Terraplane Blues

"Terraplane Blues"
Single by Robert Johnson
B-side "Kind Hearted Woman Blues"[1]
Released March 1937 (1937-03)
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded November 23, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas[1]
Genre Blues
Length 3:01
Label Vocalion (Cat. no. 03416)
Writer(s) Robert Johnson
Producer(s) Don Law (Frank Driggs produced Columbia reissue)
Robert Johnson singles chronology
"Terraplane Blues"
"32-20 Blues"

"Terraplane Blues" is a blues song recorded in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, by bluesman Robert Johnson. "Terraplane Blues" was Johnson's first single and it became a moderate regional hit,[1] selling 5,000 copies.

Johnson used the car model Terraplane as a metaphor for sex. In the lyrical narrative, the car will not start and Johnson suspects that his girlfriend let another man drive it when he was gone. In describing the various mechanical problems with his Terraplane, Johnson creates a setting of thinly veiled sexual innuendo. The guitar parts in "Terraplane Blues" are similar to those in Johnson's "Stones in My Passway".

Other versions and influences

"Terraplane Blues" has been recorded by a variety of artists, including Mickey Baker, Rory Block, Canned Heat, Eric Clapton, Foghat, Peter Green, John Hammond, Jr., John Lee Hooker, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Tony McPhee, Elliott Murphy, Lonnie Pitchford, Paul Pena, and Roy Rogers. Johnson's one-time musical and travelling partner Johnny Shines recorded the song as "Dynaflow Blues". The Led Zeppelin song "Trampled Under Foot" is regarded as a tribute to Johnson's "Terraplane Blues", with Robert Plant using car parts as sexual metaphors.[2]


  1. 1 2 3 Howard Mandel, ed. (2005). The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues. Billboard Books. p. 97. ISBN 0-8230-8266-0.
  2. Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
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