This track is based on an acoustic song with the same title that Jimmy Page heard folk singer Jake Holmes perform. When Page was a member of The Yardbirds, they played on the same bill with Holmes at the Village Theatre in New York City. Holmes' version is about an acid trip, but contains many of the same elements that made their way into the Led Zeppelin version: walking bass line, paranoid lyrics and an overall spooky sound. In the documentary Lost Rockers
, Holmes said: "We were on the bill with The Yardbirds. We performed it there and blew the place apart with that song, and that's when Jimmy Page saw it. From what I gather from The Yardbirds, Page sent somebody out to get my album. He did a great job, but he certainly ripped me off."
The Yardbirds played the song in concert, but never recorded a studio version, although they did play it for a BBC taping in March 1968.
Led Zeppelin's version was not credited to Jake Holmes, as Page felt that he changed enough of the melody and added enough new lyrics to escape a plagiarism lawsuit. While Holmes took no action at the time, he did later contact Page regarding the matter. Holmes finally filed a lawsuit in 2010, alleging copyright infringement and naming the Led Zep guitarist as a co-defendant. It was the favorable judgment for organist Matthew Fisher in the "A Whiter Shade Of Pale
" case that convinced Holmes to sue, as precedent was set that songwriting credits could be challenged in British courts many years after the fact. Holmes settled with Page and the case was dismissed on January 17, 2012. The songwriting credit was changed to the rather cryptic "Jimmy Page, Inspired By Jake Holmes."