Black Mountain Side

Album: Led Zeppelin (1969)
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  • This is a 2 minute instrumental written by Jimmy Page, which was based on a traditional folk song called "Blackwater Side." The most popular version of "Blackwater Side" was recorded by Bert Jansch, but a British folk singer named Anne Briggs also did a version. She was a big influence on Led Zeppelin and on many British singers, but she stopped recording when she was 27 and never became famous. Briggs is sometimes incorrectly credited as the author of another song on the Led Zeppelin album, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," but that was written by an American folk singer named Anne Bredon.
  • Jimmy Page explained to Guitar Player magazine in 1977: "I wasn't totally original on that. It had been done in the folk clubs a lot; Annie Briggs was the first one that I heard do that riff. I was playing it as well, and then there was Bert Jansch's version. He's the one who crystallized all the acoustic playing, as far as I'm concerned. Those first few albums of his were absolutely brilliant."
  • Led Zeppelin often combined "Black Mountain Side" with a song called "White Summer" when they played it live - Page would sit on a stool and play it as a quiet interlude. The combined song was known as "White Summer-Black Mountainside" and ran about 11 minutes.
  • Jimmy Page played versions of this song when he was with The Firm, the group he founded with Paul Rogers.
  • On the album, this starts over the end of the previous track, "Your Time Is Gonna Come."
  • In the middle of the studio version of this song, Page overdubbed a rapid guitar lick that is meant to simulate a sitar. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adrian - Wilmington, DE
  • "Black Mountain Side/White Summer" is an instrumental track that appears on Coda, an album released after drummer John Bonham's death which contained outtakes. The White Summer version is around 8 minutes and "Black Mountain Side" is heard somewhere in the middle. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Liam - Campbell River, Canada
  • The Eastern sound on this song was the influence of Jimmy Page's travel to India when he was a member of The Yardbirds; he came back fascinated by the music of that country. He used a Danelectro guitar for this track, and explained to Guitar Player: "I used a special tuning for that; the low string down to B, then A, D, G, A, and D. It's like a modal tuning, a sitar tuning, in fact."

Comments: 53

  • Eddie B. from South Florida Al Stewart taught it to Page, who was a session musician for Stewart's debut album. Page played the instrumental on a borrowed Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar which was tuned to D–A–D–G–A–D, a tuning that he had used for "White Summer". To enhance the Indian character of the song, drummer and sitarist Viram Jasani played tabla on the track.
  • Phutatorius from DevonThere's a lot of confusion in the comments.

    First, Page's performance is a nearly note-for-note copy of Bert Jansch's guitar arrangement of Black Waterside. Jansch arranged a traditional melody, which was once recorded by Isla Cameron, but she didn't write it, and there was no guitar part on her recording. So Page's claim that the sound of the arrangement is somehow based on his travels in India is simply untrue: he copied Jansch as exactly as he could.

    And Anne Briggs didn't teach the guitar part to Jansch: she taught him the melody and the words. Jansch produced Briggs's recording of that song, and played guitar on it. Briggs wasn't a guitarist of any great competence.

    Also, Jansch didn't "steal" his style or technique from Davey Graham. For one thing, Jansch was a far more able guitarist. Graham had some innovative ideas, but it's not plagiarism to pick up a technique, and style is entirely subjective. And Black Waterside sounds nothing like She Moved Through the Fair. It's a completely different tune (which Page also appropriated and renamed "White Summer," performing it very much as Graham did).

    It's not a tribute if you almost exactly replicate the performance of a specific arrangement and don't give credit. It's just slimy. My take is that Page is technically good, but is a bit deficient in imagination. There's also the matter of pocketing the royalty payments.

