Tea for One

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Tea for One
Appears on Presence
Published by Flames of Albion Music
Registration ASCAP 500246700
Release date 31 March 1976
Recorded 9-27 November 1976 at
Musicland Studios, Munich.
Mixed at Musicland Studios, Munich.
Genre Blues rock
Language English
Length 9 minutes 27 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Swan Song Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Keith Harwood

'Tea for One' is the last track on English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1976 album Presence.

Overview

It begins with mid-tempo interplay between guitarist Jimmy Page and drummer John Bonham before settling into a sotto voce groove. The song evolves into a slow blues epic, featuring lyrics which deal with homesickness and loneliness. Much of this was felt by Robert Plant, who recalls sitting alone in a New York hotel during a U.S. concert tour drinking 'tea for one'. Other members of the band, notably John Bonham, were also widely reported to suffer from homesickness during Led Zeppelin's concert tours.

The song recalls an earlier Led Zeppelin song in sound and style, 'Since I've Been Loving You'.[1] 'Tea for One' came from the desire of the band to return to their roots in order to see what had changed since they were younger.

In an interview given in 1977, Page said that the song:

... was the only time I think we've ever gotten close to repeating the mood of another of our numbers, 'Since I've Been Loving You'. The chordal structure is similar, a minor blues. We just wanted to get a really laid-back blues feeling without blowing out on it at all. We did two takes in the end, one with a guitar solo and one without. I ended up sitting there thinking, 'I've got this guitar solo to do,' because there have been blues guitar solos since Eric (Clapton) on Five Live Yardbirds and everyone's done a good one. I was really a bit frightened of it. I thought, 'What's to be done?' I didn't want to blast out the solo like a locomotive or something, because it wasn't conductive to the vibe of the rest of the track. I was extremely aware that you had to do something different than just some B.B. King licks.[2]

Page also said 'Tea for One' is exceptional. It was to the point, recorded in a couple of takes. Robert's vocals are tremendous. He was doing that his leg was in a cast.'[3]

Live performances

'Tea for One' was never played live in its entirety at Led Zeppelin concerts,[4] but from 1977 some of the guitar solo was incorporated into 'Since I've Been Loving You' at various shows. It was played in full by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant during their tour of Japan in 1996, where it received three airings backed by an orchestra.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Keith Harwood - engineer, mixing
    • Jeremy Gee – tape engineer
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

References

  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 82. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  3. 'Their Time is Gonna Come', Classic Rock: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 29.
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 82. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.