Led Zeppelin for you, doing their job to spread the Western canon. This song is hundreds of years old and has roots and variations from Finland to Wales. There are countless versions, in which a condemned thief or adulterer or kidnappee bargains for his or her life, offering gold or silver or animals or sexual favors from his or her father or mother or sister or brother or fiancee, to either be set free or get hanged anyway. In the most common European iterations the condemned is a maiden whose family members arrive one by one to watch her hang, until her fiancee saves the day in the last verse. Americans have favored it with a male narrator, presumably because we don’t hold much truck with hanging women, unless they be witches. Though a folk song is open to infinite interpretations, Led Zeppelin’s has come to the forefront as definitive (for now). They, most likely were drawing inspiration from blues forebear Leadbelly, and where he picked it up no one knows. Those most familiar covers make it seem like part of the blues tradition, but it’s much older than that, which doesn’t make it not blues, either.