Tea For One

Songfacts®:

  • Lead singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics to this slow, reflective blues number about the loneliness he felt being constantly on the road. He found himself in a New York hotel drinking tea for one when he penned the words. One reason the band stayed out of England so often to tour and record: to avoid the taxes.
  • Led Zeppelin would scrap a song if they thought it sounded too similar to something they already recorded, but they made an exception for this one. According to Jimmy Page, "Tea For One" is similar in mood to the 1970 Zeppelin live favorite "Since I've Been Loving You." He explained in a 1977 Trouser Press interview: "The chordal structure is similar, a minor blues. We just wanted to get a really laid-back blues feeling without blowing out on it at all. We did two takes in the end, one with a guitar solo and one without. I ended up sitting there thinking, 'I've got this guitar solo to do,' because there have been blues guitar solos since Eric (Clapton) on Five Live Yardbirds and everyone's done a good one. I was really a bit frightened of it. I thought, "What's to be done?" I didn't want to blast out the solo like a locomotive or something, because it wasn't conductive to the vibe of the rest of the track. I was extremely aware that you had to do something different than just some B.B. King licks."
  • This song forms the last track on the band's seventh studio album, Presence. The cover art shows a family of four seated together at a table, apparently at a harbor-side restaurant.

    This entire album was recorded in just 18 days at Musicland Studios in Germany with Plant in a wheelchair the whole time from injuries sustained in a car accident.
  • "Tea For One" is a slow-blues song in C minor; another Zeppelin song of the same form is "Since I've Been Loving You."
  • A favorite of many Led Zeppelin diehards, this whole song never got played much at concerts; however, sometimes the introductory riff would be included as a lead-in to another song. It finally got its due when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant played it in full with an orchestra backing on their Japan concert tour in 1996.

