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The Lemon Song

by

Led Zeppelin



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is very similar to a Blues song by Howlin' Wolf called "Killing Floor." It was so similar, Wolf was eventually given a composer credit. On the original British copies of Led Zeppelin II, the label on the record lists "Killing Floor" as the third track and is credited to Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf's real name), while the liner lists "The Lemon Song" and credits Led Zeppelin. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Some lyrics are from Blues singer Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues." Led Zeppelin played "Traveling Riverside Blues" for a BBC session in 1969, but the song was never released on an album. It was placed on their Box Set in 1990, and was also a bonus track on the Coda album for the Complete Studio Recordings. (thanks, A.J. - Toledo, OH)
No electronic devices were used to create the echo on Robert Plant's vocal. It was made by the acoustics in the studio and by his voice.
This contains a lot of sexual references ("squeeze my lemon"). Some people were offended, but Zeppelin's fans didn't have a problem with it.
Led Zeppelin recorded this in Los Angeles when they were on their second tour of America.
Plant often made up lyrics when he sang this live, usually making them even more sexually suggestive.
You can hear drummer John Bonham's gong at the beginning of this song. The Chinese gong added theatrical value to Bonham's drum kit. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin Artistfacts
More Led Zeppelin songs
More songs that were adapted from early Blues songs
More songs about sex
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Comments (97):

Rumor has it that Robert Plant stuffed a lemon in his denim trousers for all the ladies to admire while he sang on stage.
- Josh, Champaign, IL
For Zep, lemon juice implied something, just as Trampled Underfoot was about a hot car! (hot __rod__!)In 1969 we must have worn out ten phono needles playing their first album!
- rich, Portsmouth, NH
When I saw the title to the third track on Led Zeppelin II I asked myself, "Why in the hell would anybody ever write a song about a damn lemon?" Then I listened to the track and thought, "Oh my God, this song kicks ass."
- Thomas, Roswell, NM
If you isolate the bass track, which is rather easy to do on a good stereo since pretty much all of Led Zeppelin's tracks are well recorded and well mixed thanks to Mr. Page's great production work and keen ear, you will find JPJ's work about the funkiest of all Zep tracks. He is playing what I like to call "lead bass", in that he's got his own melody but he's fitting it perfectly around Page's guitar parts. This song is really a rather unknown Zep track compared to "Stairway" and "Rock n Roll" and the like, but I think it's one of their best. None of the rubbish about hobbits, vikings, and conquering armies of Mordor. Just snarling, bare, stripped down sex, and kickin blues done by all four of them. Sad they never played it live after '69.
- Joe, North Olmsted, OH
So, I found a collection of blues and R&B sex songs called Let me Squeeze Your Lemon. While Led Zeppelin's song was not on there, I think this is a collection they might've enjoyed. ;) And yes, I did think of this song when I saw the title of the collection.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
As a fan of Howlin' Wolf as well as Led Zeppelin, I decided to answer some questions about the song Killing Floor. It was a big hit for wolf in t wahe early 60's, and was later covered by Jimi Hendrix, although he never recorded it. It was entirely the basis for the Lemon Song. Before the release of Led Zeppelin II, Robert Plant often introduced the song in concert as killing floor. The song is about a man who is angry at his girlfriend and is going to leave her. The phrase "killing floor" is a metaphor to the working are of a slaughter house, because he feels so much pain from being betrayed. Zeppelin put a more positive, and sexier, spin on the lyrics by adding many new lines and deleting many old ones.
- alex, new jersey, NJ
I was looking for the meaning behind the line "Down on the killing floor" and if that is about supporting a family with alimony checks in a job that:"rips the bones from your back," as Springsteen so aptly sang, or if its about just working 9-5 at any job that is taking your life away.
- Harry, Sunnyvale, CA
JPJ's bass on this song is sick!
