Gallows Pole

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Gallows Pole
Appears on Led Zeppelin III
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 070022043
Release date 5 October 1970
Recorded May 1970 at
Headley Grange, Hampshire.
Mixed at Electric Lady, New York.
Genre Folk rock
Language English
Length 4 minutes 58 seconds
Composer trad. arr. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'Gallows Pole' is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin, from the 1970 album Led Zeppelin III. The song is based on the traditional British folk tune 'The Maid Freed from the Gallows'.

Overview

The album is a shift in style for the band towards acoustic material, influenced by a vacation Jimmy Page and Robert Plant took to the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in the Welsh countryside.[1] Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page adapted the song from a version by Fred Gerlach.[2]

'Gallows Pole' begins as a simple acoustic guitar rhythm; mandolin is added in, then electric bass guitar shortly afterwards, and then banjo and drums simultaneously join in. The instrumentation builds up to a crescendo, increasing in tempo as the song progresses. The acoustic guitar chord progression (in standard tuning) is simple with a riff based on variations of the open A chord and the chords D and G occurring in the verse. Page played banjo, six and 12 string acoustic guitar and electric guitar (a Gibson Les Paul), while John Paul Jones played mandolin and bass.[3]

Page has stated that, similar to the song 'The Battle of Evermore' which was included on their fourth album, the song emerged spontaneously when he started experimenting with Jones' banjo, an instrument he had never before played. 'I just picked it up and started moving my fingers around until the chords sounded right, which is the same way I work on compositions when the guitar's in different tunings.'[4]

The Led Zeppelin version of the song is unique in that, despite the bribes, which the hangman accepts, he still carries out the execution:

Oh yes, you got a fine sister, she warmed my blood from cold,
She brought my blood to boiling hot to keep you from the gallows pole,
Your brother brought me silver, and your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard to see you swinging on the gallows pole

Led Zeppelin would perform the song a few times live during Led Zeppelin concerts in 1971.[5] Singer Plant would sometimes also include lyrics in live performances of the Led Zeppelin song 'Trampled Under Foot' in 1975.

Credits

Personnel
  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, banjo, electric guitar, backing vocals, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – mandolin, bass guitar, backing vocals
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer
    • Eddie Kramer - mixing
    • 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, 38. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 43. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 43. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Schulps, Dave (October 1977). "Jimmy Page: The Trouser Press Interview". Trouser Press 4 (22). ISSN 0164-1883.
  5. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 43. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.