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When the Levee Breaks is originally a country blues song written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie (released in 1929) in reference to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that destroyed nearly half of the Mississippi Basin and caused major damage and loss.

Robert Plant presented When the Levee Breaks for consideration by Jimmy Page when Led Zeppelin started work on Led Zeppelin IV. The band tried it out during sessions at Island’s Basing Street studio, but it didn’t work. They tried again once their recording locale had shifted to the country retreat of Headley Grange in east Hampshire.

Between the new locale, re-work, and lyric changes, When the Levee Breaks became the closing track on Led Zeppelin IV (released November 8, 1971). Composer credits are listed as Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Memphis Minnie.

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