- Tanya, La Verne, CA
Robert Johnson nicked the line "squeeze my lemon" from an earlier song by Arthur McKay called "She Squeezed My Lemon", which came out before "Traveling Riverside Blues".
- P, Lakewood, OH
BTW DAZ - I once composed a list (which I still have lying around) of '70s songs ('80s too) with some pretty damn solid, tight, and intuitive bass lines. Not just "cool" rock bands, but some "softy rock", Top-40, Pop-rock, and neo-psychedelic tunes. A few examples:
1)Rolling Stones "Miss You"
2)Patrice Rushen "Forget Me Nots"
3)Steely Dan "Peg"
4)Todd Rundgren's Utopia "Freak Parade"
5)Jefferson Starship "With Your Love"
6)Traffic "Walking In The Wind"

These are but a few tunes with some executive bass work in them. All deserve a listen. Not always "hard" per se, but intuitive bass lines that drive the songs they're in.
- Jesse, Madison, WI
According to Jerry, John Paul Jones neither composed nor played the bass part because he needed Jimmy Paige(sic) to compose and play the part because he played bass for the "yardbyrds(sic)".... Time to lay off the Behind The Music mock-controversy. I'm pretty god-damn sure JPJ played and composed the part.

Now with corrections: Jimmy Page played for The Yardbirds. Some people need to do their research before making asinine assumptions!
- Jesse, Madison, WI
Will someone please tell me the whole story of this song?? if possible? just learned it on my guitar and i think i have a big idea of what plant is singing about but i wanna be 110% sure! thanks. amazing song btw
- Caleb, Arlington, TX
Oh my this brings me back, I was in the second wave of Zepplin fans, children of the original Zepplin fans. I could not get enough , heavy guitar , moving from speaker to speaker, and the lyrics , clever , funny and unexpected.
- Hope, Watertown, NY
Tara, from Petoskey, MI... you need to go to newegg.com and get a pair of JVC HA-S350 headphones, plug em into your computer and listen to all led zeppelin songs. i have those, and when you put them on for the first time, your head just fills up with the bass part and that is all you will want to hear. i liked them so much i am starting to learn the bass guitar!!! just listen to all of their songs, but most notably (besides this) dazed and confused, what is and what should never be, heartbreaker, and black dog just off the top of my head. enjoy! :D
- DAZ, N Richland Hills, TX
Amazing playing and singing by all band members (like on every song) nice little reference to the great Robert Johnson.
- David, Los Angeles , CA
To be honest, the sexual refrences wasn't the first thing that I noticed about the song. It was the amazing bass part by John Paul Jones! You don't hear much bass grooves in Zeppelin songs.
- Tara, Petoskey, MI
ok people, blues is sexy! blues is sex! this is a blues song, hence its about sex because nothin makes pple wanna screw more than hearing that opening guitar riff. squeez away
- Nick, Seattle, Albania
...the thought of that lemon juice running down Plant's leg has always held a great fascination for me.
Just saying :-)
- Carole, Sacramento, CA
This song is known as one of the greatest Bass songs of all time, John Paul Jones really hits the bass exactly perfect
- William, Pheonix, AZ
Yep, it's a real giggler, what with the sexual references.
Great bit of traditional blues reinterpreted, though.
btw...regarding the line borrowed directly from Robert Johnson, "Squeeze my lemon/Till the juice runs down my legs," Johnson sings that exactly as Plant did, but he intones immediately after saying that "till the juice runs down my legs, baby, you know what I'm talkin' about" repeats the lyric, then says "that's what I'm talkin' about!"
Very surprising that Robert Johnson was able to get a recording that was so racy, what with all the overt racism and that it was so early in the 20th century, but then look at Muddy Waters' "I Just Want To Make Love To You" or the original "Big Ten Inch Record."
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
i was just eating a lemon filled donut when this song came into my head. wow... i almost threw down my doughnut, but instead i laughed... i will never be able to eat any lemon flavored anything with a straight face again...
