Single Stories: Led Zeppelin, “Good Times, Bad Times”

Friday, April 19, 2019
Led Zeppelin Album Cover

It was April 19, 1969, when Led Zeppelin’s first single hit its chart high on the Billboard 100, and let’s just say that as highs go, it was pretty darned low. But, hey, let’s keep our expectations in check, shall we? It was their first single, taken from their first album, and it was released at a time when they’d played less than 20 shows in America. Frankly, the fact that it charted at all is rather impressive.

Produced by Jimmy Page and written by the band as a whole, “Good Times, Bad Times” was the opening track of LED ZEPPELIN, and it was a heck of a way to introduce the band. Bassist John Paul Jones has said in the past that the riff for the song was among the most difficult to write in his entire career, and Page’s guitar solo was pretty distinctive in its own right, having been achieved by feeding the output from his Fender Telecaster through a Leslie Speaker.

“Good Times, Bad Times” was never favored by the band as a live staple. Indeed, it was almost never played in its entirety, instead being melded with “Communication Breakdown.” Still, its placement on the band’s debut album made it a perfect track to serve as the opening number when they performed at the O2 Arena in 2007.

Oh, right, we never got back to that single: “Good Times, Bad Times” hit #80 on this date in 1969, after which it quickly tumbled off the chart. Don’t worry, though: it’s been a staple on classic rock radio ever since, which is about as happy an ending as a hard rock track could hope for.