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Great B-Sides: Hey, Hey, What Can I Do by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin III

I mean, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that every one liked. They left that to the Bee Gees.

Wayne Campbell

As noted in the movie Wayne’s World, Led Zeppelin didn’t play the pop game. They avoided releasing singles, instead preferring listeners to experience their albums as a whole. They didn’t release singles at all in the UK, and only had cursory releases in other countries. In fact they only released one non-LP track during their tenure, ‘Hey, Hey, What Can I Do’, an outtake from 1970’s Led Zeppelin III.

Given the divisive nature of that record’s closer ‘Hats Off To (Roy) Harper’, it’s somewhat surprising that this likeable song was excluded. The most likely explanation is that the band felt that the song was too straightforward – it’s driven by Page’s acoustic strum, and it features a singalong chorus. But I love the lyric that feels akin to the blues songs that early Led Zeppelin delved into, even if the story of a wayward female lover is implausibly hypocritical from one of rock’s most decadent, shark wielding, bands.

Strangely, the song was difficult to track down for a while – it wasn’t released on the original version of the outtakes collection Coda, although it was restored to later editions.

I also enjoy The Hold Steady‘s cover version:

Want to tell you about the girl I love
My she looks so fine
She’s the only one that I been dreamin’ of
Maybe someday she will be all mine
I want to tell her that I love her so
I thrill with her every touch
I need to tell her she’s the only one I really loveI got a woman, want to ball all day
I got a woman, she won’t be true, no
I got a woman, stay drunk all the time
I said I got a little woman and she won’t be trueSunday morning when we go down to church
See the menfolk standin’ in line
I said they come to pray to the Lord
With my little girl, looks so fine
In the evening when the sun is sinkin’ low
Everybody’s with the one they love
I walk the town, keep a-searchin’ all around
Lookin’ for my street corner girlI got a woman, want to ball all day
I got a woman, she won’t be true, no no
I got a woman, stay drunk all the time
I said I got a little woman and she won’t be trueIn the bars, with the men who play guitars
Singin’, drinkin’ and rememberin’ the times
My little lover does a midnight shift
She followed around all the time
I guess there’s just one thing a-left for me to do
Gonna pack my bags and move on my way
‘Cause I got a worried mind sharin’ what I thought was mine
Gonna leave her where the guitars playI got a woman, she won’t be true, no no
I got a woman, want to ball all day, yeah, yeah
I got a woman, stay drunk all the time
I got a little woman and she won’t be trueI said she won’t be trueNo, yeah, no, yeah, no, yeah, no, yeah (hey, hey, what can I say?)Ah (hey hey, what can I do) keep on, keep on
(No, no, what can I say?) she won’t
Keep on, keep on (hey, hey, what can I do?)
(No, no, what can I say?)
(Hey, hey, what can I do?) 
(No, no, what can I say?) hey, hey what can I do, I got a women she won’t be true
(Hey, hey, what can I do?) oh oh hear what I said I got a woman wanna bawl all day
(No, no, what can I say?) keep on keep on
(Hey, hey, what can I do?)



27 thoughts on “Great B-Sides: Hey, Hey, What Can I Do by Led Zeppelin Leave a comment

  1. Great song, thanks for highlighting it. There really is nothing un- Led Zeppelin about this song. Jimmy Page wasn’t afraid to use the acoustic guitar and Robert Plant’s vocals are as good as any Led Zep song.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s fun and loose…which they weren’t known for. Just super likable. Love Jimmy’s acoustic in this. He was super in the studio with the sound he got.

    Liked by 2 people

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