Tall Cool One

Album: Now And Zen (1988)
Charted: 25
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Robert Plant was the lead singer for Led Zeppelin, and he borrowed a lot of their songs to cobble together "Tall Cool One." It contains samples from Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," "Dazed And Confused," "Custard Pie," "Black Dog," and "The Ocean."
  • Plant's Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page played lead guitar on this track. He also played on the Now And Zen track "Heaven Knows."

    In Paul Rees' book Robert Plant: A Life, producer Tim Palmer recounts the day that Page came into the studio to record his guitar part for the song. According to Palmer, every assistant and techie around found a reason to be in the room in order to see Plant and Page play together again.

    Palmer recalls that Page was drinking beer and smoking while playing, "like a cartoon caricature of himself."

    Palmer never comes out and says it, but the subtext seems to be that Page wasn't performing at his highest level. Palmer didn't want to correct one of rock's greatest guitarists on how to play, so instead he just took what was given and pieced together what he could for the solo.

    Nobody told Page that Plant and company were sampling Zeppelin songs on "Tall Cool One" until after it was already done, at which point guitarist Doug Boyle and Plant played it for him without warning. Both men recalled that Page seemed confused more than anything else. Plant got a laugh out of it.

    "It was a bad thing to do, really," Plant says in Rees' book. "Yet at the time it seemed a bit of a hoot. Silly."
  • Prior to Now And Zen being released, the Beastie Boys sampled a number of Led Zeppelin tunes for their album Licensed To Ill. This being the age of unregulated sampling, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page discussed retaliating by sampling Beastie Boys' work in a collaboration. However, as keyboardist Phil Johnstone explained, the Beastie Boys were poorly recorded and there was nothing they could use. So instead they sampled Led Zeppelin material and Jimmy agreed to do the solo on the track. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jodeo - Plymouth, MI
  • Plant wrote this song with Phil Johnstone, who co-produced the album and contributed guitar. Johnstone often joined Plant on tour as a guitarist.
  • This was featured in commercials for Coke, which helped promote both the song and the soda. The line, "Lighten up baby, I'm in love with you" was a good fit.
  • According to author Dave Thompson in The Voice That Sailed The Zeppelin, Plant took the title from a song by the Fabulous Wailers, a '50s-'60s band from Tacoma, Washington. Their version of "Tall Cool One" was instrumental and nothing like Plant's song. As Plant said it, his song wasn't a remake so much as "tipping my hat to the original song."

Comments: 13

  • John from Jackson, MsI can't find this information anywhere on the internet. There is a part in the song where there are spoken words (You stroll, you jump, you're hot and you tease, 'Cause I'm your tall cool one and I'm built to please). Who speaks that part? I'd like to think it is Jimmy Page but every time I google it, I cannot find the answer...
  • R, from Victoria, AustraliaAt the beginning, at 8 seconds in, it sounds like he's also sampled a vocal track from Whole Lotta Love.
  • Guy from Benson, NcH is used in German music to mean B-flat(Not sure if it is used as much today). It actually goes a bit deeper than that, but I don't remember the actual details from my freshman music theory classes. The H-flat guitar tuning comment makes no sense whatsoever. Jimmy Page used plenty of alternate tunings with Zep songs.
  • Winfried from Recklinghausen, Germanyi want can get back in this time!
    the humans was clearly and say what
    they mean!!!Robert Plant is one of them.
    I remember,1970 hear this first time.
    Now 2008 hear it again,go sentimental!
    Many greatings all the others,like this
    time,sorry about my english
  • Michael from Pittsburgh, PaThe H-flat thing is not as strange as you may think. Sometimes "B" is referred to as "H" - I'm not sure why, but I assume it's part of a "they do it in that country" kind of thing. At any rate H Flat would just be another way of saying B Flat in this context (although I'm not sure that H Flat is really correct - from what I understand in systems where H is used in lieu of B they use B to refer to A# or B Flat).
  • Miles from Washington Dc, United StatesH Flat?
  • Wayne from Port Neches, TxI think if you listen to the last Zep album, "In Through the Out Door" and then listen to the progression of Plant's solo material starting with "Pictures at Eleven" you could come to the conclusion that Plant had become the dominant influencer over Led Zep. While I am not saying Plant's solo work would have been Zep's work going forward, I am saying there is a great amount of musical similarities. Additionally, Plant has always made sure he had a top notch backing band throughout his solo career. The Strange Sensation is really good from his latest work, "The Mighty Rearranger"
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is pretty good. Still like Zeppelin songs better, and Robert Plants done better songs solo. Recently his voice seems to have gone down hill a little.
  • Ryan from Metairie, LaSamples were also used from "When The Levee Breaks"
  • Jim from Dallas, TxThe guitar is tuned to H-flat on the solo. Very experimental with Post-Zep Rock music.
  • Scott from Chicago, Ilto me this was robert plant's last great gasp
    after Zep's breakup......zep was like floyd
    or the stones in that they just didn't make sense
    solo...only the beatles were able to pull that off, and haltingly at that....
  • Dan from Lake Hiawatha, NjRobert Plant has one of the greatest rock n' roll voices of all time and is still rockin on just as great as the early days.
  • Laura from Toronto, CanadaI love this song... I'm a huge Zeppelin fan and I love Robert Plant's voice more than anything on the planet. This song shows his solo career is great, and I love that there is a Zeppelin twist to it because it shows that he can still do what he did 35 years ago. I didn't know that Page was the lead guitarist on this single, but it makes it even better.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal Tap

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal TapSong Writing

Based on criteria like girlfriend tension, stage mishaps and drummer turnover, these are the 10 bands most like Spinal Tap.

Charles Fox

Charles FoxSongwriter Interviews

After studying in Paris with a famous composition teacher, Charles became the most successful writer of TV theme songs.

16 Songs With a Heartbeat

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

Al Jourgensen of Ministry

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou HarrisSongwriter Interviews

She thinks of herself as a "song interpreter," but back in the '80s another country star convinced Emmylou to take a crack at songwriting.