Comments: 48

  • Kickflip from NycGod, this is MAGIC
  • Dean from SeattleI feel that the lyrics in this song are a fundamental break from Plant's previous works, and follow the rest of the album's lyrics in being in the form of a confessional, instead of the more typical relationship complaint found in most blues, and in nearly all of Robert's past lyrics about relationships. It also plays on the idea that the person being sung to is not actually present, and this is underlined in the title, which is very unusual generally in any lyrics to any song. I find the more subdued tone very much more compelling, and emotionally mature than SIBLY, which the song is often compared to, and the guitar work is stunning by any measure. The whole thing taken together captures the enormity of accepting the reality of facing the future alone after a failed relationship, and instead of copping out and laying blame, admits that it was the protagonist's own decisions that brought him there to that state. And more, the song title reminds us that he's talking to the air. It is literally a song about no one else being there to hear it.
  • Chicago Peter from ChicagoThis song has the best bluesy/jazzy guitar playing I think I’ve ever heard. Page is a genius.
  • Mike Stewart from Amite,la.Adore the entire album
  • Tony from San DiegoCan I meet Heather from Spain?
  • Yerlozer from Houston, Texas Intense and darkly atmospheric.... A powerful mood piece. This one moves awe!
  • Thomas from Roswell, NmI would say this is the second best track from Presence, after Achilles Last Stand.
  • Nate from New York, NyCharles from Allentwon, I agree 100%. Zep is my favorite band, and this is one of my favorite songs from them.
  • Nate from New York, NyThis is a total boss song. From the first guitar lick on, it's just power.
  • Sr.jardel from Guaiba/rs, BrazilFirst time I've heard this song I thought it was similar to SIBLY,but it was only for the first time.
    Now days I cant explain why I thought that,I think the songs are totally different one from another...
    I agree with @Dhani, Casselberry, and disagree with what @Matthew, Sarasota said.
  • Charles from Allentown, PaThis song is similar to SIBLY, but I think it is better. T41 is more polished in its production and more emotionally dependent on the multiple guitar parts (dozens of them)rather than the organ parts used in SIBLY. This song is all guitar !!! One thing that grabs you right away is the change in pace from the intro, its like being sucked into a time warp which I'm sure was the desired effect. Excellent song, my #2 from LZ.
  • David from Syracuse, NyAwesome, comes to mind...
    all of the emotion is evident...the passion, the dedication, all of Zep's stand out qualities are heard here, and I love this tune.
  • Michael from Silver Spring, MdVery powerful song, and for right now at least my favorite Zeppelin number. It captures the paradox of time with the lines "how come 24 hours seem to slip into days...a minute feels like a lifetime when I feel this way". And yes, I like it even more than SIBLY.
  • Lisa from Blountville , TnI love this song,Not as much as "Since I've loving you",great sad bluesy number.Presence was recorded in 18 days in Munich.This track really shows the crushing loneliness & depression of a life lived on the road.Presence was really a race agianist time.The Rolling Stones had the studio booked the same time,well Jimmy ran out of time he was already doing 18 hour days to finish the production.Jimmy called up Mick Jagger and asked for 2 more days to finish,Jagger said ok.
    It's a lovely sad song but,"since I've been loving you"just holds a special place in my soul.
  • Scott from Plano, TxOne reason why this song sounds so much like "Since I've Been Loving You" is because they are both C minor blues. Tea for One is in 3/4 though and has some changed chords at the end. Another thing that I noticed were the lyrics: "Oh baby this one's for we two". It reminds me of "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream.
  • Chad from Bath, PaRight now, this is probably my number 1 favorite Zeppelin song. But as any LZ fan knows, it changes like twice a week. Bonzo just pounds the drums. He was what made every Zeppelin song stand out. You can tell a Zeppelin song by the drums alone.
  • Heather from Madrid, SpainThe sexiest song Zeppelin ever made!! I freaking love this song!! No other song like it, there never will be! Amazing job done by all them! This is baby making music.
  • Melanie from Seattle, Wathis song is so awesome and powerful. I like it more than Since I've Been Loving You.
  • Alina from Karlstad, Swedeni love SIBLY, maybe that's why i love this song so much. the music alone portrays loneliness in a very emotional way.
  • Nickzepp from Oklahoma City, OkThe sound for this song was made while Page was playing SIBLY. That's why it has a similar sound to SIBLY.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThis song sounds shockingly similar to Since I've Been Loving You. Listen, they sound almost the same at several points.
  • Elyssa from Ny, NyGreat song to play loudly while alone. Very cathartic.
  • Alexx from Noblesville, Inthe opening riff of this song was sped up and used for part of the riff in "Walter's Walk" on the Coda album.
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksgreat blues breakdown i like the begining rift
  • Cassandra from Houston, TxI Love that song
  • Mike from Riverside, Camy God!! the solo by itself should be in the rock and roll hall of fame!!!
  • William from London, EnglandThis is one of the best and I too regret that it is very hard tpo get a live version.

    Hey James in Sann Francisco, can you tell us where you got that live performance and maybe even share this one track
  • Elie from The U.k, Englandi love this one and i understand how plant feels drinkin tea alone is no fun
  • Elie from London, Englandi love this song so full of emotions and it sounds nothing like since ive ben loving you
  • Ace from Houston, TxHey Phil just thought you might want to know that Page DID in fact write almost the entire Presence LP. it was the rest of the band that wrote most of the in through the out door LP. which page said was his and bonzo's least favorite it was mostley jones and plant responsible for this effort. Incedentally I just read an interview with Jimmy were he said that if the band had been around to record a 9th studio Lp (SRTS is a LIVE album) that he and bonham wanted to write a heavy rock album along the lines of I II an IV that would have been awsome. it was plant and jones that were takeing the band away from the heavy rock sound that Bonahm and Page loved.
  • Tenacious J from Auckland, New ZealandFirstly, Phil I suggest you check your history and ask yourself if you're even a fan: Carouselambra isn't even ON Presence, it's on In Through The Out Door, and it was during the recoding of this album that the band was divided on priorities.

    ANYWAY, Tea For One is my favourite Zep song, and it's GREAT to find there's other people on the planet that share my opinion!

    One question: Does anyone have the intro TABBED? I've got the chords, the sheet music (which I can't read incidentally), but the guitar tab would just make my century if anyone has it or knows where to find it.

