Led Zeppelin and 50 years of reflection

marty

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Have you noticed there have been a lot of "50 year reflection" editorials about rock music recently?

A Long Time Since ‘Zeppelin IV’​

Even now, half a century later, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.​


By
Andy Kessler
Nov. 7, 2021 1:01 pm ET


John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing in Hiroshima, Japan, Sept. 27, 1971.​

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES


“It’s been a long time since” . . . 1971. Fifty years ago on Nov. 8, the album “Led Zeppelin IV” was released, which included the eight-minute classic “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a year of transition from turmoil to modernity, a songwriter’s paradise. And yes, I’m a sucker for anniversaries.
Back in 1971 we listened to music on LP records—for the uninitiated, 20 or so minutes of music pressed into vinyl, spun at 33 1/3 rpm and amplified from a scratchy needle to giant speakers. Without TikTok, my generation wasted time poring over album-cover art in search of hidden meaning and reading the liner notes printed on the album sleeves.
More legacy-defining albums were released in 1971 than in any other year by my count. As proof, let’s play a game: I name the album, you name the artist, and no googling. “Sticky Fingers,” “Who’s Next,” “L.A. Woman,” “Aqualung,” “Tapestry,” “What’s Going On,” “Fragile,” “Imagine,” “At Fillmore East,” “Madman across the Water,” “Pearl,” “Anticipation,” “Shaft,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “The Concert for Bangladesh.” How many did you get? Now add the Grateful Dead’s first gold album, and of course “Led Zeppelin IV,” sometimes known as Zoso.
Nineteen seventy-one is still considered “the ’60s,” which started when JFK was assassinated and ended with Watergate. The antiwar Democratic Convention riots defined chaotic 1968. Woodstock embodied 1969. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded and Apollo 13 proved failure wasn’t an option. But what was it about 1971?

The sound of Vietnam protests and smell of tear gas still hung in the air, along with a hippy-dippy free-love ethos perfectly parodied by the TV show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” which ran until 1973. Although Richard Nixon was in the White House, there were hints of modernity. U.S. astronauts landed on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972. Nineteen seventy-one was the perfect segue between past despair and future hope and dreams, which were sadly delayed by the inflation and smog-filled skies of the 1970s.

Led Zeppelin captured this transition. Singer Robert Plant’s lyrics had mystical musings and a Tolkien-esque feel—“bustle in your hedgerow.” Meanwhile, Jimmy Page’s guitar often sounded like it came from the future. Come to think of it, when I saw them at Madison Square Garden, Mr. Page played a Gibson double-neck guitar, one for the past and one for the future.
So what did “Stairway to Heaven” even mean? Trippy lyrics are usually over my head, but I’ve had 50 years to think about this song. “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold.” The obvious interpretation is that you can’t buy your way into heaven, but that’s too easy. “Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven” captured the malaise of relatively immobile times. “There’s still time to change the road you’re on,” meant changing from Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out” to “Plug in, turn out, ramp up.” And especially relevant given today’s dictionary hijackers: “ ’Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.”
The final bridge of the song ends with “When all are one and one is all . . . to be a rock and not to roll.” Maybe that is about the dreamy collectivism still percolating in 1971, not unlike today. Or maybe it means society advances when each individual does his part to solve complex problems. Even better, it is a preview to the declaration of both the Blues Brothers and United Airlines Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer : “Let’s roll.” I like that.
Twenty twenty-one is different from 1971, not quite hippy-dippy but more wokey-tokey as we slowly evolve toward some ill-defined neural-automated metaverse-enabled world order.
But it’s also similar. We now have shortages. Inflation is coming back. Labor unrest and strikes have begun. Both sides of the aisle are constantly bickering and talking past each other. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Feels familiar, no?
In 2071, when my cryobot writes my column about what’s happened since 2021, what will I say? First, I will notice that the era began with legalizing pot and paying people not to work—the ’60 dreams finally came true!
Insta-vaccines mean disease became rare. Capitalism again beat socialism. We hardly notice robots anymore, which took over many low-end jobs. Artificial intelligence never quite became sentient, but it helped take much of the drudgery out of work. Yes, there’s still work, but there’s no Holodeck yet. Cars became autonomous, and space resorts opened, though we still can’t grow potatoes on Mars like Matt Damon did in “The Martian.” But humans are better off by a factor of 50, our never-ending stairway toward heaven. Oh, so that’s what the song means!
Write to kessler@wsj.com.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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Have you noticed there have been a lot of "50 year reflection" editorials about rock music recently?

