The Wanton Song

Album: Physical Graffiti (1975)
  • The band developed this song during soundchecks on their 1973 United States tour. Jimmy Page worked up the riff in his Plumpton Place manor house and brought it to the band during the Physical Graffiti sessions. The song went through a number of changes as they worked it up, becoming one of the funkier Zeppelin songs by the time they were done. The credited writers on the track are Page and Robert Plant.
  • Like "The Lemon Song," this song is dripping with desire, and does not mention the title in the lyrics. "Wanton" can mean willful and deliberate, but also sexually indiscriminate and lacking inhibition, which is probably what Robert Plant had in mind when he wrote the lyric. The "silent woman" he sings about could be a metaphor or a real person; mystery is a hallmark of his songwriting.
  • Jimmy Page used his "backward echo" on the guitar solo, where the echo is heard before the note.
  • This is one of Robert Plant's favorites. In 1983, John Hutchinson of Record magazine asked him what he considered the highlights of his time with Zeppelin. The first song that popped into Plant's mind wasn't "Stairway to Heaven" or "Whole Lotta Love" - it was "The Wanton Song."

    "I remember recording it, the whole session," Plant said. "It was so electric, so quick and so fruitful. 'Trampled Underfoot' was another one. The more impromptu numbers are the ones that really come to mind, rather than the time-consuming things that were worked out and constructed."
  • Led Zeppelin played this live on some of their 1975 American and European dates, but it was soon dropped.
  • In the February 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine, Jimmy Page was told that Led Zeppelin's biggest hits - "Stairway To Heaven," "Kashmir," "Over The Hills And Far Away" - don't have choruses. Page replied: "As far as I'm concerned, the riff in Led Zeppelin's 'The Wanton Song,' for example, is the chorus. It could go on for a half an hour and I would be completely riveted and satisfied. It's so powerful and concise that it never gets boring." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 31

  • Cw from Platteville, WiIf you would listen to "Take Me Home", if anybody has "rare" Physical Graffiti LP like I do, or you can type it on here or go to grooveshark or youtube and type it in and listen to it, you can hear at LEAST up to FIVE Led Zeppelin songs in that song. There could be one or two more in there. No wonder why its not on the original "Physical Graffiti" set. They modified it and it later became "The Wanton Song". I know which of the FIVE songs that sound like that are in that song. You just have to listen for yourselves.
  • Thomas from Roswell, NmOne of the heaviest riffs that exists and another great riff from Page.
  • Scott from Charlotte, NcUm, Jimmy Page didn't use backwards echo on THIS song. But for those of you mocking the notion that he ever used backwards echo, pull up a chair boys and girls, class is now in session: http://www.led-zeppelin.org/joomla/assorted-info/69

