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What is this lyric line in The Ocean?


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"...I got a date I can't be late for the __________________?"

We all know the official lyric sheet on the album cover lists it as 'high hopes hailla ball,' but to my loud-music-beaten ears it sounds nothing like it.

Sounds more like:

"for the hell I'm head for,"

"for the hellfire that must fall"

"for the hellfire and its spore"* (hence the mushroom reference in the flick?)

"for the hellhound and its spawn"

Any thoughts?

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The CD sleeve says:

"Got a date, can't be late for the high hopes hailla ball"

Which isn't what he says but Wikipedia says this about that line:

"The song is also known for a lyric intentionally misprinted on the insert sleeve of the LP. A lyric referring to "The Hellhound" (a homage to Robert Johnson who, as legend has it, could not have received such talent without meeting the devil and his "hellhound" at the "crossroads") was deemed unfit to print in the lyric sheet and was changed to the nonsense phrase "high hopes hailla"."

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It sounds to me like "the hellhound headed forth."

There's got to be a story behind those lyrics which I don't know. Maybe the lyrics are completely innocent, but perhaps Jimmy, with his flair for marketing, asked that the record company print some alternative line on the record sleeve to keep us all guessing. :)

I wish Ev or Otto were around. They could definitely answer this question for us. :D

Edited to add: I just checked my "Led Zeppelin, Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song," and it doesn't even mention the line.

Edited by eskimoblueday
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"...I got a date I can't be late for the __________________?"

We all know the official lyric sheet on the album cover lists it as 'high hopes hailla ball,' but to my loud-music-beaten ears it sounds nothing like it.

Sounds more like:

"for the hell I'm head for,"

"for the hellfire that must fall"

"for the hellfire and its spore"* (hence the mushroom reference in the flick?)

"for the hellhound and its spawn"

Any thoughts?

It's "I got a date I can't be late for the hellhound headed forth" isn't it?

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Hi, the line goes ...date I cant be late for the Hellhound lovers ball.

That's what I've always thought. It does make perfect sense: the ocean is supposed to be the audience acc. to RP, so hellhound lovers' ball, hellhounds being the band, lovers=the audience, and ball is the show (ball as in ballroom, not the ball all day variety!).

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That's what I've always thought. It does make perfect sense: the ocean is supposed to be the audience acc. to RP, so hellhound lovers' ball, hellhounds being the band, lovers=the audience, and ball is the show (ball as in ballroom, not the ball all day variety!).

That's a very interesting take on those lyrics. The only thing is, the third word he sings seems to start with an "f" sound, don't you think? That's what I'm hearing anyway.

Led Zeppelin is an awesome band. Here were are 30+ years later still trying to figure out what Robert is trying to tell us. They're like the gift that keeps on giving. :)

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That's a very interesting take on those lyrics. The only thing is, the third word he sings seems to start with an "f" sound, don't you think? That's what I'm hearing anyway.

Led Zeppelin is an awesome band. Here were are 30+ years later still trying to figure out what Robert is trying to tell us. They're like the gift that keeps on giving. :)

See my post:

I think the most accurate place to look would be in the CD album sleeve itself....where it says this:

"Got a date, can't be late for the high hopes hailla ball"

End of story. B)

I just agree with this because you would expect the official lyrics to be inside the official sleeve wouldn't you?

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See my post:

I just agree with this because you would expect the official lyrics to be inside the official sleeve wouldn't you?

Ah ha! You WOULD expect the official lyrics to be on the official sleeve UNLESS the band in question is Led Zeppelin. Then all bets are off. :lol:;)

A couple of things I'm thinking:

To me, the lyrics Robert sings on the record just don't sound like the lyrics printed on the sleeve. Do they sound the same to you? Robert has the sort of singing style that lends itself to confusion where lyrics come in, but to me, the two really don't seem to match.

What is a high hopes hailla ball, anyway? For that matter, how could the movement you need be on your shoulder? ...ok, I guess that's a question for another thread. :D

In response to a post once about Robert compiling the true lyrics of Zep songs into a lyric book, Knebby said something to the effect that Robert has a bad memory and probably couldn't remember the lyrics he sang at the time the Zep records were recorded in order to do so. I wonder if the same applies to this particular lyric? I wonder if he couldn't actually remember what he sang, and he just made up something for the record company to print on the sleeve?

I know I'm kind of rambling, but those are some of my thoughts. What do you think?

