Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Robert Johnson-Traveling Riverside Blues

You know what I'm talking about...

Robert Johnson-Traveling Riverside Blues

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"Travelling Riverside Blues" is a blues song written and recorded in Dallas, Texas by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. Johnson's June 20, 1937 recording has a typical 12 bar blues structure, played on a single guitar tuned to open G, with a slide. It was first released on the 1961 compilation LP King of the Delta Blues Singers. The song has proved popular with more recent blues musicians.


A verse was incorporated into Cream's "Crossroads", their 1968 version of Johnson's "Cross Road Blues".

English rock band Led Zeppelin's version of this song was recorded at the BBC studios on June 24, 1969, upon which Jimmy Page later dubbed extra guitar tracks. It was was broadcast four days later on John Peel's Top Gear show under the title "Travelling Riverside Blues '69". It is quite different from the original, and it is more a tribute to Robert Johnson than a straight cover. The song showcases a riff by Page (also in open G tuning), and in the lyrics Robert Plant quotes many Robert Johnson songs, such as "She studies evil all the time", from "Kind Hearted Woman Blues", and "Why don't you come on in my kitchen", from "Come on in My Kitchen" (which is heard during the song's solo). Conversely, parts of Johnson's "Travelling Riverside Blues" are used as lyrics in Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song", namely the "squeeze my lemon" sequence. It is likely that Johnson borrowed this himself, from a song recorded in the same year (1937) called "She Squeezed My Lemon".The line "she got a mortgage on my body and a lien on my soul" and reference to front teeth lined with gold at the end of the song are also from Johnson's original song.

The May 2008 issue of Uncut Magazine focused upon Zeppelin's 2008 reunion. A promotional CD attached to the magazine was titled "When the Levee Breaks: 15 classic tracks that inspired Led Zeppelin." The CD included the original "Travelling Riverside Blues" by Robert Johnson. Inside the magazine, the track commentary elaborated upon Zeppelin's version:

"Plant's infamous 'squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg' line on Led Zep II's "The Lemon Song" was lifted from this '36 cut by the king of the Delta blues singers--although Page partly borrows the track's memorable riff from Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor.'"

"Travelling Riverside Blues" can be found on the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions album, on disc 1 of the Led Zeppelin Box Set, and on the expanded Coda album from The Complete Studio Recordings box set. It was interest from US radio interviewers and fans during Page's Outrider tour that originally led him to negotiate with BBC Enterprises for the song's release.A promotional video clip was also released in 1990, with outtake footage from the band's 1976 concert film, The Song Remains the Same. The song reached number seven on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks Top 50 chart in November 1990, culled from national album rock radio airplay reports.

Eric Clapton covered this song, along with several other Robert Johnson classics, on his 2004 album, Me and Mr. Johnson.

Myles Kennedy has sung and played the song with his band Alter Bridge at live shows in 2007.

Dion covered this song on his 2006 Grammy-nominated album "Bronx in Blue".


If your man get personal, want you to have your fun
If your man get personal, want you to have your fun
Just come on back to Friars Point, mama, and barrelhouse all night long
I got womens in Vicksburg, clean on into Tennessee
I got womens in Vicksburg, clean on into Tennessee
But my Friars Point rider, now, hops all over me
I ain't gon' to state no color, but her front teeth crowned with gold
I ain't gon' to state no color, but her front teeth is crowned with gold
She got a mortgage on my body, now, and a lien on my soul
Lord, I'm goin' to Rosedale, gon' take my rider by my side
Lord, I'm goin' to Rosedale, gon' take my rider by my side
We can still barrelhouse baby, on the riverside
Now you can squeeze my lemon 'til the juice run down my...
(spoken) 'til the juice rune down my leg, baby, you know what I'm talkin' about
You can squeeze my lemon 'til the juice run down my leg
(spoken) That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, now
But I'm goin' back to Friars Point, if I be rockin'to my head

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