    And it's not at all clear to me why so many people want to make excuses for Page's habit of passing off other people's work as his own.
  • Paul Dragon from Mpls,mn
  • Brad K from Huntley, IlI saw a few false posts, so I wanted to get some things straight:

    Isla Cameron was not a guitarist. There is no guitar present on the track where she sings "Blackwaterside". Jansch composed the guitar arrangement and was the ORIGINAL guitarist. The singing/lyrics are redundant, since we're talking about the guitar piece. And Anne Briggs did not teach the guitar part to him. As I remember from an interview, she actually asked him to come up with a 'non-chord' version of the song. Meaning, she wanted something more instrumentally complex (beyond simple chords). The song was not stolen, as it was a tribute. Tributes are common practice among musicians of all experience levels. They left the name and lyrics the same. Also, someone said Jansch stole the guitar part from a Davy Graham song. Well, there is an interview on YouTube of Davy Graham praising Blackwaterside as one of his favorite songs, and a breakthrough in folk music. So it seems Davy Graham doesn't think that Jansch stole it from him.

    Also, Jimmy Page never "stole" the song, either. It's called a "cover". The guitar is, for the most part, a note-for-note cover of the Jansch arrangement. This is a TRIBUTE. Hence why he named it "Black Mountain Side". He could have named it anything, but he named it after the original song... meaning it's a TRIBUTE. Jansch did not lose anything by this tribute. You think he deserves money? How much money do you think Jimmy Page made by putting that song on the album? They never released a single. Bert Jansch never "lost" anything. Also, Jimmy Page did NOT take credit. Jansch's song is a part of documented history and he will always have credit for his original composition. If anyone does two minutes of research on the song, they will quickly discover the original artist. Therefore, Page does NOT have credit for the song. So did Jansch really lose anything? Not really... in fact, Jimmy Page made him even more famous. Some people will read this and hear of Bert Jansch for the first time, all thanks to Jimmy Page. It's because of Jimmy Page and his tribute songs that I know about all of the old blues/folk/rock musicians.

    Led Zeppelin never believed in publicity. They left their fourth album untitled and almost completely wordless to spite the media/journalists/critics. They were all about the music, fans, and live work. Giving "credit" on an album sleeve is not something they cared to do. And for the above reasons, they did not hurt anyone, nor did they get credit where it wasn't due.
  • Christian from Berlin, GermanyAgree on the earlier Bert Jansch statement. His arrangement of 'Blackwaterside', is lifted from the Isla Cameron version. The melody is identical to her song. Cameron should have sued Jansch.
  • Rj from New York, NyChris,

    The point isn't really about technique and style, but about ownership in part, and intellectual honesty regarding what one is creating. True, musicians each glom from one another and are all magpies to some degree; complete originality is a myth, but what generally makes Page more of a thieving magpie is that he takes credit for writing songs that simply aren't his, such as Black Mountain Side, and that's the rub.

    We find this with many so-called Zeppelin songs . . . In looking at the *original pressings* of the records, you'll find no credit given to the writers of whatever individual song and hence, no royalty payments are being made to them. It was only later, after the mighty LZ were sued by numerous blues and folk musicians, that on subsequent pressings of the records that credits were added, essentially by force. Page is an inventive guitarist, without question, but he wasn't too honest and many songs he claims to have written he did not in fact write, only augment. If he loved the blues and folk music so much, he should have freely and willingly credited those musicians from the start, as did the Stones.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzDuring the 1977 tour (and sometime subsequent) White Summer/Black Mountain Side was a sort of into into Kashmir. Jimmy used the same Danelectro on all those songs, and I believe the same tunings as well. DADGAD.
  • P from Lakewood, OhBert Jansch's guitar arrangement was nicked from Isla Cameron's 1959 melodic arrangement of the traditional song "Down by Blackwaterside".
  • Kevin from Newark, OhJimmy has been tinkering with this song ever since his Yardbird days. I love combination of White Summer/Black Mountain Side. Jimmy is one of THE best guitarist ever, besides Clapton. People say Jimmy stole some riffs here & there. Well the way I look it. If one guitarist likes what he hears in a song, he will take a little from one song & a little from another & work it to where it sounds good. It has been done for years & will continue so get over it.
  • Chris from Austin, TxTo: Eric, London, England

    You are a bit off. Jansch may in fact be a genius, but he stole his style and technique from Davey Graham, just like a lot of British guitarists. There's no doubt that his song "Black Waterside" resembles Graham's "She Moved Through the Fair." So, you might want to think about who is the magpie in this.

