20 minutes, while the rest of the band would leave the stage and grab a smoke. Bonham sometimes drew blood performing this from beating his hands on his snare and tom toms.
This is an instrumental song. According to Bonham's wife Pat, the song is named Moby Dick because his son asked him to play "The long song." When John asked why, the boy answered, "It's big like Moby." (thanks, Jay the jet - St Paul, MN)
This evolved out of a drum solo Bonham would play called "Pat's Delight," which was named after his wife. Jimmy Page would often catch Bonham jamming in the studio, and recorded parts of it, then pieced it all together.
Jimmy Page remixed this to flow seamlessly into "Bonzo's Montreux" on the Led Zeppelin boxed set.
The name of Bonham's drum solo was later changed to "Over The Top" for the 1977 US tour. It used the "Out On The Tiles" riff as an intro instead. (thanks, Chris - Whitesboro, NY)
Page added a guitar riff to the mix, which came from "The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair," a song Led Zeppelin recorded live for the BBC in the Spring of 1969. It appears on the BBC Sessions album. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Led Zeppelin often borrowed from American Blues recordings, and the guitar riff in this song bears a strong resemblance to the 1961 Bobby Parker song "Watch Your Step
." Led Zeppelin has faced criticism for using parts of obscure Folk and Blues songs and passing them off as their own, but it should be noted that riffs cannot be copyrighted, and many famous musicians have borrowed in a similar fashion. A notable example is The Beatles "I Feel Fine
," which was also influenced by Parker's "Watch Your Step."
An anti-littering campaign in the United States used this for its theme music in the mid '70s. (thanks, Ken - Ann Arbor, MI)
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