- Olivia, Columbia, SC
I can't believe there are no songs by Howlin' Wolf on songfacts! He was very influential many bands including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and, of course, Led Zeppelin. Half the lyrics in this song, as everyone knows, are from Wolf's "Killing Floor"
- Roy, Granbania, MA
This is baby making music, thats what this is!
- heather, madrid, Spain
This was played live in 1969 as Killing Floor.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
And yes, the copy of Zeppelin 2 with "Killing Floor" listed as this song's title is indeed quite rare and likely worth a lot of money. Check to see.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
Zeppelin was extremely obsessed with the "Squeeze my lemon" line early in their career. They were so obsessed with it (frequently adding the line to songs live that did not contain the line in the studio version)that I'm really surprised that they did not pass around a big crate of lemons (the actual fruit, not the lemon mentioned in the line)for the crowd to have and, when the line was said, for the crowd to squeeze until the juice came out. It's almost unbelievable Zeppelin did not do that, considering how obsessed with "lemons" they were.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
About For Your Life: For Your Life is indeed about drugs even though it mentions the lemon and the "blow it right babe" line. However, it was a song putting down a friend of Plant's who had at that time just recently gotten into drugs. It was his way of saying "Shame on you!!" to her.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
One of the best examples of Zep mixing blues with boogie...JPJ definitely carried this song from after the second verse where he interittantly goes nuts (clearly an improv) doubling up on his notes perfectly with Bonzo's snare, and then changing his time signature to boogie after the first 24 bars..oh yeah Page does some great overdubbed solos (it isn't entirely live) but not very complex or imaginitive..the rhythm section carries it...Bubba Anaheim Hills, CA
- bubba, anaheim, CA
Alec in US.I too have an original British Copy of Led Zep 2 with 'Killing Floor 'listed instead of 'Lemon Song' Do we know if it is rare?
- Mandy, LEEDS, England
joe from pennsylvania, "For your life" is actually about drugs. Although it does reference the word lemon in it. The lemon song is an excellent song, the bass line is fabulous. And the lyrics... "squeeze my lemon" that's not offensive, just funny :p
- Melanie, Seattle, WA
Thank Thank You Bryan,this like most Led Zepellin (Dred Craplin!) songs is just terrible!
- LucyintheSky, Philadelphia, PA
If you listen during the first guitar solo, you can hear voices. Stuff like "It's all right, all right!"
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
if this almost made you vomit you dont know good music man...and the bass line is one of the best in a song ever
- Kenneth, Cleveland, MS
Man, I wish I could say that this song is about a real lemon. I wish I could. This song almost made me vomit. Yuck.
- Bryan, Super Zero, SC
I really love this song!!!the guitar sounds great and full of madness.I can just imagine Jimmy Page playing it(ahh).I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but everytime I hear robert plant sing such lyrics-full of sexual innuendos(like trampled underfoot,the lemon song,travelling riverside blues and even dazed and confused((the live version)))I just love it, I love his voice, his style, this song in generall.I like this thing so much. I really do not understand that some people don't like it or that they are offended because of the lyrics. And for those people I'd like to say:''these are led zeppelin guys, welcome to their world........!!!!!!!'' and this kind of lyrics made me love Robert Plant and led zeppelin more:)......
- maria, athens, Greece
PAUL, you must be kidding.Custard Pie is a zep song.It's the first song of the''physical graffiti''album!!!!.......
- maria, athens, Greece
I should have quit you a long time ago! ahhh the first zeppelin song i heard, oh so long ago. magnificent (even if it is about sex)
- Joe, Bellingham, WA
Travelling riverside blues and cross roads were written both written by Robert Johnson Cream just made Crossroads famous
- jake, Louisville, KY
Sublime used a few guitar riffs and baselines from this one on their song "Get Out".
- Ed, Ottawa, Canada
At 4:53 into the song, you can hear someone very faintly say, "Yeah.." Does anybody know who it is? I think it sounds like John Bonham, but I may be wrong.
