Single Stories: Led Zeppelin, D'YER MAK'ER

Monday, March 29, 2021

After stunning the world of rock with the band's instantly classic fourth album, Led Zeppelin delivered a decided change-up upon the release of House of the Holy on March 28, 1973. As Jimmy Page and company explored even more musical influences while expanding the group's sonic range, critics were left confounded.

Led Zeppelin's legions of fans had no problem with the record, snapping up enough copies to send Houses of the Holy straight to the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 for the week of May 12, 1973, where it stayed for two weeks straight.

House of the Holy is famous for featuring that Led Zeppelin rarity: singles. Two of them, in fact. The bucolic rocker "Over the Hills and Far Away" was released on May 23, 1973, in America. The album's second single is also one of the band's most notorious--and divisive--songs: "D'yer Mak'er." Issued as a single on September 17, 1973, in the U.S., the track comes with quite a story. Let's look back with five fun facts...

1. The song is pronounced "Jamaica"
For years, American rock radio DJs were known for called the tune "dire maker." In 2005, radio DJ pioneer Mike Halloran interviewed Robert Plant, and had him clarify the actual pronunciation of the song title. Plant explained how it came from an old English joke: Person A: "My wife's gone to the West Indies." Person B: "Jamaica?" Person A: "No, she went of her own accord."

2. All four members of Led Zeppelin are credited as songwriters on the track
The band's bassist, John Paul Jones, was famously known for not being a fan of the tune at all, considering it a half-baked joke. Still, it's one of the few Led Zeppelin tunes that credits him alongside the three other members of the band as songwriters.

3. Robert Plant was the lone member of the band who thought the song was a hit
The band's singer was adamant that that Led Zeppelin release "D'yer Mak'er" as a single. Even in the UK, where they never issued singles. They took a band vote, and Plant lost 3-1. Led Zeppelin's "no singles in the UK" edict remained intact. The group also never performed the song in its entirety live.

4. Robert Plant was right: the song was a hit
"D'yer Mak'er" was, however, released as a single in America. It rocked right up the charts to peak at #20 on the Hot 100 for the week of December 29, 1973. The #1 song in America that week: Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle." "D'yer Mak'er" has gone on to assume a ubiquitous presence on rock radio ever since. Years later, Axl Rose would cite the hearing the track as the moment "that got me into heavy rock."

5. Jimmy Page was surprised when people didn't "get" the song
It was during a wide-ranging 1977 interview with Trouser Press, the guitarist and music historian seemed befuddled that listeners didn't pick up what Led Zeppelin was trying to lay down with "D'yer Mak'er": "I didn't expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious," Page shrugged. "The song itself was a cross between reggae and '50s number, 'Poor Little Fool,' Ben E. King's things, stuff like that."