Saturday, April 18, 2009

Focus On...Over The Hills And Far Away

How can you decide to post about the career of Robert Plant and not mention Led Zeppelin in some detail at some point? How I ask you? Well, I guess if I was a bigger fan I would own all his solo albums and could do a post about that. But I'm not enough of a fan to have all those albums, so I'll have to post about Led Zeppelin. This poses a second question: what can I say about Led Zeppelin that hasn't already been said before? Their music has been studied, dissected and analyzed for decades. So the only thing I have left for me to say about Led Zeppelin is the effect their music has had on my life. Since I live Led Zeppelin but can't say I'm their #1 fan, this comes out like cliff notes - a smattering of incidents and memories here and there. As Steve Martin used to say, "And awwayyy we go!"
  • Early in life, Led Zeppelin rarely came up at all. When they came up, it was by reputation of being a Satanic rock band (it was the '70's, lots of bands were considered Satanic back then.)

  • The first Led Zeppelin song I have a distinct memory of hearing was "Kashmir" from the scene in 1982's movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I was such a newbie to Led Zep I didn't know when Damone says to play side 2 of Led Zeppelin IV that "Kashmir" isn't on there. But I didn't care, the image of cruising to that heavy groove with Jennifer Jason Leigh was a great cinematic moment.

  • In High School I learned Led Zep and Black Sabbath were the measuring stick for all other Hard Rock bands that followed. I notice Sabbath seems to have more influence on people with them writing "OZZY" on their knuckles but more bands sound like Zep.

  • In High School I mention to a group of friends I've never heard "Stairway to Heaven", only heard of it. I'm told the song has been played to death and is overrated.

  • After moving to Sacramento, I listen to more radio which includes a lot of Led Zep. "Over The Hills And Far Away" comes up often and becomes my favorite Led Zep song at the time.

  • I watch Atlantic Record's 40th Anniversary show which includes a performance by Led Zeppelin. At the time I was blown away by the performance and even transfer "Whole Lotta Love" to a cassette tape from the VHS tape. Earlier this week I found this performance on You Tube and found the performance lacking, but back then I was mesmerized.

  • Several bands copy or are inspired by the Led Zeppelin sound, causing Robert Plant to slam all of them. Around this time I listen to both Plant's solo album (the previous post) and Jimmy Page's Outrider.

  • My College fuels a taste for more Zep, first by seeing a tribute band play in one of the school cafeterias and then later in the year catching Dread Zeppelin outside of the Student Union lawn. Dread Zeppelin, a reggae band playing Led Zep covers fronted by an Elvis impersonator, is really entertaining and makes me a fan of "Heartbreaker" after hearing it combined with "Heartbreak Hotel".

  • I buy my first Led Zep CD with Led Zeppelin II because it has "Whole Lotta Love" and "Heartbreaker" from my local Rainbow Records store. I eventually buy the first four Led Zeppelin albums which includes "Stairway to Heaven". Finally got to hear it.

  • For a course in video production we are required to create a program based on a poem. I ask if song lyrics count and am told yes so I read "Stairway to Heaven" while displaying photographic images from a Life Magazine issue on the best photos of all time. Got a good grade on that one!

  • While dating my girlfriend who would later be my wife, I note that she likes Zeppelin and buy her the box set Remasters as a gift.

  • John Paul Jones arranges the strings for R.E.M.'s Automatic For The People disc and does a really good job!

  • While playing Led Zeppelin at me and my wife's first and only apartment together, some new neighbors move in. The girl remarks that her boyfriend thought it was cool we were playing Led Zeppelin. This turns out to be the only cool thing to ever happen with these people. Their drug parties and boyfriend's physical abuse come through loud and clear in the paper thin walls of the apartment. We call the Police on them a few times which fails to help at all except make enemies out of them. As a result the couple and their friends take to throwing eggs and/or peeing on our door. At least we suspect it was them. My wife puts shaving cream on their parked car while we move out (we weren't moving because of them though they were annoying).

  • In the mid 90's while listening to the box set, I get hooked on "Since I've Been Loving You" 'cause it's an awesome song.

  • The movie Dazed and Confused is really good and so I go binge on that song for awhile too.

  • Sheryl Crow covers "D'yer M'ker" which she reveals means "Did you make her?" which in turn means "Did you sleep with that girl?" I had no idea. Stone Temple Pilots cover "Dancing Days" about the same time, I like their version better than the original even though it's practically the same arrangement. Go figure.

  • Somewhere around this time I realize the song title is not "Misty Mountain Top" but "Misty Mountain Hop". D'oh!

  • Jimmy Page pairs up with Whitesnake singer David Coverdale to form Coverdale / Page. The combination of Zep and the 'Snake is pretty potent stuff, but Plant quickly pulls Page back to his side leaving Coverdale rejected.

  • Robert Plant and Jimmy Page re team sans John Paul Jones but their artsy groove fails to catch my ear, though I buy the CD for cheap a decade later anyway. Turns out it was a pretty good CD.

  • On the radio I hear a live version of Coverdale / Page's "Shake My Tree" from Plant and Page, the version kicks ass.

  • My wife includes "Nobody's Fault But Mine" on a mix tape and it becomes my new favorite Led Zeppelin song. The groove and expert timing on the drums is astounding. I become a big fan of John Bonham.

  • Around this time I realize my favorite Led Zeppelin album is Houses of the Holy and play "The Ocean" a lot.

  • I forget exactly how, but I get hooked on "Hey Hey What Can I Do?" in the late 90's.

  • Jimmy Page begins attaching himself to anything and everything remotely Zeppelin like a drowning man clinging to a life preserver, worst of which is a ridiculous version of "Kashmir" he makes with Puff Daddy/Diddy/Don't he/Whatever where the lyrics are changed to something like "Come to Me" for the Godzilla soundtrack.

  • A good thing comes out of Page's renewed obsession with his old band, he teams up with the Black Crowes for a live album and tour performing Led Zeppelin songs. They sound great! I listen to a lot of their take on "What is and What Should Never Be" at this time.

  • One of my favorite films, Almost Famous, is revealed to draw some inspiration from Cameron Crowe's experiences with Led Zeppelin. As well as The Eagles and of course, Heart.

  • I borrow the Led Zeppelin DVD from a friend and enjoy watching footage of live Led Zep from the 70's.

  • "The Immigrant Song" begins to appear in movies, first in Jack Black's comedy School of Rock and then later in a Shrek movie. I now associate the song with birds attacking after the Shrek movie.

  • Led Zeppelin reunites for a one off performance. I patiently wait to see if it comes out on DVD. Rumors of a tour are squashed by Robert Plant's refusal to get involved due to his artistic integrity, which I respect.
That brings us to the present. I bought the Led Zeppelin CD Mothership last Christmas and enjoyed it a lot, what can I say, their music is timeless. I can't say I play Led Zeppelin regularly, but this is a good reminder to play them a little more than I do right now.

No comments: