What does When The Levee Breaks mean?

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Led Zeppelin: When The Levee Breaks Meaning


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When The Levee Breaks Lyrics

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

Mean old levee
Taught me to weep and moan
Boy, mean old levee
Taught me to weep and moan


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    May 30th 2007 report

    The song is a cover of an old blues tune by "Kansas" Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, which was about the mass upheaval of people from the Mississippi River area following the 1927 flood, and how the African Americans were put into a state of almost slave labor in trying to keep the floodwaters from spreading by the local and state gov'ts at the time. The "Don't it make ya feel bad...Chicago" were added by Plant. Clear as day, this is the man going back home, or at least where his home once was, only to find nothing is left. "Don't it make ya feel bad when you're trying to find your way home, but ya don't know which way to go?" = Since the area is a vast, flat wasteland it becomes hard to not only find your way, but in a deeper sense, that you can't find what you once called "home." "If you're goin down south, they've got no work to do" = now that nothing's left, there's no available jobs. "if you don't know about Chicago" = "if you don't know about the Chicago blues scene". He's saying Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie lost their jobs in the delta, so they moved to Chicago and started playing blues there. The "goin to chicago" only blatantly furthers this idea.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 22nd 2007 report

    It is a cover from an old american blues song, and to me it pretty much means that the rain is bad events and the levee is one's personal ability to cope with these problems. "If it keeps on raining the levee's gonna break"... can't say I haven't felt like that before!

  3. anonymous
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    Oct 13th 2020 report

    Much of this is spot on. Zep added the Chicago reference--not in the original--which really adds to the song's power. The breaking of the levee plus the powerful rock illustrates the vast forces pushing African Americans out of the South and into the "warmth of other suns." My only complaint is that Zep kept the "mountain man" reference. There are no mountains in the delta! Sheesh! This was an old-fashioned euphemism for "colored man." Compare "country boy" in "Johnny Be Good."

  4. anonymous
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    Oct 17th 2018 report

    it's about the female orgasm...and is a great sex song.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  5. anonymous
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    Feb 16th 2015 report

    This is in fact a refence to the great 27 flood. Led Zep is notorious for stealing lyrics and this is one of their stolen songs.

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 21st 2012 report

    well some people hit on some of the themes of the song, but without understanding all of the lyrics and listening instead to the music, it always seems to me like the guy was forced to work on the levees and was trying to find his family. He figures there was no work for them south so he has to go to Chicago to find his family. (the flood of 1927 which really did happen) also seemed to be the start of the great migration of poor blacks people that moved from down in the delta (where they were originally brought as slaves) to the Midwest where they were getting much better paying jobs in manufacturing.

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 27th 2011 report

    During the Mississippi flood in 1927 African American plantation workers were forced to blockade the houses and plantations at gunpoint. They also had to help reform, and fix any thing damaged by the flood. Slaves were deprived of most food and supplies while doing so. Endangering many lives because they were not considered human to protect the landowners’ homes and families.

  8. wsburrows
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    Sep 19th 2011 report

    They didn't give Memphis Minnie due credit, but Plant later would introduce Gallow's Pole as an old English song that was adopted by slaves in the south, so the blues is all about borrowing, as Johnny "Clyde" Copeland told me one cold New Year's Eve between sets, sharing a number. Mushrooms were involved.

  9. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2011 report

    Maybe Led Zeppelin could relate to what happened with Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy when they had to move from the Delta. Led Zeppelin was very mistreated in Great Britain, so they had to "Move" their band to play in America and focus on America. Led Zeppelin had an extreme fetish with America.

    That is why they played this song like the blues but added a rock flavor to it that gave it a sort of 70's sound. The fact that the song was produced so heavily in the studio that it was hard to reproduce live shows the shear amount of electrical effects and other stuff otherwise used in the song. They could relate their struggle in Great Britain with the tax exile status as a flood of problems in their own country to what happened with Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 17th 2011 report

    About the Mississippi flood in I think 1948. It is a blues standard.

  11. CHAD
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    Nov 5th 2008 report

    This is an old blues song,much like the many others that influenced british rock musicians of the sixties and seventies.

  12. joeshmo
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    Oct 8th 2007 report

    Chicago is the place to go when the levee breaks.
    Even if you're up in the mountains, this levee has what it takes for a mountain man to leave his home.


    Look at the mountain man on the inside sleeve of the album. What kind of star is lit in his lantern?

    Yes, a JEWISH star.

    This poor fool will be hit by the ice that falls from the sky.

    The Levee is at the top of the sky.

    Google "megacryometeors".

    If it keeps on raining these chunks of ice, the levee gonna break.

    Where shall we go?


    Be there by June 1, 2008 or be dead.

  13. ringo
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    Jun 13th 2006 report

    The lyrics were actually, "When the Chevy breaks". Led Zeppelin purchased a 1971 Chevy Vega that turned out to be a lemon.....as all of them were.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  14. anonymous
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    Apr 14th 2006 report

    Definite double meaning there about "going down south" and the "levy breaking" being enough to make a moutain man leave his home. I know I ain't going down south when the levy breaks and I don't mean New Orleans.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    Mar 17th 2006 report

    It's about New Orleans, when the Levee broke, LOL!

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. crutchead
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    Jan 31st 2006 report

    I think I've got an idea what this song's about (twas actually written by the four members of Zep with a certain guy named Minnie), but I'm afraid that some people who seem to know better but have no ability to interpret a song might get offended.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
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    Jan 29th 2006 report

    Interpetation of Zeppelin's Lyrics? HA!, I am a big a Zeppelin as any man alive, but here what they meant does not matter, it is a cover of a 1920's American blues song.

‹ prev 12

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