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Led Zeppelin’s defining song – obscene, brutish and utterly awesome. “Way down inside,” squeals Robert Plant, “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love” – adding, “I wanna be your backdoor man!” just for extra romance. The midsection is a black-light head trip, a tornado of orgasmic moans, cymbal teases and shivering theremin foreplay, all magnified by wild stereo-panning. Page’s pumping riff – made with a metal slide and augmented with some backward echo – is one of the most straightforwardly bruising to ever come out of a Les Paul, and John Paul Jones and John Bonham back it up thrust for thrust. Said Page, “Usually my riffs are pretty damn original. What can I say?”

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

A-way down inside
A-honey you need it
I'm gonna give you my love
I'm gonna give you my love

Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love

You've been learning
Um baby I been learning
All them good times baby, baby
I've been year-yearning

A-way, way down inside
A-honey you need-ah
I'm gonna give you my love, ah
I'm gonna give you my love, ah oh

Whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love

You've been cooling
And baby I've been drooling
All the good times, baby
I've been misusing

A-way, way down inside
I'm gonna give ya my love
I'm gonna give ya every inch of my love
I'm gonna give ya my love

Hey!
Alright! Let's go!

Whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love
Want to whole lotta love

Way down inside
Woman, you need, yeah
Love

My, my, my, my
My, my, my, my
Lord
Shake for me girl

I wanna be your backdoor man
Hey, oh, hey, oh
Hey, oh, hey, oh
Ooh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

Cool, my, my baby
A-keep it cooling baby
A-keep it cooling baby
Ah-keep it cooling baby
Ah-keep it cooling baby
Ah-keep it cooling baby

Their Mistake Created One of the More Intriguing Sections of This Song 

 

One of the more intriguing sections of this song comes at the 4-minute mark, where the distant voice of Robert Plant sings each line ("Way down inside... woman... you need... love") before his full-throated vocal comes in. This is known as "backward echo," and one of the first uses of the technique, but it happened by accident: A different take of Plant's vocal bled over to his master vocal track, so when Page and engineer Eddie Kramer mixed the song, they couldn't get rid of it. They did what most creative professionals do with a mistake: they accentuated it to make it sound intentional, adding reverb to it so Plant sounded like he was foreshadowing his lines from afar.

"Shake for Me Girl, I Wanna be Your Back Door Man" is a Reference to the "Back Door Man" of Blues Cliché

 

The line, "Shake for me girl, I wanna be your back door man" is a reference to the "back door man" of blues cliché (popularized in a Willie Dixon song). This guy enters and leaves through the back door to avoid detection, as the lady is using him to cheat on her boyfriend or husband. This adds an illicit edge to the storyline.

Plants Lyrics are Based on a 1962 Muddy Waters Song

 

Plant's lyrics are based on a 1962 Muddy Waters song written by Willie Dixon called "You Need Love," where Waters sings:

I ain't foolin', you need schoolin'
Baby, you know you need coolin'
Woman, way down inside

The band reached an agreement with Dixon, who used the settlement money to set up a program providing instruments for schools.

The 1966 Small Faces song "You Need Loving" also coped from Dixon's song, and those lyrics are more similar to what Plant used. In that one, Steve Marriott sings:

I ain't foolin', woman you need coolin'
I'm gonna send you, right back to schoolin'
Way down inside your heart, woman
You need lovin'

WHOLE LOTTA LOVE