    Here's hoping...
  • Dhani from Casselberry, FlOK, Led Zeppelin is my favorite band, I listen to them ALL THE TIME, and I really don't see how this sounds so much like "Since I've Been Loving You"... Of coarse it has a FEW of the same picking and such, but that's a given, it's a blues song...
  • Tom from East Lyme, Cti think that Led Zeppelin should have made a seperated song out of the beggining of this one, it could have been an awesome song!!
  • Collin from Midland, TxThat is the first thing I thought about this song also, Matthew. It just sounds like a slightly tweaked version of an already great song. You can't even tell Plant is in a wheelchair. I think Presence is a pretty underrated album.
  • Matthew from Sarasota, FlHands Down Zeppelin is my favorite band , but i listened to this right after since i been loving you this morning and i noticed its almost the same exact thing.
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaGret blusey song, awsome guitar solo, and i would love to hear them play this song back-to-back in concert with Since Ive been loving you, both with great solo's and very underrated!
  • Phil from LondonI'm a idiot...I was thinking about In Through the Out Door. Bryan, you're awesome, my apologies.
  • Phil from LondonI strongly disagree with Bryan, that is rubbish. During the recording of Presence, Plant and JPJ were the only ones in the studio; Bonzo and Page were always out drinking. I suggest you listen to Carouselambra, which explains how Plant was feeling betrayed by the other two members. Also, Jimmy Page's heroin addiction was serious around this time (1976), and the band was at it's lowest point, morally. So, Plant always had something to write about regarding the lonliness and separation of the members. Jimmy Page did not have much to do with Presence.
  • Nick from Solvang, CaWhen I first heard this song it surpirised me when everything slowed down in the beggining! It's so sudden.
  • Nick from Baton Rouge, Laits a great song, if you want time to slow down, last summer id get off work at midnight, and id have to be back to work at 7, that morning... this was the song that kept me sane.... GREAT!
  • Chad from Reading, PaMany people like "Since I've Been Loving You" more than they like this song. I beleive "Tea for One" is much better. Robert doesn't beleive this is one of his best vocals on the Presence but it clearly is. He puts so much emotion into the song. Page's guitar work is outstanding, better then anything on the rest of the album and some of his best ever. This song is way underrated.
  • Jordyn from West Richland, WaPage is really amazing on this track. Plants vocals are extremely moving and powerful without having to be excissively forceful, they are just so imposing. he never has to really scream, but the inflection in his voice tells it all, all that pain and lonliness, its all there.
  • Kaleo from Los Angeles, CaThe intro to Tea for One kinda sounds like the turnaround guitar fill following the 'You don't have to goooo' vocal part and temporary rythm change in "D'yer Mak'er". But I could be wrong. Anyone else have similar suspiscions?
  • Bryan from Brunswick, GaPresence is by far the most under rated Zep LP. It's mood and direction are very indicative by the very agitated passages of guitar work laid down by Page. This is really his album. As i recall reading any interview with him, he stated that everyone was basically not wanting to work on it due to the tragedies around them so he immersed himself in it. I also recall he said there is very little keyboard work on it and almos all guitar. He wrote almost everything on it including not all but most of the lyrical ideas, which he hadn't done in quite some time. tea for One is one of the best examples of Zepps blues roots, my second fave Zepp blues track..Since i've been loving being my fave and the very best. The solo work on Tea for One is incredibly pointed,precise,sonic and perfect for its mood and fits perfectly on this very under rated Lp.
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaMany people have pointed out the musical similarities between this song and "Since I've Been Loving You". Page admitted that this was the only time Zeppelin repeated themselves.
  • Jango from Chennai, IndiaGreat song....very imposing...one of a kind
  • James from San Francisco, CaThis is my favorite Zeppelin song of all time, it's a shame it was never played live by all four members (Page and Plant played it live, I have a recording of it). It's incredible to think that Plant recorded it from a wheelchair--his vocals are so powerful, which is rare for anything after 1975.
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeReflected the dark mood felt by everyone during the recording of Presence. Plant's lyrics are menacing, but poignant. Page's guitar work on this song is his best since the Houses of the Holy album.
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