    In reality, Page noticed that both of the songs were similar, due to the fact that Jansch learned and swiped some ideas from Graham, and that is why he ended up playing them as one set piece live.

    And, while Page did do some stealing, either knowingly or subconsciously, there's still no doubt that he wrote some of the best guitar music ever. So, it's not as black and white as you would seem to imagine it to be.
  • David from Los Angeles , CaThe version at the Royal Albert Hall (full version) is way more than 10 minutes and is amazing.
  • Max from Montreal, QcI think its a good thing that they do their research and redo folk tunes. Its not a rip off in anyway..
  • Rachita from Delhi, Indiapure genius
    the tabla makes it sound so awesome!!
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThis was played live from 1969-1970, and again in 1977, 1979, and 1980, all with White Summer.
  • John from Dundee, United KingdomPS.
    Bert Jansch sings as well on the track
    "One morning fair,I took the air
    down by blackwater side" et al
  • John from Dundee, United KingdomChad,
    "She Moved Through the Fair" is a traditional Irish song, not by Davey Graham exclusively.Bert Jansch's "Blackwater Side" is the source of Led Zepps "Black Mountain Side". BJ's tune is also traditional taught to him by Anne Briggs and I'm pretty sure he only drops the bottom E to D, well at least that's the way I've always played it regarding the notes from the back of the original Bert Jansch album. Saw Jimmy Page playing this on "The Julie Felix Show" around 1969 starting by D-tuning his guitar. Fantastic stuff and I wish I could have a copy of it.
  • Jambi from T-town, Mithis song makes you feel so good while you play reminds me of some old southern man playing songs from his heart on the 50 year old guitar his grampa gave him.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThis song is not just an instrumental. A 2:12 minute version features one line at the beginning, "Your time is gonna come," overlapped from Your Time Is Gonna Come.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI love Zep. Always will, but there really is something sinister about the way they appropriated certain music. Whole Lotta Love was not a stage creation. It was a direct rip off of the Small Faces who in turn ripped off Dixon.
  • Craig from Springfield, OrSorry, for those of you who don't know I was talking about Whole Lotta Love for the Willie Dixon lol
    I know he didn't write this!
  • Craig from Springfield, OrI know people have already said this but please.
    There are a few cases when I think Zeppelin was wrong.
    But one... whether they should have given credit or not..
    there was still so much of 'them' in it that it's still
    and Two... like Amy said, everyone did it. No one cares if
    anyone else does it just Zeppelin. People are so into pride
    now adays it's annoying. (And lot of it is from rock music...)
    The point of the folk circles was to play other people's songs
    to play and spread MUSIC, not to become famous and to
    be credited with crap. The only person who really cared was
    Willie Dixon which was kind of dumb because no one even cares
    about the lyrics to the song. When they were jammin' this live
    and Page came up with the riff, Plant just sang what came to
    his head which was Willie Dixon. But people only care about
    the riff, the mid section, Plant belting, and the solo. People
    just get greedy.

