The Music Blog: Zeppelin

I guess it was inevitable. Sometime in the last ten years or so I began to forgive. I didn’t forget. I just forgave. I had enough musical grudges and it just wasn’t worth carrying around another. Led Zeppelin simply had too many songs from my junior high and high school years to make it practical and while it was a similar grudge to the one I have with the douchebag it lacked the depth of anger and disgust. Technically they had not done anything wrong, or had they?

Since I graduated high school in 1981 it’s not a reach for you to see that the music of Led Zeppelin colored my Junior High and High School years, my formative years when it comes to much of the music I love, how open I am to new groups and new genres. All of this originated from those years. The underground stuff I got from college but my well-formed attitudes towards what was good rock and roll and what was bad rock and roll developed in those years. While my tastes have matured and there are many more bands that have importance to me, many of my favorite bands are 70’s bands.

I never loved Led Zeppelin, certainly not the way many people did. I didn’t hate them either. I didn’t have every record but I did have a couple. Listening to the rock stations of the day you could not avoid Led Zeppelin, but generally speaking they were not a band I changed the channel on. I did not wail, threaten to cut my wrists or refuse to go to school out of grief when John Bonham died. Led Zeppelin was not that important to me. The bands and artists who I would grieve over were still well beyond the horizon. Zeppelin had quite a few songs which received regular airplay and quite a few songs that I loved. It was and still is impossible to hate the song Kashmir. My son still sings the song Whole Lotta Love just the way I do because he heard me sing it that way, which is complete with sound effects. The first Led Zeppelin song I fell in love with was not Stairway to Heaven, it was Over the Hills and Far Away. So the first album I bought from Led Zeppelin was not IV, or even the debut but Houses of the Holy. I now have all Zeppelin on either vinyl or cd but back in the day the only other album I had was Presence because of the song Nobody’s Fault But Mine, which later would prove ironic.

As I said they were never my favorite band. I liked a few songs. I recognized the greatness of Bonham but I have never liked Robert Plant’s vocals. I am just not that crazy about him and his solo work has reinforced that opinion. I always thought based on nothing at all that Jimmy Page was terribly overrated but I couldn’t tell you why I felt that way. What I can say is that I don’t think or believe that any longer. I see him now as an innovator but that doesn’t really change my opinion of the band.

It was after I graduated college with a pesky bachelor’s degree that I began to be exposed to more and more music. The Blues, that’s what I dove into. I bought everything blues. If it had blues in the description I bought it and then I started realizing over a long slow time period the weight of what I was seeing and more importantly what I was hearing. I won’t go into great detail again about my beliefs of what blues music is and is not. What I saw were a whole lot of white artists many of them not even American calling themselves blues men or being described as bluesmen many with the word great thrown in there for good measure. Blues is uniquely American and while many will say the blues ain’t nothing but a good man feeling bad that isn’t true. It was born in terror, born in defiance, born in a hopelessness that no white man could possibly understand, especially a damn Englishman. They can play the notes but they just can’t go THERE.

In this discovery of the blues I came across a song on a compilation by Blind Willie Johnson. I didn’t see the title I heard the song and then I looked at the title. It’s Nobody’s Fault But mine. I pulled the album Presence out Side 2 first song Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Page-Plant). It’s not the same exact song, but then it is, that chorus. Now the song is a Public Domain song but my question then just like my question now is why not give that credit, why not have it in your liner notes why not tell the world where you got it. Nope. Page-Plant wrote that song its right there on the album. Do you really think they wrote the line a big legged woman ain’t got no soul? That’s a line in another song that they stole. They stole liberally from an African American culture that they neither care about or understood. So I stopped listening to Led Zeppelin. They were not the only ones. White Englishmen still do this. White Americans do this so why do I punish one band? I don’t. Whether I listen or don’t listen to Led Zeppelin affects them not at all. Bonham is gone. Led Zeppelin will never perform again.

Their music is different than that of Clapton, aka the douchebag. I like some Clapton songs too. I don’t like Clapton the person. I don’t need to rehash it here. Some of my forgiveness of Led Zeppelin came about because of social media. Jimmy Page just seems like a good guy. He seems so humble and I have never really heard him say a harsh thing. I don’t like Robert Plant’s voice all that much but he is human, oh is he human. Whatever they did or didn’t do I can’t find it in me to be angry and maybe that has as much to do with me as it does them. If Led Zeppelin had a stronger place in my heart then maybe I would feel differently. They didn’t and I don’t. It’s hard to stay angry and it requires a lot of energy and I have a musical grudge that I won’t let go of. Heck I even have a couple or three or five. I am not passionate enough about this one. So put your earplugs in. It’s time to go back to the 70’s and crank some Zeppelin.

Mike out

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