Jimmy Page Hits a Grease Patch

Led Zeppelin’s “Hot Dog” is probably a throwaway: an album track, 45 B Side, and a little hateful and sexist. Robert Plant sings about defiling a 17 year old girl and, how, when he finds her, he’s “gonna give her something she’s never had before.” It’s garbage. It’s awful. And yet: the guitar solo. The guitar track itself– really, the whole track with the exception of that lyric– is awesome: 50s playing filtered through 70s rock overdrive. It’s a drunken punch: way behind the beat, then ahead of the beat, then inside the beat. The solo starts with a variation on the opening guitar run– the head– and then swerves as if it’s hit a grease patch; flying towards ungettable frets with unplayable parts that, of course, are played. Jimmy Page was none too precious in his over-dubs and layering– he was always delightfully sloppy when he had to be– and here, there are blights and splotches everywhere, making the part all the more endearing. After abandoning the idea of extending the run, he farts a few chords over and over; a last call tipping-over-the-glass gesture where everything is spilled across the mix. The fallibility makes you cheer for the player– the virtuoso player– struggling to get to the end. He picks up the run after the chording and climbs, remarkably, back up the ladder. It’s like watching a drunk executing a trick, and you expect him to get concussed or draw blood, but they don’t. They’re back at the bar, barely upright, but celebratory. The A Side of this 45 is “Fool in the Rain,” which is fine, but on “Hot Dog,” Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page aren’t trying to prove their mastery. Instead, they’re proving how shit they can be. And Hallelujah to that.

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