Dazed and Confused (song)

"Dazed and Confused" is a song by Jake Holmes and by Led Zeppelin.

Jake Holmes

Folk singer Jake Holmes wrote and recorded "Dazed and Confused" for his debut solo album "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes, released in June 1967. Like the other tracks on the album, the song does not include any drums. It was recorded entirely with the trio of Holmes on guitar, keyboard and vocals, Ted Irwin on guitar and Lee Underwood on bass.

The song has been incorrectly mislabeled as a tale about a bad acid trip. Holmes himself has confirmed that this is not the case. In 2001 he gave an interview to Shindig! magazine and said this about "Dazed and Confused":

I never took acid. I smoked grass and tripped on it, but I never took acid. I was afraid to take it. The song's about a girl who hasn't decided whether she wants to stay with me or not. It's pretty much one of those love songs.

The Yardbirds

During a 1967 tour of the United States by English rock group The Yardbirds, Jake Holmes performed as the opener at the Village Theater in Greenwich Village on August 25, 1967. The Yardbirds were inspired by his performance and decided to work up their own arrangement for a new song. Their version featured long instrumental patches of bowed guitar courtesy of Jimmy Page, and dynamic instrumental flourishes. Page has stated that he obtained the idea of using a cello bow on his guitar from a violinist named David McCallum, Sr., during his session days before joining the Yardbirds in 1966. At that time, it even had a little eastern influence, as can be heard on some French television appearances. It quickly became a staple of The Yardbirds' live act during their final year of existence.

It was never officially recorded by the band, although an unauthorized live version was included on the semi-legitimate Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page album under the alternate title "I'm Confused". Another live recording from french TV series "Bouton Rouge" (recorded on 9 March 1968) was released on Cumular Limit in 2000, credited as "Dazed and Confused" by Jake Holmes arr. Yardbirds.

Led Zeppelin studio recording

When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, the song "Dazed and Confused" was re-worked by Page yet again, this time as a member of Led Zeppelin. They recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. It begins with a slow-tempo bluesy rhythm, propelled by John Paul Jones' descending bass line. It then changes to a faster tempo during the darkest part of the song, again featuring bowed guitar by Page, followed by a furious guitar solo (similar to Page's solo from the Yardbirds' "Think About It"), before finally returning to the initial rhythm. John Bonham's sporadic, explosive drumming throughout helped define the song's power and intensity.

This was one of three Led Zeppelin songs on which Page used bowed guitar, the other being "How Many More Times", and "In the Light". The song "In the Evening" utilized several tremolo bar drops to mimic the bow sound.

ASCAP , which assigns serial codes on the basis of published songs, did not give the same ASCAP code to both versions of "Dazed and Confused"; normally, cover versions are assigned the same number. ASCAP assigns a new number if, in its opinion, the song structure differs markedly to warrant a separate entry. Jake Holmes' "Dazed and Confused" was given the code 340119544, while Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" was given the code 340128276.

Led Zeppelin live performances

"Dazed and Confused" was widely popularized by, and is still heavily identified with, Led Zeppelin's version. It became the centerpiece for the group at Led Zeppelin concerts, at least through the release of "Whole Lotta Love" from their second album. When performed live, it was (except for the fast middle section) played at a slower overall tempo, and gradually extended in duration (up to 45 minutes by 1975) as a multi-section improvised jam. Although initially performed in a manner similar to the studio version, some noticeable differences were gradually developed in live performances. By June 1969, in the section where Page plays guitar with a cello bow, the rest of the band dropped out completely, allowing him to perform a lengthier free-form improvisation, though by January 1970, the main structure of the section was already formed. By 1972, another improvised section had been added between the verses and this. The fast section was extended to allow changes in dynamics and volume, as well as changing the beat, sometimes seguing in and out of another song altogether. There was a short jam at the end of the song after the final verse.

Over time, the improvisational suite incorporated more and more material. In 1972, including on the live How the West Was Won, the song incorporated riffs from the Led Zeppelin songs "The Crunge", and "Walter's Walk". By 1973, the song featured an extended transition before the cello bow solo, which incorporated a melody that would later be used in 1976's "Achilles Last Stand". Plant sang lyrics from either Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco" or Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" during this transition. Also during this time, the violin solo would incorporate "Mars" from Gustav Holst's suite The Planets, accompanied by Plant's vocalizations.

A live version of "Dazed and Confused" was featured on Led Zeppelin's 1973 concert film, The Song Remains the Same (and accompanying soundtrack), as part of Page's fantasy sequence. Other live recordings are also found on the official releases Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions (featuring two different versions), How the West Was Won, and the Led Zeppelin DVD.

"Dazed and Confused" was performed on every Led Zeppelin concert tour up to and including their 1975 shows at Earls Court. It was then removed from their live set, although Page continued to perform parts of the bowed guitar segment during solo spots in 1977 and 1979 (as preludes to "Achilles Last Stand" and "In the Evening", respectively. It was performed once again at Led Zeppelin's reunion show at the O2 Arena, London on December 10, 2007.

Cultural influence

The song was also used as the basis for the title of the 1993 film Dazed and Confused, which chronicled the lives of various American youths on their last day of high school in 1976. However, it is not found on the film's soundtrack. The film's director Richard Linklater appealed to Led Zeppelin band members to use some of their songs in the movie but, although Page agreed, Robert Plant refused.

English rock band Electrasy included a cover of the song on their 2000 album In Here We Fall.

In the television show The Simpsons, an episode of Itchy & Scratchy has the title "Dazed and Contused", an obvious pun on the song.

The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


External links


  • Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, by Chris Welch, ISBN 1-56025-818-7
  • The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, by Dave Lewis, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9

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