The whole concept of rock and roll was never really based on being the most intellectual of genres. Although artists like Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd have put a more cerebral bent on the rock formula in their own way, it doesn’t matter what you sing when you have a good riff in the background. In fact, performers can throw anything over your head if you’re not careful.
Compared to the usual party rock vibe coming from Van Halen, these songs are much darker and more sinister than most would like to admit. Stepping away from the usual realm of city going out, many of these songs take drastic turns towards death, depression, and recreational drug use that you didn’t even know were there at first glance. One minute you are listening to your favorite jam and the next you find out that it is actually something much more fishy than you initially thought.
While these kinds of posts tend to erode the song for some fair weather fans, there is something respectable about artists who want to turn the tide and do something a little more mature for their audience. Once you’ve heard these songs for what they really are, rock doesn’t sound as innocent as it used to be, does it?
At the dawn of rock and roll, all avant-garde aspects of the genre reverted to blues. As much as the tired 12 bar tropes were played at this point, Led Zeppelin was one of the few bands to make it sound new and modern, as Jimmy Page reversed his guitar prowess. Then again, even the simplest blues song can be absolutely dirty.
Stuck in the middle of Led Zeppelin II, the Lemon Song is probably one of the first true blues songs that rock fans discover after George Thorogoods and Stray Cats of the world. It’s all covered in that trademark boast as Robert Plant complains about reciprocity from his lover. If you think it’s actually citrus, you’re probably still on the more innocent side of rock and roll.
Since most of the blues can be traced back to sex music, you can pretty much imply what Plant’s “Lemon” really is, especially when he talks about the juice flowing down his leg. For all we would have known as kids, it might have been just about the lemons, but NO … now Plant has to come in and make things weird. Kudos for trying to hide it … but just because you try doesn’t mean you are successful.