- Elaine, Spokane, WA
This is Jones' best baseline he ever came up with. it is one for many wannabees to emulate.!
- that dude, This place, CO
Oh wow... *cough*. Had to listen to this song a few times before I realized what was going on in the lyrics. LOL.
But hey- of course a band like Zeppelin is going to be singing about sex. This song is still amazing. The guitar is INSANE. The bass is also really cool on this song.
- Mandy, Calgary
I'd just like to point out that plant was only 21 when this song came out. Of course He's going to be thinking of and writing about sex, especially where he was getting as much of it as he wanted from 1968-present.
- Alan, London, England
When that guitar kicks in...Awesome!
- Cameron, Irvine, CA
haha... that would be funny if it was about an actual lemon;)
- Trisha, OKC, OK
jerry, if you were such a led zep fan you would know that Page does not spell his name "Paige"
- Trisha, OKC, OK
I disagree Jerry. Biggest reason being that this isnt even JPJ's most complex bass piece, and because it sounds like you're implying that he wasnt capable of creating something this good on the bass by himself. Led Zeppelin wasn't Jimmy Page, they were Led Zeppelin.. greatest TEAM of all time, in any category. Naivete is a disease carried by 99.99% of young people.. and its vastly contagious. Be careful.
- Sean, Colorado Springs, CO
Well, "You Shook Me" is probably about sex too. I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
I agree with Paul about this song. I don't think "you Shook Me" is about the same thing though.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
this song took the longest to record on led zeppelin 2 as shown evidently on the many diffrent unfinished bootlegs on the internet because of the bassline and rumor has it that jimmy paige came up with the bassline alongside with jones, as its known jimmy paige played bass on the yardbyrds first album most notably on over under sideways where many of the note progresions are similar to that of the lemon song also note that john paul jones was a seasoned keyboardist not a bass player and he joined led zeppelin with the exception he play bass also worth mentioning that the led zeppelin live version of the lemon song does not have the same bass line as the album and was one the least played songs by led zeppelin live because of the bassline so theres more controversy here than meets the eye
- jerry619, san diego, United States
This song makes me giggle hyterically when I hear it. But hey, its nothing to be surprized about because almost every band has songs and lyrics like that. oh, and to grey in TN, I agree with you. Jim morrison's voice is kinda low in pitch.
- Galina, New London, CT
Paul is right about one thing, it IS a double entendre.. all the lemon squeezing does have a sexual connotation (certainly not as strong as those found in The Wanton Song, or Whole Lotta Love, etc.), but 'squeeze my lemon' is an old blues term meaning 'play something that makes me cry.' Hence, Squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg, means both the sexual connotation, and play some great blues. Its little things like this that go a long way in explaining why Led Zeppelin are my favorite band. A side note, this is also my absolute favorite JPJ bass piece.
- Sean, Colorado Springs, CO
I think this song is a double entendre. It's both about sex and about being "mistreated" in a relationship. In other words, he's "gonna fall right out of bed both from sex and from his "troubles." I think You Shook Me is also a similar double entendre.
- Paul, Cincinnati, OH
The bass is so amazing, and so is the song. I like a lot of Zeppelin's earlier stuff. Y'know, the bluesy stuff. This is song is one of their best straight-up blues songs, and no, I am not offended by it. It's pretty dang funny.
- Collin, Midland, TX
The Lemon Song appeared on a hand full of early Zepp 2 album sleeves printed Killing Floor on the song listing inside,my friend has one such copy, anyone else got one the same ?
This is here in the uk
- alec wilson, kendal, United States
o right: btw nasty is not supposed to have a bad connotation people! sorry if i look offended!! i probably posted that in the dark days (aka midsummer) when i didn't know much about led zeppelin!! and custard pie is a song. a good song.