    Google it, and learn, kiddies!
  • Steve from Hockessin, DeThere is no backwards echo on this song, nor is that a tremlo effect as well. That swirling sound you're hearing in the solos is produced by using a Leslie speaker. What that is, is a speaker inside the cabinet that actually rotates around giving it an organ sound. The Leslie speaker was/is used by organ players to get that sound. Jimmy used it on Down By The Seaside as well.
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainDrummer Frankie Banali has a solo album out that only contains Led Zeppelin songs. It is a tribute to Bonham. There is an absolutely amazing version of "The Wanton Song" sung by the great Alex Ligertwood (Santana, Brian Auger, AWB, David Garfield). This song only is worth buying the album. Check www.frankiebanali.com
  • David from Los Angeles , CaThis amazing JPJ onthat organ(or whatever it is)sounds freaking cool
  • Tara from Petoskey, MiAlso, am I the only one who think that the intro just slightly reminds them of "Dancing Days"??
  • Tara from Petoskey, MiI think that almost all of Led Zeppelin songs are sexual in a way. Not necessarly with the lyrics but, as a muscian, playing and listening to music can be a sexual and sensual experience. Hopefully, I'm not the only one out there who believes this! :-)
  • Jared from Sunshine Coast,Just to say this is one of the best led zep songs ever, also the horn thin is just a sudden increase in volume used on the guitar (by the way I don't even think it sounds like a horn) and another thing this backwards guitar thing is crap, its a few over dubbed guitar that could have a number of effect on them, probably a chours, phaser delay or a tremolo im not sure with are. And the backwards echo who ever described it as the echo is heard before the note is an idiot cause lodgicly the echo is a repeat of the note lets think about that
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnReilly of Rosa----haven't heard the voices yet..i'll have to take a closer listen.
    On a different note-----i defy anyone to name a bad Led Zeppelin song!....i really don't think it can be done.
    and yes, God rest your soul, John Bonham.
  • Reilly from Rosa , CaThis song is sooo hard to replicate on the drums. I think there are very slight ghost notes on the snare. Of course the kick pattern is near impossible to decifer by ear as well. Does anyone else notice voices in the backround of this song, say at like 3:14- 3:20?
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiAwesome hard rocker. But this song and Trampled Underfoot are incredibly similar (both are about the same thing, both are loaded with sexual metaphors, both feature organs, both are hard rock songs, etc.)
  • Justin from Georgetown, Ini love playing this for someone new to zeppelin. it blows their mind
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksvery underated it is a strong song
  • Jt from Tullahoma, TnThis was the one song that made me wanna go buy this album. I'm proud to say this and Led Zeppelin are my favorite albums by the band.
  • Zach from Seattle, WaThe bridge part of this song where Page plays all those weird double-tracked chords is awesome.
  • Tyler from Goffstown, NhOn "How the West Was Won" Plant pronounces it "The want on song" as in 2 seperate words.
  • Sean from Exeter, NhThe song is about a succubus (sp?), a female demon who takes a man's "seed" through sexual intercourse.
    Direct opposite of the incubus, who is a male demon up to the same nasty deed.

  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI meant not identical or anything. But the songs sound similar, and they're about the same thing pretty much. I think it's just a coincidence.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI don't know if anyone agrees with me on this, but I always thought that this song and "Trampled Underfoot" sounded very similar. Not alike but similar.
  • Cal from Windsor, VaAccually its not backwards guitar its a little effect on an amp called "Chorus"
  • Swansong200 from Calhoun, GaI'm 95% for sure on this, the real second line to this song reads "Took the seed from my shakin' frame."-makes more sense considering this song's sexual content-one of my favs from my favorite album.
  • Sam from Boise, IdThe effect that Page uses is NOT backwards guitar or slow attack. It is tremolo--either on his amp (doubtfully, since he used Marshall's not Fenders) or in a pedal. He also might be using a phaser set to really fast cycles.
  • Michael Picard from Lapwai, IdThis song is pretty massive and this echo ee thing is cool
  • Colin K from Sndy Creek, Ohthe "horn" sound or back echo can simply be produced by increasing the pickup volume from 0 to 10 while holding the b flat chord of course having the les paul helps
  • Riley from Lynn, MaThis song is very good and Page & Plant usually played it during their 95 Tour. That version is cool because it starts off as the Immigrant Song then Page goes into The Wanton Song
  • Brandon from Victoria, CanadaDeffinately underrated
  • Ryan from Mesa, AzIt's not a "backwards echo" or a "backwards guitar". It is an electric effect called slow attack. I've never even heard of anything called backwards guitar. But most definately this is one of the best songs Zeppelin has recorded.
  • Pants from Calgary, Canada"Jimmy Page used his "backward echo" on the guitar solo, where the echo is heard before the note." There is no backwards echo on the guitar solo. The horn-like guitar sound just before Plant starts singing the 2nd and 3rd verses, however, is actually backwards guitar.
  • Mark from Chicago, United StatesI totally agree, I love this song. It's one of my favorite songs, totally underrated man. People, listen to this track man!

    I've actually heard this on the radio a couple of times, BTW.
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeThis song is horribly underrated. It totally rocks on, especially at the end when Jimmy's pounding riff is double-tracked in both speakers and Bonzo goes crazy on the symbals. No surprise this song is about sex, it's an orgasmic experience!
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