Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin song)

Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin song)

Name = Heartbreaker
SorA =
Artist = Led Zeppelin
Album = Led Zeppelin II
Released = October 22, 1969
track_no = 5
Recorded = 1969, A&R Studios, New York
Genre = Hard rock, blues-rock
Length = 4:14
Writer = Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones & John Bonham
Composer =
Label = Atlantic Records
Producer = Jimmy Page
prev = "Thank You"
prev_no = 4
next = "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)"
next_no = 6
"Heartbreaker" is a song from English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1969 album, "Led Zeppelin II". It was credited to all four members of the band, having been recorded at A&R Studios, New York, during the band's second concert tour of the United States, and was engineered by Eddie Kramer.

"Heartbreaker" opens Side II of the album, and is famous for its memorable guitar riff by Jimmy Page, along with its unaccompanied solo, which he did not compose but rather improvised on the spot. It was voted as the 16th greatest guitar solo of all time by "Guitar World" magazine. "Heartbreaker" is included in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time


The song begins on beat 4, bending the minor 7th (G) up to the root (A), kicking off an aggressive riff constructed around the blues scale, followed by a powerful power chord assault during the verse from not only the guitar but the bass playing power chords also (through a rotating Leslie cabinet nonetheless). Robert Plant sings about a woman named Annie, who is up to her old tricks again; the lyrics recalling a tale of a man painfully wizened after their encounters.

Following a straight 8ths "rave up" by the band, Page's solo fires off a rapid-fire chain of sextuplet hammer-ons and pull-offs, accented by the guitarist bending the G String behind the guitar's nut. Page teases the audience with a few bluesy licks before launching into a "wall of notes" motif in A, finally bringing it to an end with a blues cliché "goodbye chord." The rest of the band joins Page for another improvisation as an interlude into the final verse.

In an interview Page gave to "Guitar World" magazine in 1998, Page stated that:

Page also disclosed to "Guitar World" that this song in general, and the a cappella solo in particular, was the first recorded instance of his famous Gibson Les Paul/Marshall Stack combination.

In an odd technical note, this recording seems to be the only Led Zeppelin track in which drummer John Bonham's bass drum was placed notably low in the mix.

When "Heartbreaker" is played on radio stations, it almost always segues into the next song on the album, "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)," thanks to the similarities of subjects involved between the two songs, and the fact that "Living Loving Maid" segues directly from "Heartbreaker". However, they would never be played together at concerts because Jimmy Page was not too fond of "Living Loving Maid".

Live history

The song was a crowd favorite at Led Zeppelin concerts, and the band opened many of their live shows in 1971 and 1972 with "Immigrant Song" followed by a segue right into "Heartbreaker". On later concert tours it was often played as an encore. "Heartbreaker", along with "Communication Breakdown", were the only songs to be played live during every year that the band toured.

During live performances Page would frequently improvise the playing in his solo, and was also known to include parts of Bach's "Bourrée in E minor" from his "Lute Suites" (this can be heard on the live albums "Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions" and "How the West Was Won"), as well as Simon and Garfunkel's "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", though on official releases this section has been cut. Sometimes the solo would also be stretched out to incorporate sections of the traditional English folk song, "Greensleeves".

A live, filmed version of the song from 1973 at Madison Square Garden, New York, is included in the Led Zeppelin concert film, "The Song Remains The Same", although it is only shown in parts. For many years, this recorded version was left off the film's accompanying soundtrack album, until the album was remastered and re-released in 2007, with the full performance of the song included.

Led Zeppelin's last performance ever of the song was on June 29th, 1980, at Denmark. Following Bonham's death, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin performed "Heartbreaker" at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary party in 1988, at Madison Square Garden in New York, with John's son Jason Bonham on drums. Jimmy Page also performed this song on his tour with The Black Crowes in 1999. A version of "Heartbreaker" performed by Page and The Black Crowes can be found on the album "Live at the Greek".


The solo's trickery purportedly inspired Eddie Van Halen to develop his influential tapping technique after he had seen Led Zeppelin play "Heartbreaker" live:

"Heartbreaker" is one of the songs featured in Nick Hornby's book "31 Songs". In 2004, the song was ranked #320 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cover versions

*Led Zeppelin parody cover band Dread Zeppelin recorded a version of this song on their album "Un-Led-Ed".
*Alvin Youngblood Hart recorded a version of this song for the 1999 compilation album 'Whole Lotta Blues: Songs of Led Zeppelin'.
*Missouri metalcore band Coalesce recorded a version of this song for their album "There is Nothing New Under the Sun", an album entirely composed of Led Zeppelin covers.
*The song was also covered by Nirvana and a recording of this performance can be heard as the second track on their "With the Lights Out" box set and on their composite album "". It is labeled as their first concert.
*American comedian Wayne Federman plays the descending "goodbye chord" (including feedback) of Heartbreaker during his hard rock tribute played on his electric ukulele. The clip can be seen on Comedy Central.
*The band Foreigner played part of this song during their 2007-2008 concert tour in the breakdown section of "Jukebox Hero."



*"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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