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Knebby just might have figured this out. For the life of me I simply can't. The thing is, to me it does sound like he's saying 'hellhound' there (instead of 'high hopes'), but I can't really make out the rest of the line. However, I find that slightly odd, because if that's what he's saying in the beginning of the line then he's quoting the single most poetically dark and dramatic blues ever recorded, e.g. Robert Johnson's 'Hellhound On My Trail' - in a song that overall carries a happy, even celebratory mood.

We all know the song basically is about Led Zeppelin's concerts, the ocean being a metaphor for the fans in the audiences. Of course, Plant might be referring to the band's very strong blues roots. To me Plant does seem to say something like 'ball' at the end, which I think might make sense in the context of the song, and as for the strange 'hailla' in the official version of the lyrics (you can't find that one in the OED - I tried), well, Robert Johnson in 'Hellhound' does sing about 'Blues falling down like hail'. But I can't get a sentence out of it all that makes any sense, and the reference seems a bit 'dark' for the mood of the song. 'Hellhound [....] ball'? Hmm...

Here are the lyrics to Robert Johnson's masterpiece:

HELLHOUND ON MY TRAIL

I got to keep movin'

I've got to keep movin'

blues falling down like hail

blues falling down like hail

Umm mmm mmm mmm

blues falling down like hail

blues falling down like hail

And the days keeps on worryin' me

there a hellhound on my trail

hellhound on my trail

hellhound on my trail

If today was Christmas eve

If today was Christmas eve

and tomorrow was Christmas day

If today was Christmas eve

and tomorrow was Christmas day

- aow, wouldn't we have a time, baby?

All I would need my little sweet rider just

to pass the time away, huh huh

to pass the time away

You sprinkled hot foot powder, mmm

mmm, around my door

all around my door

You sprinkled hot foot powder

all around your daddy's door, hmm hmm hmm

It keep me with ramblin' mind, rider

every old place I go

every old place I go

I can tell the wind is risin'

the leaves tremblin' on the tree

tremblin' on the tree

hmmm hmmm hmm

All I need's my little sweet woman

and to keep my company, hey hey hey hey

my company.

And if anyone hasn't heard this: Go and have a listen at the first opportunity. You haven't heard a blues until you've heard this one.

Edited by Otto Masson
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Ah ha! You WOULD expect the official lyrics to be on the official sleeve UNLESS the band in question is Led Zeppelin. Then all bets are off. :lol:;)

A couple of things I'm thinking:

To me, the lyrics Robert sings on the record just don't sound like the lyrics printed on the sleeve. Do they sound the same to you? Robert has the sort of singing style that lends itself to confusion where lyrics come in, but to me, the two really don't seem to match.

What is a high hopes hailla ball, anyway? For that matter, how could the movement you need be on your shoulder? ...ok, I guess that's a question for another thread. :D

In response to a post once about Robert compiling the true lyrics of Zep songs into a lyric book, Knebby said something to the effect that Robert has a bad memory and probably couldn't remember the lyrics he sang at the time the Zep records were recorded in order to do so. I wonder if the same applies to this particular lyric? I wonder if he couldn't actually remember what he sang, and he just made up something for the record company to print on the sleeve?

I know I'm kind of rambling, but those are some of my thoughts. What do you think?

He def. doesn't say what's printed on the sleeve! And in live versions, he really emphasizes the "hell" part (like on the dvd). I don't know about the "f" sound--it's hard to hear on the studio version, but then again, RP changes lyrics around in live versions as well, so could be headed forth on the studio and something else live.

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When I made those previous posts I must admit that I hadn't listened to The Ocean in quite some time...I just basically whipped out the album sleeve and copied down the lyrics. However after listening to it, he doesn't say "high hopes". But I really down think he says "hell hound" either. It sounds more like "hell high".

I think it could then say "lovers ball". I listened to the DVD version as well and I think he says "hell high". I can't make out hellhound really.

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To me it sounds like he says "Got a date I can't be late, cause it's hell I'm headed for"

This would seem that he has a date with the devil and doesn't really want to be late for it. (fancy dinner perhaps?) Mind you I don't personally think that they had some kind of deal with the devil, I just found it interesting because it sounds nothing like High hopes hailla ball.

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"...I got a date I can't be late for the __________________?"

We all know the official lyric sheet on the album cover lists it as 'high hopes hailla ball,' but to my loud-music-beaten ears it sounds nothing like it.

Sounds more like:

"for the hell I'm head for,"

"for the hellfire that must fall"

"for the hellfire and its spore"* (hence the mushroom reference in the flick?)

"for the hellhound and its spawn"

Any thoughts?

I would bet in "for the hellhound and its spawn".

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