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Led Zeppelin recorded "When the Levee Breaks" for their untitled fourth album. When considering material for the group to record, singer Robert Plant suggested the Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie song. Jimmy Page commented that while Plant's lyrics identified with the original, he developed a new guitar riff that set it apart. However, it is John Bonham's drumming that is usually noted as the defining characteristic of the song.

Lyrics[]

If it keeps on raining
Levee's going to break
If it keeps on raining
Levee's going to break
When the levee breaks
I'll have no place to stay

Mean old levee
Taught me to weep and moan
Boy, mean old levee
Taught me to weep and moan
It's got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home
Oh well, oh well, oh well, ooh

Don't it make you feel bad
When you're trying to find your way home
You don't know which way to go?
If you're going down South
They got no work to do
If you don't know about Chicago
Ah, ah, ah

Crying won't help your praying
Won't do you no good
Now crying won't help your praying
Won't do you no good

When the levee breaks
Mama, you got to move, ooh
All last night
Sat on the levee and moaned
All last night
Sat on the levee and moaned
Thinking about my baby
And my happy home, oh

Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh
Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh
Oh, oh
Going, going to Chicago
Going to Chicago

Sorry but I can't take you
Going down, going down now, going down
Going down now, going down
Going down, going down, going down, oh

Going down, going down now
Going down, going down now
Going down, going down now
Going down, going d-d-d-d-down, down
Ooh, ooh