- Jeanette, Irvine, CA
I,ve never told anybody this but...I had a dream ooh yeeaahh!! crazy dreamm. I was walking along the beach and Roberd Plant and I were talking and holding hands!! Now let me tell you, I,m in no way gay but I will never forgive myself for not going out of my way to try and meet RP just once.
They were beyond Gods to me. When i was 18, (many years ago) I listened to 3 and Houses until both albums were totally worn out. Yes and JPJ never got the credit he deserved. I bought Song Remains The Same, the day Bonham died. I always knew what the lemon song was about. When I was an apprentice, I would sing Since I,ve been loving
you in my head all day long. A friend (no longer) once told me "led Zepplin are crap, they have no production values" well, stuff him I just loved Zep because every song does something to me. By the way whats custard pie?
- Paul, Evansford, Australia
i'm not offended! this song ROCKS! o yah and yes i know led zeppelin has lots of sex okay that one just caught me off guard.
- Jeanette, Irvine, CA
hey what if this song is sexual? wot dyou mean by NASTY? man i think it made the song funnier and better, don't see why people get offended..?!
cool song, led zep rock so hard
- maya, cal, United States
actually i think custard pie is nastier.
- Jeanette, Irvine, CA
okay jim: yeah black dog is up there too. and custard pie.
and joe for your life is about drugs not sex. that's what i thought too but then the other lyrics make it more clear. but i'm grateful to this song cuz this guy told a bunch of people to go on lemonparty.com but luckily i knew what a lemon was thanks to this song so i didn't fall for it like some other people i know...
- Jeanette, Irvine, CA
Meh may be sexual but it can be one of the greatest songs to play with an electric guitar amp cranked up.
- Matthew, Sarasota, FL
They also managed to work in the "Squeeze my Lemon" section into live versions of "How Many More Times."
- Matt, Trenton, Canada
I've never heard "For Your Life."
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Sorry Jeanette, the nastiest Led Zeppelin song ever made is For Your Life. With lrics like When you blow it, babe, You got to blow it right
Oh baby, if you fake it, mama, Baby, fake with all your might
When you fake it, mama, Please fake it right

Talk about foward.
- joe, Bethlahem, PA
Oops, I missed your reference to black dog, sorry!
- Jim, North Billerica, MA
You mean there's a Led Zeppelin song about sex? I'm Shocked, just shocked, I tell you! Hey Jeannette, Wouldn't Black Dog be right up there with the nastiest of songs, too?
- Jim, North Billerica, MA
Also plant was very sexual anyway.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Jeanette. That's one of the things you should know about led Zeppelin. Quite a few of their songs either were about sex or had sexual references. That doesn't mean they aren't good songs though.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
okay this song gets number one for nastiest led zeppelin song shortly followed by trampled underfoot and black dog. i had no idea what a "lemon" was until i (completely innocently) was sitting in my room listening to this song and overheard the phrase "the way you squeeze my lemon i'm gonna fall right out of the bed" and then suddenly the song took on a whole new meaning... o well its still a good song. i hope it actually is about a prostitute and just about- um- robert plant getting a little too sexually crazy.
- Jeanette, Irvine, CA
Very sexual song. My interpretation of this song is that it's about a prostitute: "bring home my money, you take my money, give it to another man", one who Plant get enough of and always goes back. And the "juice" is self-explanatory and leaving his children (sperm) at this killing floor.
- Eddie, Los Angeles, CA
The Lemon Song was a great Zep song. I would not call it one of the best,true the bass riff by JPJ was outstounding, the bass work on Achillies last satnd was awesome,on the Live version he played the bass in rythm as Jimmy page played the lead.
- Cardel Turner, Anaheim, CA
the bass was totally inprovised... and its like the sweetest part of the song... JPJ never got enough credit for his role.... i mean.. he made 'no quarter', hes a god.... with the rest
- nick, baton rouge, LA
It is actually thought by many that the bass in this song was played by Page, not JPJ.
