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Down By The Seaside... The story behind this song?


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This is a hidden gem in Physical Graffiti, a song that just doesn't get enough attention in my opinion.

It's a curious song though, can anybody shed some light on the development/story behind this song? It's such a wonderful tune, I absolutely love Jimmy's guitar in this.

All I know about the song is that there was an acoustic version when Plant and Page retired to Bron-Yr-Aur when they were working on Zep III which I have listened to, and that the song was influenced by a Neil Young song "Down By The River".

Does anyone know anything more about it? Any quotes by the band members or anything at all would be great. It's been bugging me ever since I first heard this song many years ago and it still is.

Edited by IzzyBlues
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I always thought the song was really good, and used to think that it deserved more mention. But then I came on this site, and realized that the song is more loved and appreciated by people who listen to all of their music.

"Down by the Seaside" will always make me feel like I need to ust sit on a boat by the water.

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I love the song, but don't really know anything about it's inspiration or "meaning."

I'd hazard a guess that Robert's love of the land is what informed the song -- at least lyrically. The supposed Neil Young influence is really spotty at best, and only inferred by the closeness of their titles. Musically, they are quite dissimilar.

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Oh I love that song, and I agree sounds like Jimmy is playing underwater, then especially when the tempo speeds up, and Jimmy and Bonzo, and JPJ start jamming, great moody song, I also love the Robert Plant and Tori Amos cover----- Do you still do the twist? Do you find that you remember things that well?

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The song is reflective of their times on Puget sound in Seattle being out and about on the water during many beautiful spring and Sumer days. When the song hits full speed with the guitar solo that's got to be when the Mudsharks made there way in to their Edgewater rooms!

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If you can get hold of this it will confirm the Neil Young connection, as told by Dave Lewis and others as they review every song on the album.

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I love the song, but don't really know anything about it's inspiration or "meaning."

I'd hazard a guess that Robert's love of the land is what informed the song -- at least lyrically. The supposed Neil Young influence is really spotty at best, and only inferred by the closeness of their titles. Musically, they are quite dissimilar.

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If you can get hold of this it will confirm the Neil Young connection, as told by Dave Lewis and others as they review every song on the album.

...Or, could you elaborate instead? Does he quote any of the band members as stating such?

Edited by Melcórë
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Yes, in great detail.

Robert was into Neil Young with After The Goldrush and Harvest his favourite albums back in the day.

DBTS has a definite, "Harvest" feel about it.

The song was a nod to Down By The River.

All four members of Led Zeppelin attended the C,S,N & Y Wembley concert in 1974 and Jimmy Page jammed with them after the show.

I highly recommend the DVD.

...Or, could you elaborate instead? Does he quote any of the band members as stating such?

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  • 3 months later...

Love this song, very underrated. And that 'so far away'- section in the middle of the song: could that perhaps be the most mysterious sounding Zeppelin ever?? That could have been the theme for an entire song! (Begs the question: so why didn't they?)

- peace all -

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  • 1 year later...

Pretty self-explanatory IMO, it's about appreciating nature.

...and appreciating Neil Young. ;)

From the beginning when I first dropped the needle on Physical Graffiti, "Down by the Seaside" was one of my favourite songs on the album. It immediately went onto my "Songs I want Led Zeppelin to play in concert" list. Sadly, it never was.

The way Jimmy cranks the tremelo/Leslie effect with more and more intensity with each chorus is a delight. And that middle section is absolute aural heaven...so many layers of guitars and drones and Robert going "whoooo" that it puts me in trance.

A gem of a song and a perfect bridge between "Bron-Yr-Aur" and "Ten Years Gone". In fact, as much as people rave about the first disc (Sides 1 & 2) of Physical Graffiti, I submit to you that it is Side 3 that is one of the most perfect sides in Led Zeppelin's oeuvre.

"In the Light" - "Bron-Yr-Aur" - "Down by the Seaside" - "Ten Years Gone".

Side 3 is the emotional crux of Physical Graffiti.

Edited by Strider
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...and appreciating Neil Young. ;)

From the beginning when I first dropped the needle on Physical Graffiti, "Down by the Seaside" was one of my favourite songs on the album. It immediately went onto my "Songs I want Led Zeppelin to play in concert" list. Sadly, it never was.

The way Jimmy cranks the tremelo/Leslie effect with more and more intensity with each chorus is a delight. And that middle section is absolute aural heaven...so many layers of guitars and drones and Robert going "whoooo" that it puts me in trance.

A gem of a song and a perfect bridge between "Bron-Yr-Aur" and "Ten Years Gone". In fact, as much as people rave about the first disc (Sides 1 & 2) of Physical Graffiti, I submit to you that it is Side 3 that is one of the most perfect sides in Led Zeppelin's oeuvre.

"In the Light" - "Bron-Yr-Aur" - "Down by the Seaside" - "Ten Years Gone".

Side 3 is the emotional crux of Physical Graffiti.

I agree, it's a great tune. One of my favs of the new remasters, sounds great! :stereo:

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When PG was released in the UK, and went straight to number one on the album charts, BBC's Radio 1, the only really accessible radio station for popular music, would have a weekly chart show, which would end up with them playing a track off the current number one album. PG stayed at number one for several weeks, and the track they always seemed to play was DBTS. I recall one week, they played Night Flight instead. I guess the BBC was restricted by song length, so these two songs were probably good fits.

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This has always been a song that I have held in high esteem, and perhaps one of the more artistic, if not interesting, Zeppelin tunes in their catalogue. Side 3 of Physical Graffiti is my favorite album side of all their albums, with a highly thematic and conceptual approach to its construction. The middle section of DBTSS wildly ramps the intensity before slowly bleeding back down to a sublime recovery, and it is nothing short of brilliant. I have always interpreted the message as a commentary by Robert in which he expresses bewilderment at the hustle and bustle of people who had turned away from, and paid no attention, to the beauty of the seaside, and Mother Nature, that he had been completely captivated by. A truly great piece of work.

Edited by The Dark Lord
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I agree with everyone saying how great Down By The Seaside is... always been one of my favorite songs. On my iTunes I have numerous Zeppelin play lists, including solo material from Jimmy and Robert as well as Page/Plant and Coverdale*Page. As Presence is my favorite album, I made a play list that I call Perfection. Now most of you won't like this, and that's fine, it's MY personal choice, but here's the play list in order of songs:

Achilles Last Stand

For Your Life

In The Light

Bron-Y-Aur

Down By The Seaside

Ten Years Gone

Nobody's Fault But Mine

Candy Store Rock

Hots On For Nowhere

Tea For One

I could have added others, such as Immigrant Song and Going To California, but decided to just add side three of Physical Graffiti to Presence, minus Royal Orleans. If you have the chance to put those songs in that order on your iTunes or on a CD, I guarantee that you will be blown away!!!

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