When the Levee Breaks (Kansas Joe McCoy, Memphis Minnie)

registered as composer for the copyright is Joe Mc Coy (without Memphis Minnie!) and also Jon Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) [GEMA]

The song is in reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

Sources:

Wikipedia

Sheet Music:

Morris-Edwin-H-Co Inc

Recordings:

1929 - Kansas Joe McCoy, Memphis Minnie - June 18, 1929 - New York City - W148711=1 Columbia 14439D - Kansas Joe McCoy (voc,g), Memphis Minnie (g) -

1971 - Led Zeppelin - East Hampshire, UK - Dec. 1970 - Atlantic, on: Led Zeppelin IV

1991 - Rosetta Stone - on: An Eye For The Main Chance

1993 - John Campbell - on: Howlin' Mercy

1993 - Nixon, Mojo & The Toadliquors - Safe House, on: The Song Retains the Name, Vol. 2

1993 - W.A.S.P. - Peaceville/Snapper, on: The Crimson Idol

1994 - Kristin Hersh - Sire, on: Strings

1994 - Judge - Revelation, on: Storm

1995 - Leftover Salmon - Oct. 28/29, 1994 - Bert, on: Ask the Fish

1996 - Killdozer & Ritual Device - Man's Ruin, on: When the Levee Breaks

1996 - Zip Code Revue - Amarillo, on: Abundance

1997 - London Philharmonic Orchestra & Scholes - Polygram, on: Kashmir: The Symphonic Led Zeppelin

1999 - Great White - Dec. 1996 - Cleopatra, on: Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin

1999 - James Cotton, Billy Branch, Magic Slim - House of Blues, on: Whole Lotta Blues: Songs of Led Zeppelin

2004 - A Perfect Cricle - Virgin/EMI, on: eMOTIVe

2005 - Iron Horse - CMH, on: Whole Lotta Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Led Zeppelin

2006 - Mare Edstrom - Spiritone, on: Shake 'em on Down

2006 - Stanton Moore - Telarc Distribution, on: III

2006 - Roadsaw - Smallstone, on: Sucking the 70's: Back in the Saddle Again

2006 - Stream of Passion - Inside Out/SPV, on: Out in the Real World

2007 - Frankie Banali & Friends - MVD Audio, on: Led Zeppelin Tribute: 24/7/365

2007 - Paul Jones, Dave Kelly - SPV, on: Live at the Ram Jam Club

2008 - Artimus Pyle, Jimmy Hall - Cleopatra, on: Led Box: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute

2009 - Buckwheat Zydeco - Alligator, on: Lay Your Burden Down

 

see also:

Alger "Texas" Alexander, Lonnie Johnson: Levee Camp Moan Blues (1927)

Charley Patton: High Water Everywhere (1929)

John Lee Hooker: Tupelo - on: The Country Blues Of John Lee Hooker (1959), Chill Out (1995)...

Son House: Levee Moan Blues - on: Father Of The Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions

Randy Newman: Louisiana 1927 - on: Good Old Boys (1974)

Bob Dylan: Crash On the Levee (Down In the Flood) - Columbia, on: The Basement Tapes (1975)

Bob Dylan: High Water (For Charley Patton) - on: Love And Theft (2001)

Bob Dylan: The Levee's Gonna Break - Columbia, on: Modern Times (2006)

File:1927 Mississippi Flood Greenville Missississippi.jpg
27 April 1927. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, Greenville, Mississippi. The river stage was at 46.8 feet. From: "The Floods of 1927 in the Mississippi Basin", Frankenfeld, H.C., 1927 Monthly Weather Review Supplement No. 29. Archival Photography by Steve Nicklas, NOS, NGS

Kansas Joe McCoy, Memphis Minnie:


If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break.
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break.
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay.

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan.
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan.
Thinkin' 'bout my baby and my happy home.

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break.
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break.
And all these people have no place to stay.

Now look here mama what am I to do.
Now look here mama what am I to do.
I ain't got nobody to tell my troubles to.

I works on the levee mama both night and day.
I works on the levee mama both night and day.
I ain't got nobody, keep the water away.

Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good.
Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good.
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to lose.

I works on the levee, mama both night and day.
I works on the levee, mama both night and day.
I works so hard, to keep the water away.

I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me.
I had a woman, she wouldn't do for me.
I'm goin' back to my used to be.

I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan.
I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan.
Gonna leave my baby, and my happy home.

Version Led Zeppelin:

If it keeps on raining levee's going to break.
If it keeps on raining levee's going to break.
When the levee breaks have no place to stay.

Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan.
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan.
It's got what it takes to make a Mountain Man leave his home.

Oh well, oh well, oh well.

Don't it make you feel bad?
When you're trying to find your way home you don't know which way to go?
When you're going down south and there's no work to do
And you're going on to Chicago.

Ah...

Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good.
Now, crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good.
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to go. Oo!

All last night sat on the levee and moaned.
All last night sat on the levee and moaned.
Thinking about my baby and my happy home. Oh!

Ah...

Going - going to Chicago,
Going to Chicago.
Sorry, but I can't take you.

Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down...

Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down - going down, now
Going down
Going dow-, dow-, dow-, dow-, down, now