Gallows Pole (4:56)

Cover of Led Zeppelin III

From Led Zeppelin III and 11 other releases

This is based on an old Blues song called “Gallis Pole,” which was popularized by Leadbelly. The song is considered “Traditional,” meaning the author is unknown. Jimmy Page got the idea for this after hearing the version by California folk singer Fred Gerlach.

The lyrics are about a man trying to delay his hanging until his friends and family can rescue him. Although there are many versions of this song, Led Zeppelin’s is unusual in that it ends with the hangman hanging the protagonist despite all of his bribes. Most other versions end with the hangman setting the protagonist free.

A similar folk song called “Slack Your Rope” was sung by an Arkansan named Jimmie Driftwood. He adapted the words from a fifteenth century British Ballad when any crime could be paid off with money right up to the last step of the gallows. In his version, the criminal is definitely a woman and her lover rides up and pays her fee.

This is the only Led Zeppelin song that features a banjo. Jimmy Page wrote it on a banjo he borrowed from John Paul Jones. He had never played the banjo before.

Page played the 6 and 12-string guitars as well as the banjo on this. Jones played mandolin and bass.

This is Page’s favorite song on Led Zeppelin III.

The band used some lines from this on their 1975 song “Trampled Underfoot.”

This is a rare Led Zeppelin song that speeds up as it goes along, a technique Jimmy Page also used on “Stairway To Heaven.”


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Albums featuring this track (12)

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  • aneuronal

    Swingin' on the Gallows Pole! Swingin' on the Gallows Pole! Swingin' on the Gallows Pole! Swingin' on the Gallows Pole, Pole, Pole, Pole, Pole, Pole, Pole, yeah

    22 May 11:25pm Reply
  • csrog69

    One of their best albums

    10 May 9:10am Reply
  • FjordSweetFjord

    LZ at their best, doesn't get much better than this!! :D

    19 Jan 3:09pm Reply
  • RAY7654321

    Listening to "Led Zeppelin III" released on October 5, 1970. Many of the songs featured on the album were conceived in mid-1970 at Bron-Yr-Aur, an 18th-century cottage in Gwynedd, Wales, on a hilltop overlooking the Dyfi Valley, three miles north of the market town Machynlleth. This set the tone for this masterpiece of music. No electric or running water, Page & Plant where roughing it(LOL), they only had a staff of 7. Song is traditional arranged by Page & Plant.

    3 Dec 2014 Reply
  • Willi_1960

    Klasse Musik

    17 Nov 2014 Reply
  • tj3son

    4 very talented musicians...........makes great music..........

    17 Sep 2014 Reply
  • tgb89


    29 Aug 2014 Reply
  • gdcman

    Country? Rascall Flatts won't be recording this in the near future.

    22 Jun 2014 Reply
  • crs16520

    This song is actually a traditional folk song...I remember early on as a youngster a girl one grade behind me in elementary school sang this in a tatent show; did a nice job of it as I recall.

    31 May 2014 Reply
  • Thatess


    11 May 2014 Reply
  • OrdealByFire

    One of their most underrated tracks.

    16 Mar 2014 Reply
  • yerbyderby

    Critics said, that Led Zeppelin had lost their rock sound in this album. Ah, what the heck!

    17 Feb 2014 Reply
  • martianmonkey

    man does thing bring back the days

    30 Jan 2014 Reply
  • wahyuillahi

    love Classik Rock #yeaaaa

    30 Jan 2014 Reply
  • katybdi

    i dont like country, but what a surprise!! I'm loving the country sound to this song! wonderful!

    19 Nov 2013 Reply
  • gmac1993

    Favorite Led Zep song

    2 Nov 2013 Reply
  • DonnaYuengling


    29 Oct 2013 Reply
  • Macieq1989

    1:37 damnn

    8 Sep 2013 Reply
  • jamado87

    I love this lyric.

    29 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Tom_Pullings

    great beat. Swing it Holly!

    12 Jul 2013 Reply
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