Originally Performed ByLed Zeppelin
Original AlbumLed Zeppelin II (1969)
VocalsTrey, Page
Phish Debut2010-10-30
Last Played2013-07-16
Current Gap445
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)


There comes a time in every man’s life when a relationship ends long before he expected or wanted it to occur.  That “Heartbreaker” has just gone away and left him flat.  Faced with this unfathomable loss, he could wallow in self pity and spiral into depression, or he can accept the naked truth of the matter and move resolutely forward into a bright new future, with “Head Held High.”  In time - “Ten Years Gone” - the old wound is healed, and all is seemingly right with the world.  Unless of course that mistress of the wicked ways of love returns to town and their paths cross once more.  

Such is the tale told in the Led Zeppelin proto-metal masterpiece “Heartbreaker.”  Annie, the lady in question, is back in town and little Robert Anthony is letting everybody in on the news.  Even though he knows full well that all the other fellas will be more than happy to lay their money down for a little piece of Annie’s time.  It seems the scorned lover himself is unable to resist her charms, at least until she calls out the name of another man in the midst of their passionate encounter.  He is able to man up and declare that her time has come.  He sends her off on her evil way...banishing her to Coventry.

Led Zeppelin wrote and recorded “Heartbreaker,” much like the rest of the songs on the “Brown Bomber” (AKA Led Zeppelin II), while on tours of Europe and the United States in early 1969.  The session which produced “Heartbreaker” was at A&R Studios in New York at the end of their second US tour which culminated in a two night run (5/30 and 5/31/69) at the Fillmore East.  The raw crunch of this track marks the point in Jimmy Page’s career when the Gibson Les Paul became his weapon of choice.  The first known live performance of “Heartbreaker” was 10/10/69 at the Olympia in Paris, shortly before the album was released.  From that point on “Heartbreaker” was one of only two songs (“Communication Breakdown” being the other) that was featured at least once during every year Led Zeppelin was on tour.

Led Zeppelin “Heartbreaker” 8/6/79 Knebworth, UK

Phish performed an abridged (where is that confounded bridge?) version of “Heartbreaker” during their second set “TweeZeppelin” medley on the second night (10/30/10) of Halloween weekend festivities at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.  The medley, in addition to “Heartbreaker,” contained a tease of “Whole Lotta Love,” most of “Ramble On,” a terse  “Thank You,” and the transcendent finale of “Stairway to Heaven.”  Trey and Page shared the vocal duties, yet together were largely (“Thank You” being the exception) unable to match the sonic gymnastics of Robert Plant; demonstrating quite clearly why this medley may be as close as we will ever get to Phish covering a Led Zeppelin album for Halloween.  Considering that each of the songs featured in the medley except “Stairway to Heaven” appear on Led Zeppelin II, it may actually have been an alternate album considered for the Halloween Costume set at Boardwalk Hall, only to be abandoned due to the inherent vocal challenges it presents.

Although the prospect of never hearing Phish cover Led Zeppelin again may leave some of you alone and blue; sometimes it is best to let the love of your life go.  To cling to an ideal of what might have been is fruitless, when there are so many other better suited albums from which to choose.  Phish tried to make love to you, tried to make love, but it ain’t no use....go away, “Heartbreaker!”

”TweeZeppelin” 10/30/10 Atlantic City, NJ

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