- Will, Nashua, NH
Just a thought... but maybe "The Lemon Song' wouldn't have been as great, if it wasn't as sexual as it wass It's one of Zep's best songs, regardless of whether it was barrowed or not. the guitar solos are great also, and yeah, JPJ does some great stuff on the bass! o yeah, Plant's vocals are amazing, too!
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
This song is typical blues. They just "borrow" riffs and lyrics from classic blues songs. Killing Floor is a blues classic, and all the lemon squeezing is a sexual metaphor first recorded by Robert Johnson 60 years ago.
- Mark, Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada
can anyone tell me the significance of "I'm gonna leave my children down on this killing floor. " ???
- adriana, st. louis, MO
I also play the bass, and look up to John Paul Jones as my bass idol. He had the most amazing soft finger technique. This is one of his best works.
- Brandon, Victoria, Canada
With all this talkn of sex and lemon squeezing it makes you wonder. What if he was talking about a lemon? Just a random thought.
- Ian, New York, NY
I play bass, and yes, the bass is mindblowing. I believe Jahn Paul Jones is probably one of the most underrated musicians of all time, not only did he play bass, keyboard, and mandolin, he was an incredible composer. Although, the bass is hardly ever credited with anything. C'mon people. Without the bass (or some sort of bass instrument) theres nothing, disregarding folk.
- Mark Bacigalupo, Windham, NH
zeppelin is a sexual band...plant was a sexual lead singer...kind of like morrison for the doors...a little better singer though(in my opinion)
- Grey, knoxville, TN
definately a cool song.. even if it does have sexual references.. but who gives a crap... its a cool song
- Bonnie, Pittsburgh, PA
Thank you Jon, Keewa, and Dylan! The quiet bassist finally gets some credit!!!
- Adrian, Wilmington, DE
Baseline is mindblowing
- Jon, Chicago, IL
a Greatly underrated Bass player comes into the spotlight

a completely improvised one-take bass solo too!
- keewa, Fairbanks, AL
Jones is an underrated bassist because most people who only have heard stairway but his basslines in this are the best i think ive ever heard...maybe cause im only 14
- dylan, marietta, PA
By the way, "Traveling Riverside Blues", in true blues fashion, has many lyrics in common with Cream's "Crossroads."
- BlackDog, New Milford, NJ
The song was originally called "Killing Floor" and was labeled as such on the master tape.
- BlackDog, New Milford, NJ
"The way you squeeze my lemon,
I'm gonna fall right out of bed bed bed bed, yeah"
Funny!
- janelle, new york city, NY
Re:Big Log - a not-so-subtle reference to his own "Lemon"!
- Pants, Calgary, Canada
In Zeppelin's version of Travelling Riverside Blues, Plant sings "squeeze my lever till the juice runs down my leg"
- kabrams, Dallas, TX
In Robert Plant's solo video for "Big Log," he holds up a lemon while singing. No apparent reason. I wondered if it's just a subtle "Lemon Song" reference.
- john, seattle, WA
Jones's bass work on this is incredible! And I'll never forget being 16 and hearing the "Squeeze my lemon" line for the first time. At the time of this recording, Plant wanted all the girls to squeeze his lemon ;-)
- Adrian, Wilmington, DE
The "Squeeze my lemon...." line is word for word from Robert Johnson's song, Traveling Riverside Blues, recorded in 1936. They eventually went as far as releasing a song by the same title!
- James, Birmingham, AL
"Squeeze my lemon, 'til the juice runs down my leg" is how I've heard it. Plant was sex personified!
- Chris, Hull, MA
This is the coolest bassline i've ever heard. John Paul Jones is definitly one of the most amazing bassists ever.
- Derek, Raleigh, NC
John Paul Jones had nothing prepared for this song when it came time to record. He improvised the whole thing in one take. He is rather amazing, isn't he?
- daniel, Kenner, LA
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