‘Never Since I’ve Been Losing My Mind’

Led Zeppelin pops up on Plain or Pan? when Simple Kid samples the Zep cover of the Robert Johnson classic ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’:

“Pretty good I thought. And pretty cheeky. Cos it’s not like Led Zeppelin are going to sue him. After all, they’ve made a career out of ripping off the old blues guys and crediting everything to Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones. Even their version of ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’ is credited to Page, Plant and Johnson. But I’ve never been able to hear where they enhanced the original. Unless you count the drums. “

Hit Plain or Pan to listen to the two songs in question. Good stuff.

I was a huuuge Led Zeppelin fan growing up. One of my best Christmas presents ever was the ten-CD Zeppelin box set. I dubbed both halves of Physical Graffiti onto one of those 140-minute tapes and wore it out in my Walkman.

Graffiti was my favorite Zep album, but my favorite song was ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’, off of III. Senior year, when they came around to gather song requests for the prom — no guarantees that it would get played — what was my one pick?

My senior prom was in May ’96. 1996. Think about the juicy potential choices recorded during the years I spent in high school and junior high — some of which actually might have made it to the dance floor. But no, I requested 1970’s ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’. (It was not played.)

Many years later, I hear another blues-rock song, ‘Are You Losing Your Mind?’ by the legendary Buddy Guy. I was floored — it’s the same song.

Now, Buddy Guy’s sole recording of ‘Are You Losing Your Mind?’, as best I can tell, is from a concert in 1979, wheras Zep debuted ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ in 1970. In his liner notes, Ol’ Buddy has the songwriting credit. Maybe Buddy was performing this tune live for a decade and Zeppelin borrowed it (unlikely), or maybe Mr. Guy woke up one day in the late 70’s and decided to bite from Jimmy Page (also unlikely, right?) Could a third, common source be at work?

Allmusic has the scoop — it was… obscure San Francisco psychedelia band Moby Grape?

The debt that ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ owes to Moby Grape’s ‘Never’ is apparently well-documented. But I can’t find a mention of Buddy Guy’s version anywhere. This doesn’t answer the question, it just replaces Zep with Grape.

Never is the first song on Grape Jam, which was recorded over a long lazy session of improvisation. I’m no expert on jammin’, but my understanding is that it’s not at all unusual to start out with a standard that everyone knows to warm things up. Could that be what happened here? Could there be a fourth, original, version of this song, performed tracelessly at blues clubs in Chicago or Fillmore — or passed around the campfire — years before 1968, an underground standard that all three of these songs pulled from?

Or did Buddy Guy, like Simple Kid, just rip the tune off in turn from some English plagiarizers, as some sort of karmic payback for their prior appropriations?

I will continue to look into this. How, I’m not quite sure. Anyone have Mr. Guy’s phone number?

Explore posts in the same categories: Music, Race, YouTube

2 Comments on “‘Never Since I’ve Been Losing My Mind’”

  1. philspector Says:

    Thanks for the link. You might be interested in the brilliant cover of ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come’ that I’ll be posting in the next few days…..

  2. Dewb Says:

    You’re welcome! Thanks for the heads up, that’s another one of my Zeppelin favorites.

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