A lemon is great for killing parasites in chicken, a zesty addition to a large vodka and tonic and also apparently an age old tradition in the playfulness of sexual innuendo in Blues music: way back in 1929, Joe Williams was singing “You Squeezed my lemon/Caused my juice to run” in the song ‘I Want it Awful Bad.’
But all that pales into a smoothie of citric insignificance when you consider the mightiest lemon of all time for players of the electric bass guitar – ‘The Lemon Song’ from the album Led Zeppelin II.
Here’s the back-story:
There I was in my own little world of wonderment – in the throes of first love with playing my bass guitar; enjoying the simple lines and losing myself in the groove when I asked my husband Simon that fateful question: “Got any ideas on what you think I could learn next?”
Being a professional musician and guitar player with a British Blues Award nomination under his belt, I am always grateful for his input and his encouragement has served as a rocket up my ass on many occasion…. but when he suggested Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song – I listened to it with the innocence akin to that of the child accepting a lollipop from the Child Catcher in the film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and then I heard a mighty CLANK!! The world went dark and my whole musical world momentarily imploded!!
There was absolutely no way I could play that!!! No bloody way!!! And that was that!!!!
A couple of months later – I decided to lift the carpet that I had firmly nailed to the floorboards and take another sneaky peak at the song to see if there was any way I could conquer this mountain of a song! I kept reminding myself of a note I had pinned to my wall when I was at Uni which read:
“It’s only difficult because you haven’t learned it yet!”
and tried to listen to the song with fresh ears! But, again I had the same response and thought there is no way I can do this!
But, not one to give up easily when I knew it would dramatically improve my bass playing – I also thought:
“A mountain is conquered one step at a time”
and that is where I started – one phrase at a time!
Starting at the beginning I would play a phrase of the song over and over and over again trying to work out what notes were being played, then tried to cross-reference with any half-decent videos that were out there to make sure I was playing in the right place of the neck, then unlearning phrases because I had made a pigs ear of it and made things doubly difficult (at times impossible) for myself …and so it continued for months! And by months I mean half a year!
I would fall asleep with the bass line running through my head – and wake up with the same bloody line there to greet me: like a cross between the Cheshire Cat and Jack Nicholson’s big happy sinister grin of obsessive toothy joy – MORNING!!! LET’S PLAY BASS AGAIN!!
It almost drove me crazy!! Don’t get me wrong – I love playing but this was an absolute brain mangler at times – especially dissecting the faster parts – it made me feel like I was spinning on a never-ending mad fairground ride!
And to now!
Tomorrow night Simon and I have been invited to play a few songs as part of a massive Daze of Dawn & Friends ‘Rock Party’ at 16 Toneladas in Valencia ! I think there are over 25 musician guests playing with the band and it will be my first outing playing The Lemon Song on bass!
Key of E! Wish me luck – or better still – wish me ROCK!!!!
P.S. All I can say is if I ever meet John Paul Jones in person, I won’t know whether to hug him … or throttle him!!