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"You Need Love"
Single by Muddy Waters
B-side"Little Brown Bird"
RecordedChicago, July & October 12, 1962 [1]
Genre Blues
Label Chess
Songwriter(s) Willie Dixon
Muddy Waters singles chronology
" You Shook Me"
"You Need Love"
" Five Long Years"

"You Need Love" is a song with lyrics written by American blues musician Willie Dixon. The instrumentation was first recorded by slide guitarist Earl Hooker with backing musicians. Chicago blues artist Muddy Waters later overdubbed vocals and Chess Records released it as a single in 1962.

The song has since been covered by other artists, including the Small Faces, retitled "You Need Loving". Led Zeppelin subsequently adapted aspects from both renditions for their 1969 hit " Whole Lotta Love", which prompted Dixon to file a lawsuit against them in 1985, after his daughter heard it. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Muddy Waters song


Similar to his previous single, " You Shook Me", Muddy Waters dubbed his vocals onto a backing track, a formula also followed for "Little Brown Bird" and "Black Angel". [6] In July 1962, Chess Records owner Leonard Chess contacted blues slide guitarist Earl Hooker to record additional tunes for a new record by Waters. However, Waters was on tour in Ohio, and during his absence, Hooker and the group cut three instrumental backing tracks. [7] Besides Hooker and organist Big Moose Walker, there are different accounts of who provided the instrumental backing. On October 12, 1962, Waters overdubbed his vocals. [8] Of the three recordings cut that day, "Black Angel" remains unissued.

The vocals are apparently derived from several earlier songs by Waters, such as " Rollin' Stone", "Still a Fool" and "She's Alright". [9] The song is based on a guitar riff in the key of E minor. [9] Marie Dixon, Willie Dixon's wife insists that the songs is specially about her:

I felt that was more close to me that he wrote is “You Need Love.” If you listen to those words, I feel that. 'You’re frettin’, I’m pettin’, you need love' that would be more soothing to me, more fitting to me that he wrote. And he had a way of speaking to you through his songs. And I feel that that may have been the one. I’ve always said that that was the one he sort of built the story around me.

— Marie Dixon, Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues pg. 193


Chess first released the song on a 7-inch single, backed with "Little Brown Bird" in 1962. Although a November 10, 1962, review in Billboard indicated its sales potential, [10] the single failed to reach the magazine's charts. In the United Kingdom, the single was subsequently withdrawn and replaced by a four-track EP with "Little Brown Bird", " You Shook Me" and "Muddy Waters Twist". The EP was a favorite of Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck during their teenage years. [11]


Additional musicians may include: [1] [8] [12]

Small Faces version

"You Need Loving"
Song by Small Faces
from the album Small Faces
ReleasedMay 11, 1966 (1966-05-11)
RecordedFebruary 1966
Studio IBC, London
Label Decca
Audio sample
"You Need Loving"

Three years after its initial release, East London band Small Faces released the track as "You Need Loving" for their eponymous debut album in 1966. [2] [13] The tune, which was a largely improvisational jam by the group, had been a part of their live repertoire along with other rhythm and blues songs since they formed, and was therefore popular with the mod subculture of the 1960s. [14] At the time, their setlist consisted of about five songs, two originals by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, "E Too D and "Come On Children". The remaining songs were " Ooh Poo Pah Doo"," Baby Don't You Do It" and "You Need Love". [4] It is also noteworthy for 19-year old Marriott's raw vocals, one of his most well known characteristics. [15] [16]

It was fantastic, I loved it, Muddy Waters recorded it but I couldn't sing like Muddy Waters so it wasn't that much of a nick. I was a high range and Muddy was a low range so I had to figure out how to sing it. So I did and that was our opening number for all the years we were together. Every time we were on stage that was our opening number, unless we had a short set.

—  Steve Marriott, Steve Marriott: All Too Beautiful... pg. 78

The opening verse of the Muddy Waters' original was not included anywhere in "You Need Loving", with the Small Faces adding their own bits instead, such as " Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" and "I can't monkey and I can't dog. Can't do the monkey, yeah"

You've got yearnin' and I got burnin'
Baby you look so, ho, sweet and cunnin'
Baby way down inside, woman you need love
Woman you need love, you've got to have some love

— First verse, Muddy Waters, "You Need Love", 1962

In fact, the majority of the track was re-written in order to better fit Marriott's style of singing. The first verse was completely remade by replacing it with an altered version of the last verse found in "You Need Love":

Woah you foolin'
Come and get coolin'
I'm gonna send you right back to school, alright
Make your way down the new side girl
You know how woman, you need lovin', lovin', alright

— First verse, Small Faces, "You Need Loving", 1966

Despite containing several verses found in the original, on original 1966 pressings of the group's debut album, it is only credited to Marriott and Ronnie Lane. [17] Allegedly, this was a business tactic used by Small Faces manager Don Arden in order to get more royalties. In fact, Arden kept the royalties himself, with the band earning only £20 a week, despite multiple top ten entries on the UK Singles Chart. [18] Dixon did not sue Arden or the band, because he did not know of its existence. [19] On most later reissues of the album, Dixon is credited as a songwriter. The group recorded the song live for Saturday Club and can be found on the compilation album The BBC Sessions. [20]


Similarities with "Whole Lotta Love"

In 1969, Led Zeppelin recorded " Whole Lotta Love", a song with some similar lyrics and melody line. It was largely conceived by Jimmy Page, but is credited to the entire band. [21] Lyrically however, the song refers to "You Need Love" [22]

You need cooling
Baby I'm not fooling
I'm gonna send ya
Back to schoolin'

— Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love", 1969

Vocally, lead singer Robert Plant phrases the song in the style of Marriott, similar to "You Need Loving". [5] [16] [23] Marriott said, "He sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same". [24] [25] Marriott said both Page and Plant attended Small Faces concerts: "That’s where Jimmy Page and Robert Plant heard it. Robert Plant used to follow us around. He was like a fan." [26] [27]

Plant eventually apologised to Marriott in a backstage encounter during the 1970s. [13] However, Marriott liked "Whole Lotta Love", and the first time he heard it he reportedly shouted "Go on, my son!" [28] In 1985, Dixon filed a lawsuit against the group after his daughter brought it to his attention. [19] [9] [16]

I ultimately learned ... about the “Whole Lotta Love,” because I was typing those songs, and he taught me to write music. So I immediately could recognize one of his songs. He taught me the lyric structure and he taught me the music. So, you know, it became obvious to me after a while listened and listened. I was at girlfriend’s house, and the song came on the radio. And I said, “You know what? That’s my dad’s song.” And she says, "The song is probably as old as you are (I was thirteen, then), and let’s see I’ve got the album,” she said, “If they’ve got your dad’s name on it ..." She said to me, “Well, they’ve got another song on here that your dad wrote, " I Can't Quit You Baby", but that’s ["Whole Lotta Love"] not his song. I said, "Oh, yes it is." And she said, "Have you ever heard him singing it?" I said, "No, I haven’t, but he taught me how to write. And I see a similar pattern, either he wrote it or it’s twained [sic], and that’s why."

— Shirli Dixon, Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues pg. 193

The case was eventually settled out of court and on all reissues of Led Zeppelin II, Dixon is credited as a co-writer on the track. [29] [16] [30] Page has repeatedly objected to claims that the composition was plagiarized, insisting that only the lyrics were. [31]

Some people said later that “Whole Lotta Love” was based on Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” and the Small Faces’ “You Need Loving”. My riff – the basis for the entire song – sounds nothing like either of them. Robert had referenced the Dixon lyrics because with my riff, they felt right. This eventually forced us to give Dixon a cocredit on our song. But if you take Robert’s vocal out, there’s no musical reference to either song.

— Marc Myers, How one of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits was made, Business Insider

Plant later complained, [22] [32]

Page's riff was Page's riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, 'well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that ... well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game.

— Robert Plant, Musician Issue 135-140. p. 45

Other covers

See also



  1. ^ a b Wight, Phil; Rothwell, Fred (1991). "The Complete Muddy Waters discography" (PDF). Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Small Faces [Decca] – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Inaba 2011, p. 194.
  4. ^ a b Hewitt & Hellier 2004, p. 77.
  5. ^ a b Hann, Michael (April 12, 2016). "Yes, Led Zeppelin took from other people's records – but then they transformed them". The Guardian. ISSN  0261-3077. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Inaba 2011, p. 283.
  7. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar (2011-11-03). Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century. Canongate Books. ISBN  978-0-85786-204-4.
  8. ^ a b Danchin 2001, p. 139.
  9. ^ a b c Inaba 2011, p. 193.
  10. ^ "Spotlight Singles of the Week". Billboard. Vol. 74, no. 49. November 10, 1962. p. 48. ISSN  0006-2510.
  11. ^ Wall 2010, p. 57.
  12. ^ Chess 1989, p. 29.
  13. ^ a b Twelker & Schmitt 2011, p. 33.
  14. ^ "Room for Ravers: Small Faces Story Part 2". Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  15. ^ "'Steve Marriott Was Unbelievable' – More on One of Classic Rock's Star Singers". July 4, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-04-11. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d Stanley, Evan. "The Most Important Song You've Never Heard". epicrights. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  17. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Adam Lambert's 'Whole Lotta Love': The Story Behind The Cover". MTV News. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  18. ^ Muise 2002, p. 91.
  19. ^ a b DeGroot, Joey (May 20, 2014). "7 Songs That Led Zeppelin Ripped Off". Music Times. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Unterbereger, Richie. "Small Faces: BBC Sessions: 1965-1968 – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  21. ^ Myers, Marc (May 29, 2014). "The Making of Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Edwards, Gavin (2016-06-22). "Led Zeppelin's 10 Boldest Rip-Offs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  23. ^ Lewis 1990, p. 57.
  24. ^ Wall 2010, p. 149.
  25. ^ Calef, Scott (2011-08-31). Led Zeppelin and Philosophy: All Will Be Revealed. Open Court. ISBN  978-0-8126-9776-6.
  26. ^ Hewitt & Hellier 2004, p. 78.
  27. ^ Milward, John (2013-06-11). Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock 'n' Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues). UPNE. ISBN  978-1-55553-744-9.
  28. ^ Hewitt & Hellier 2004, p. 204.
  29. ^ Lewis 1990, p. 47.
  30. ^ Torres, Libby. "35 artists whose hits were accused of ripping off other songs". Insider. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  31. ^ Myers, Marc. "How one of Led Zeppelin's greatest hits was made". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  32. ^ Young, Charles (1990). "Robert Plant's Manic Persona". Musician. Amordian Press: 45. ISSN  0733-5253.
  33. ^ Farley, Keith. "Savoy Brown: Getting to The Point – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  34. ^ Celmins, Martin; Wat, Jeff (2001). "Savoy Brown: The Early Years". Savoy Brown. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  35. ^ "Live At The Basement (with The Hoochie Coochie Men)". Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  36. ^ "Fleetwood Mac BBC | Folkrocks". Archived from the original on 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2020-11-24.


External links