Communication Breakdown

Album: Led Zeppelin (1969)


  • The guitar riff was inspired by Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown." Jimmy Page used a small, miked amplifier to create the "guitar in a shoebox" sound. Explaining his technique to Guitar Player magazine in 1977, Page said: "I put it in a small room, a tiny vocal booth-type thing and miked it from a distance. You see, there's a very old recording maxim which goes, 'Distance makes depth.' I've used that a hell of a lot on recording techniques with the band generally, not just me. You're always used to them close-miking amps, just putting the microphone in front, but I'd have a mic right out the back, as well, and then balance the two, to get rid of all the phasing problems; because really, you shouldn't have to use an EQ in the studio if the instruments sound right. It should all be done with the microphones. But see, everyone has gotten so carried away with EQ pots that they have forgotten the whole science of microphone placement. There aren't too many guys who know it. I'm sure Les Paul knows a lot; obviously, he must have been well into that, as were all those who produced the early rock records where there were one or two mics in the studio."
  • This song became an anthem for frustrated youth. It was a popular live song that Led Zeppelin usually used to either open shows or play in an encore.
  • Page developed the riff during the band's first tour in Scandinavia, when they were still playing as The New Yardbirds. It was one of the first songs Jimmy Page and Robert Plant worked on together. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Page said the pounding guitar riff is difficult to play because of the constant, quick downstroke with the pick.
  • Running 2:30 in its studio version, this is one of the more compact Led Zeppelin songs. When they played live, the band would often stretch out the instrumental sections of songs (notably "Dazed And Confused"), but "Communication Breakdown" stayed tight, typically taking up a mere three minutes in the set.
  • This was one of the few times Page sang a backing vocal for Led Zeppelin.
  • In the US, this was released as a single but it did not chart.
  • Iron Maiden covered this on their Eddie's Archive box set.
  • The 1997 album The BBC Sessions contains three different live takes of this track. The album is made up of sessions Led Zeppelin recorded for British radio in their early years. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 38

  • Mike from Nampa, IdI love that Jimmy did the backing vocal on this instead of Robert, (even tho Robert is incredible). It fits this song better & adds a sinister vibe to it.
  • Mike from Nampa, IdMichael from Oxford, I would love to hear you sing. I'm looking for someone w/Robert's vocal range to sing lead for a band that I will eventually put together of original compositions. r u in the U.S. or U.K.?
  • Pjyenn from Indonesia, Indonesiait's good to hear Page's voice in the end as backing vocal. Thanks for the info!
  • Thomas from Roswell, NmMy favorite track from Zeppelin's first album.
  • Thomas from Roswell, NmThis track kicks major ass. One of my favorites from Zeppelin.
  • Nate from New York, NyThis is the best song to have a guitar duel with. My friend did The Song Remains the Same and I did this and it was actually hilarious because it sounded awesome.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, Az@Jason Bonzo used a single bass with a dual foot pedal, not a double bass kit.

