‘A very haunting guitar run down’: How ‘Dazed and Confused’ came to be a Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin staple

Share this:

Though a studio version on “Dazed and Confused” was never officially released by the Yardbirds, it’s remained a staple of their live set since Jake Holmes opened for the Jimmy Page edition of the band in 1967. Jim McCarty says the song arrived at a perfect time for the Yardbirds, who where in search of new material after the departures of Jeff Beck and Paul Samwell-Smith.

Holmes’ dark and mysterious “Dazed and Confused” proved to be a fit perfect, later appearing as part of the album Live Yardbirds Featuring Jimmy Page in 1968. Page would then make still another version of the track a signature part of his next band Led Zeppelin’s early years, as well.

“‘Dazed and Confused’ is a song with a great rock and roll story,” McCarty remembers, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “We played with Jake Holmes in New York when we had the last line-up — Jimmy, Keith [Relf], Chris [Dreja] and myself — and were looking for songs, as a lot of the group creative chemistry had suffered after Paul and Jeff had gone. As usual, I wandered backstage to watch the support act and heard some quite pleasant folky songs. Then they played this song in a minor key with a very haunting guitar run down, and I immediately thought it would suit us. I went down to the record store in Greenwich Village, bought Jake’s album, and we worked out our version — later to be recorded by Zeppelin, becoming one of the classics of all time. Of course, we love to play it still.”

Relf did a minor lyrical re-write on the Yardbirds’ take, while Page executed a then-new move — using a violin bow on his electric-guitar strings. (Page has said he got the idea from pre-Yardbirds sessions work with violinist David McCallum Sr.) For his later version with Zep, Page kept that element — he’d also memorably use the bow on “How Many More Times” from 1969’s Led Zeppelin I and “In the Light” from 1975’s Physical Graffiti) — while changing the melody and adding additional lyrics.

Something Else!

Something Else!

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Something Else!
Share this:
  • John Townsend

    The Violin Bow was first used by the guitarist from The Creation and was his signature on most of their recording’s before Jimmy Page !!

  • TheRuleOfLaw

    I have a live bootleg recording of the Yardbirds, with Beck, Page & Clapton playing D&C live in 1966…

  • ifutureman

    Of course, it took a lawsuit to get Jake Holmes any money from Zeppelin for their theft of his song. At least Mr. Holmes lived long enough to get his proper credit.

    • sidebar78

      If you knew any thing, you would know Jake said “I made a good living after Led Zeppelin recorded Dazed. People wanted to hear the original. I might of just faded away, but the Zeppelin thing kept me current, so I just gave the damned thing to Jimmy.” It wasn’t until a New York lawyer persuaded Jake to sue Jimmy that the lawsuit came about, and of course the lawyer took the lions share of the money.