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The Meaning Behind The Song: The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin


“The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin is a classic rock song that has been shrouded in controversy since its release in 1969. Known for its racy lyrics and bluesy sound, the song has come under fire for its allusions to sexual content and plagiarism. However, beyond the controversy lies a deeper meaning that speaks to the band’s influences and experiences.

The Lyrics

The lyrics to “The Lemon Song” are based on several early blues songs, including Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” The song features a variety of sexual innuendos, including references to lemons, juice, and squeezing. However, at its core, the song is about the fleeting nature of love and relationships.

The Lemon Metaphor

One of the most prominent elements of “The Lemon Song” is the use of lemons as a metaphor for a woman’s private parts. While this imagery might seem crude or offensive to some, it was a common trope in blues music during the 1920s and 1930s. Many blues artists of that era used metaphors and innuendos to convey messages that were taboo or controversial at the time.

In “The Lemon Song,” the use of the lemon metaphor is a way of conveying the idea that love and relationships can be bittersweet. Just as a lemon is sour and bitter, so too can love and relationships be fleeting and bitter. However, just as a lemon can be used to make something sweet, love and relationships can also be transformative and enriching.

The Significance of the Blues

One of the key influences on Led Zeppelin’s music was the blues. The members of the band were all huge fans of blues artists like Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters. They saw the blues as a powerful form of expression that spoke to the struggles and hardships of everyday life. By incorporating elements of the blues into their own music, Led Zeppelin was able to create a sound that was both raw and emotional.

“The Lemon Song” is a prime example of the band’s blues influences. The song features a driving bassline, gritty guitar riffs, and soulful vocals that capture the essence of the blues. By drawing on the blues tradition, Led Zeppelin was able to infuse their own music with a sense of authenticity and sincerity that resonated with fans.

The Controversy

Despite its status as a classic rock song, “The Lemon Song” has come under fire in recent years for its allusions to sexual content and plagiarism. In 2016, the estate of blues musician Willie Dixon sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement, claiming that “The Lemon Song” lifted elements from Dixon’s song “You Need Love.”

The lawsuit raised questions about Led Zeppelin’s use of other artists’ work in their own music. Some critics argued that the band had a history of appropriating other people’s ideas without giving proper credit. Others defended the band, saying that borrowing elements from other songs was a common practice in the music industry.


In the end, “The Lemon Song” is a complex and multifaceted piece of music that speaks to a variety of themes and influences. While its lyrics and imagery might be controversial, they are also a reflection of the blues tradition that inspired Led Zeppelin’s music. By drawing on the blues, the band was able to create a sound that was unique and powerful, and that has stood the test of time. Whether you love it or hate it, “The Lemon Song” remains one of the most iconic rock songs of all time.

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