Nobody’s fault but mine

Last year at about this time I had my rock and roll debut at the EMP’s Liquid Lounge. I’m returning with some of the same musicians this year for additional holiday party musical jam goodness. I get to go a little further afield this year, doing backing vocals on a bunch of rockabilly, Motown, and country/bluegrass tunes. And then some lead vocals, this year on a cover of Led Zeppelin’s version of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

“Nobody’s Fault” is a really old song that I am still coming to terms with. The earliest recording I’m aware of is the Blind Willie Johnson version from 1927, which is a straightforward gospel lyric (“I have a Bible I can read/If I don’t read then my soul be lost/Nobody’s fault but mine) given a growling, urgent delivery with a slashing slide guitar accompaniment. When Page and Plant turned their attention to the song in the mid-seventies, the instrumentals were turned up to 11, and Page wrote new lyrics that describe a battle with&8212;what? Addiction, possibly, or the life of excess he was leading in general. Add to that the controversy in the traditional blues world about Zep’s refusal to credit Johnson for the song (on Presence, it’s credited to Page and Plant, and Plant has said that the song was “public domain because he’s been dead so long”), and there are about a million ways you could go in performing this song.

So there are going to be some challenges, but I think it should be tremendous. I’m working with two fantastic guitarists with George Bullock and Don Chappell, and if I can just get some rehearsal time so I don’t shred my vocal chords going for the high A on every chorus I’ll be all set.