    And by playing other's songs it's shows they aren't selfish, they
    listen and admire other's works, and it compliments other people on their pieces. Now some they should have given credit to (like they have now) but there is no need to give credit some songs. (Say... When the Levee Breaks)

    In any case, if Zeppelin wouldn't have been 'Magpies' then I would not listen to about 97% of the music I listen to today because they were influenced and/or covered their music.
  • Bryan from Super Zero, ScI think it is very safe to say that this is Led Zeppelin's shortest song. It stands at about 2:14 in length. Ah, instrumentals...I like them because the music will help you imagine a story to go along with it, without lyrics to tell that story.
  • Ed from York, PaI like this one, it's better than Bron-Yr-Aur
  • Page from London, CanadaWow. I love how this song faids from Your Time Is Gonna Come and goes right into the instrumentals. Guitar, Bass and Drums all came out well balanced so no instrument ended up over powering the others. Wouldve been a better song if it lasted more than 2 minutes. Oh, well what can ye do?
  • Garry from London, EnglandPhil - Anne Bredon is Annie Briggs, it was her stage name
  • Mike from Riverside, Cathis and white summer can make me weep. not even stairway to heaven can make me do that. those 2 (they're one in the same to me) are stunningly beautiful acoustic pieces. some of the best pieces of recorded music ever. God bless Jimmy Page.
  • Dan from Special TowneOh and by the way, it's in DADGAD but tuned a half step lower, so its DbAbDbGbAbDb
  • Phil from Oxford, England"Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" wasn't written by Annie Briggs, but by the American singer/songwriter Anne Bredon, who is now enjoying a comfortable retirement thanks to her belated credit for this song.
  • Tin Ear from Fullerton, CaAnother song that was written by Bert Jansch and ripped off by Jimmy without crediting was "braun r stomp" or whatever, which was originally "the wagonners lad".
  • Charlie from Goldsboro, Ncyo "white summer" is actually a song by Pageys old group the Yardbirds, and he just mixes it in with black mountainside in live performances
  • Amy from Silver Spring, MdOh, Eric. Now, now. EVERYONE played these tunes in the late '60s and early '70's...Pentangle, Fairport, Linda and Richard Thompson, Davey Graham, Steeleye....I can't even count how many times I've heard versions of Blackwaterside. I don't think Page nicked it. However, if you want to talk about How Many More Times and You Shook Me, well...that's another story.
  • David from Monrovia, CaXavier, I agree about John Bonham being missed. Here is a link to some of his work:

    As far a page ripping this song off from other artists...please. Your posts reek of jealously and ingnorance. EVERY musician has roots, all music is a celebration of those who have gone before. So just shutup.
  • Xavier from Pune, Indiai cant believe that none of u have spoken about the tabla in this song! its awesome.. I'm from India, and the tabla is an indian classical percussion instrument... I'm sure if Bonzo would have lived for a few more years, he would have mastered the Tabla too! RIP Bonzo!! We all miss u!!
  • Dave from Vancouver, CanadaI can play this song. It is tuned down to an open major chord, D# I think.

    I'm glad that Page ripped it off, then I won't have to accredit it to him. I'll just say it's an old take from an old folk song.
  • Eric from London, EnglandWhite Summer is an almost note for note thieving rip off of Davey Graham's DADGAD classic 'She Moved Through the Fair' (DADGAD is not 'celtic' tuning but is Davey Graham's own tuning developed to play with North African Oud players)
    Black Mountainside is not a tweaked White Summer - it is an almost note for note thieving rip off of Black Waterside by Bert Jansch - its in DADGAD but Bert plays it in dropped D (big deal of a change).

    Bert used to live with Anne Briggs and she taught him the song and the melody but not the guitar piece - that is Bert's alone (Anne Briggs just plays an arpegiated D chord)

    So to say that Page is the best acoustic player for these tunes is like saying a kid who plays Steve Vai in a guitar shop is the best - anyone can be derivative and play covers, apparently only Pagey can stick his name on the tune and not get sued (but when you rip off folk geniuses who don't make much money you don't really expect to be sued.)

