No. 28, ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ – Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs
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This song began as a spiritual, before being adapted into an early blues by Blind Willie Johnson in the ’20s, but it couldn’t have been further from there by the time our choice for entry No. 28 on our list of the Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs emerged on the group’s underrated return to their roots on 1976’s ‘Presence.’
It’s not just that Robert Plant changed some of the lyrics, adding the stuttering “I got a mah-mah-mah-monkey on my back, back, back,” for instance. Together with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, Plant transformed the stop-start ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ into a rugged, brilliantly layered piece filled with visceral heavy-rocking danger — and no small amount of mystery.
Settling in with sorcerer’s riff from Page, ‘Nobody’s Fault’ proceeds to unload one of Bonham and Jones’ most damaging rhythms. Turn this song up too loud, and it could bring down the building you’re standing in. Plant, meanwhile, is at his coiled best — howling, cooing and stammering with a doomy grit, then echoing that strangely enigmatic opening guitar riff. When Plant switches to harmonica, as Bonham begins doing physical damage to his kit, it’s with a volcanic fury.
‘Nobody’s Fault by Mine’ is, by its conclusion, a triumph of remembrance, in that after a lengthy period of experimentation in a broad variety of other musical styles, Led Zeppelin had returned to its foundational sound, blending bone-deep Delta styles with their uniquely thunderous modern approach. Nobody did it better, and this song proved it.