    @douglas what are you talking about? EVERY surf rock instrumental until the Beach Boys sounded the same, be it Dick Dale, the Ventures or The Shadows. You might as well have said the riff was stolen from "Misirlou." Plus, Jimmy and Robert were into American blues in the 1960s, and the British artists that were adapting it. I doubt they put much credence into surf rock, which they viewed as rather pedestrian, pop rock that wasn't even as good as British pop rock.
  • Douglas from Nowra, Australiathis songs major riff..was stolen off the starting riff of Wooly Bully
  • John from Mesa, AzI sang kareoke with and was very impressed by Plant's vocal range. The 7th chords in the chorus acsending and Plant confesses, "It drives me insane!" I usually like other "Communication" song like TOOL and The Communication Barrier.
  • Gerwin from Amsterdam, NetherlandsJohnny Ramone of the Ramones was inspired by Communication Breakdown, resulting in fast down strumming Punk Rock
  • Luke from Saint Augustine, Flgood song, not led zeppelins best though
  • Jason from Denver, CoThe video for this song features John "BONZO" Bonham playing a double bass drum set. Something rare for him.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiOne of those 3 BBC Sessions versions of this (the first one) goes, "Just a little bit, Squeeze my lemon, just a little bit, squeeze my lemon." Did Zeppelin really love the Squeeze My Lemon line or what?
  • Hendrixlover from Does It Matter?, Cathey played something very close to this on the simpsons in the episode where the army recruiters are showing a film about "the army". the only difference is that they took one note away before the chords.
  • Michael from OxfordRecently when I got an e-mail I was frightened of (three guesses why) I had to vent my feelings somehow so I started singing the chorus of this. Seems like I've been blessed with the widest vocal range for miles around: the high F# in this song happily coincides with the top end, and I've got about three octaves down from there. Everyone else seems to marvel at the opening of "Immigrant Song" but I find that high C# easy. And I thought I didn't have any vocal talents?! Maybe I should set up a band, we could show the world the true meaning of the words "good song".
  • Spencer from Mcbride, Canadaelain, it does remind me of punk because of jimmy riff where he palm mutes then pounds a couple catchy chords with the lyrics
  • Jonathon from Clermont, FlThis is a catchy one. This one time we were working on something at my work, and someone said "communication breakdown" and I started singing it in a cracky, over-pitched Plant voice and we all cracked up.
  • Elaine from Spokane, WaThis song has so much energy, it's great! Page is a guitar god because of songs like this. The first time I heard the beginning riff, it sounded like a punk song. I was surprised when I heard Plant's voice and realized it was Led Zeppelin. Does that riff remind anyone else of punk music?
  • Ray from Stockton, Njthis song has a great opening guitar riff. This song is probably Zeppelin's best pre-stairway song. The guitars and drum sound awesome together throughout the whole song. I'm really surprised that it never charted.
  • Griffin from New York, NyAn Incredible song!!!
  • Mischa from WinnipegThis is zep's best ear;y song along with dazed and confused
  • Kevin from Erie, PaThis is a kick-butt hard rock song, that every one likes from Led Zeppelin. It's one of my favorite songs!!!!
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaBob in Levitttown.....move on....don't wast your time. Its like a cancer...the longer you let it go, the harder it is to get rid of, and the more it will hurt you.
  • Noah from Mt. Eden, KyIron Maiden didnt cover it for Eddies Archives. It was the b-side for the Bring your daughter to the slaughter sngle. On Eddies Archives one of the cds was all of the Iron Maiden b-sides.
  • Kika from Nyc, Nythis is a great hard rock song, i think it's meaning is pretty self-explanitory, and makes a great opener because of all the energy, gotta love zeppelin's energy
  • Josh from Rogersville, AlWow Page's solo in this song is sould get more credit than it gets
  • Carter from Smithfield, Ncrockin riff - does Plant scream "aw suck" in it?
  • Sam from Boise, IdIn the video for this song, John Bonham has two bass drums. He normally has only one.
  • Rob from St Davids, Walescool great song probibly the best
    - michdacool
  • David Assels from Milton, CanadaAwesome song, takes us all back to the simple yet awesome riffs of the 60's and 70's. playing that fast with all downstrokes is seriously hard, and you know cause even the great page said he had difficulty with it
  • Angela from Auckland, New Zealand*wow* zep continues to amaze me.all their songs r classics
  • Cassie from Detroit, Mire-thinking that... its more like guy wants girl, and girl isn't sure if she wants guy but she's toying with the idea. neither of them are on the same page at the right time (communication breakdown), but the guy wants the girl regardless. Its because the guy isn't sure of her feelings that he is having a hard time telling the girl how he feels.
  • Cassie from Detroit, MiCommunication Breakdown is about a man's inability to tell his love interest how he feels. "i've got something i think you wanna know" "i wanna tell you that i love you so". he doesn't know how to say it, and its driving him crazy. or more apropriately... insane.
  • Will from Portland, Orgood song, whats it about?
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeHands down, one of Zeppelin's greatest hard rock tracks. The riff and guitar solo are electrifying!
  • Kelly from Los Angeles, Caplant's voice is amazing. this is an awesome song.
  • Bob from Levittown, PaWithout a doubt, this song is amazing. Same with Going to California- we've all been here. In fact, I'm in a situation like this currently. I like a girl, she likes me, but she won't date me. However, she keeps talking with me, and playing with my emotions. Best song to use as an anthem.
  • Angie from Rockville, Mdhaaa. i wish someone would say that. hahaha great song. get's it all out.
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