    In short Jansch = genius - Page = magpie
  • Kurdt from Concord, NhDadgad is a celtic tunig, actually
  • John from Glasgow, Scotlandactually kyle, it is an acoustic. its tuned to DADGAD, which is quite a folk/exotic sounding tuning
  • Kyle from Bolingbrook, IlThis song is amazing. however, nick, who posted earlier. This song is defianately done with an electric guitar, and the tuning is not an alternative tuning, or at least its not supposed to be. The tuning is supposed to resemble that of a sitar.
  • Tom from East Lyme, CtWhite summer/Black Mountain side isnt on Coda! Its one of those extra songs on the complete sound recordings or something like that, it's not on Coda
  • Olivia from Perth, Australiathis is an awesome song, and one of my favourite of theirs. jimmy is the best guitarist ever!
  • Danny from Vancouver, United StatesI heard a really cool version of this where 9 or so minutes into the song and hes in the middle of the black mountain side riff all the sudden he bursts into the kashmir riff, and all the sudden theyre playing kashmir. its so cool. but kindof weird cuz kashmir and white summer are in different tunings as far as the way i play them, but im sure the master page found a way to play kashmir it DADGAD tuning, anyways this song rules and zep rules - danny
  • Karl from New York City Baby, NyCrazy son.. I can just imagine Page building up to a great song with this
  • Nafpez from Wales - Uk, WalesThe first time i heard this was on the Albert Hall dvd, i was completely blown away at Page's ability, it baffles me how someone can do that with a guitar. Jimmy Page is the reason i started to learn guitar (well. make general noise, nothing atall special), and i can't comprehend how the hell he plays as well as he does, anyway enough of that, the song is awesome, near enough 12 minutes of pure Page genius. The man is a god and goes down in history as possibly the best guitarist in music history.
  • David from Portsmouth, NcSteve Tibbets does a great version of Black Mountain Side on his cd Big Map Idea.
  • Dave from Winnipeg, CanadaCould someone please tell me if they can find guitar tabs for the extended one at royal albert hall adrian was talking about.. that would be awesome.
  • Yehia from Cairo, EgyptThere's about 10 seconds on 'White Summer' which is a total rip-off from an Egyptian folklore tune (played on Semsemia). You can hear it right when Bonzo stops his first bit (around 2:12 to 2:23). All folklore songs from a town called Ismailia in Egypt are based around this very riff.
    Cool live track, though. Quite long but always entertaining.
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeYeah, the version on the Zeppelin DVD from the 1970 Royal Albert Hall Concert is just AMAZING. It's 12 minutes of raw and skilled Jimmy Page and nothing else. Simply beautiful.
  • Chad from Colorado Springs, CoTalking about the whole White Summer/Black Mountain Side thing...

    "White Summer" was originally an instrumental that Jimmy Page did when he was with the Yardbirds from the album, Little Games. Later Jimmy was blamed for stealing the song because it very closely resembles the song "She Moved Thro' the Fair" by Davey Graham. Later, Jimmy tried to "make the song his own," so to speak, with Led Zeppelin by tweeking it to the song called "Black Mountain Side" from Led Zeppelin I. Just thought I would let you guys know.

    As a side note, the opening acoustic part for "Over the Hills and Far Away" is an adaptation from Mr. Page's "White Summer."

    Good day.
  • Anders from Cph, Denmarkyou can find a version of white summer on the Led Zeppelin DVD
  • Nick from Shelton, CtThere is an extended version called White Summer-Black Mountainside, Its the deffinitely one of the most amazing acoustic guitar songs ever recorded. Its extremely long and jimmie page uses an alternative tuning on his guitar
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DePage would play this at concerts, but that was called "White Summer." It was probably a much more extended version of what Black Mountain Side is on the album. Either that or they were two separate instrumentals, but Page stuck a minute of BMS in the middle of "White Summer" so the crowd would recognize it. Either way, both tunes ultimately showcase Page's guitar wizadry and his diverse musical tastes. Having grown up on the Beatles, I loved hearing this track for the firs time with its Indian influence.
  • Jeff from Bakersfield, CaThe version I have is 8 minutes
  • Brianna from Layton, WvThis song rocks i love it and it think it sound way kool

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