A Long Time Since ‘Zeppelin IV’​

Even now, half a century later, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.​


By
Andy Kessler
Nov. 7, 2021 1:01 pm ET


John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing in Hiroshima, Japan, Sept. 27, 1971.​

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Singer Robert Plant’s lyrics had mystical musings and a Tolkien-esque feel—“bustle in your hedgerow.” Meanwhile, Jimmy Page’s guitar often sounded like it came from the future. C

There was an interview where Plant was asked if he still gets a bustle in his hedgerow. He replied that if I told you, I would have to explain the meaning of the lyrics, won't I? Lol
 

bonzo75

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I had two good old write-ups which were extracts from a book on them:

1.

John Paul Jones: " I think the problem with most modern bands is that all the band members listen to the same music, which makes for a very one-dimensional sound. We never listened to the same music. I have always maintained that Zeppelin was the spaces between us. Bonzo was into soul music and Motown ballads; I was into jazz and classical music; Jimmy was into roackabilly, blues, and folk; and Robert was into blues and Elvis Presley. None of us had the same record collection. Nobody on the outside of the band could understand this, as this seems ripe for conflict.
But it was very clear to me why it worked. We all loved music and liked learning about new things. Each of our individual collections was interesting to everyone else. I’d go over to Robert’s or Jimmy’s house and hear some blues I would otherwise never have been exposed to. For instance, I’d never actually listened to Robert Johnson before joining Led Zeppelin (the brilliant cover of Robert Johnson’s Travelling Riverside Blues was composed and played on the spot for a BBC session).
The only rock I listened to in the 60s was Hendrix. The rest of the time I listened to jazz and soul. I never listened to Cream or the Dead. I wouldn’t know what they did. I don’t think anybody in the band listened to them either. Maybe Jimmy was more aware. Jimmy had his vision of what he wanted the band to sound like, and I certainly knew how to play. There were definite lines and directions we wanted to follow. But the odd thing is, we didn’t really have to discuss our ideas. You could hear what was happening, and you instinctively knew what should happen.
Sometimes on live shows it became a game of “Let’s play anything anybody knows 12 bars of.” I know it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but we knew how to make things sound good because we were all experienced musicians. The other secret was that we were a selfless band. Everybody was in tune with everybody else, and everybody always listened to everybody else. That was the key. The feeling was never “what am I doing?” It was always “What is the band doing?”
 
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bonzo75

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2.


BRAD TOLINSKI: Right from the beginning, you were able to translate the extreme dynamism of Led Zeppelin’s live act into a dynamic studio recording: What was your secret?
JIMMY PAGE: That is interesting, isn’t it? One usually thinks of a dynamic album being translated into a dynamic live performance, but in the early days, it was the other way around for us.
I think part of the key was that we miked John Bonham’s drums like a proper acoustic instrument in a good acoustic environment. The drums had to sound good because they were going to be the backbone of the band. So I worked hard on microphone placement. But then again, you see, when you have someone who is as powerful as John Bonham going for you, the battle is all but won.
So the way to capture a dynamic performance is, essentially, to capture the natural sound of the instruments.
PAGE: Sure. You shouldn’t really have to use EQ in the studio if the instruments sound good. It should all be done with microphones and microphone placement. The instruments that bleed into each other are what creates the ambience. Once you start cleaning everything up, you lose it. You lose that sort of halo that bleeding creates. Then if you eliminate the halo, you have to go back and put in some artificial reverb, which is never as good.
PAGE: And that’s probably the biggest difference between the music made in the Fifties and music made from the Seventies on—everything suddenly had to be cleaned up. You do that and you take that whole punch out of the track.
--
 
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bonzo75

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3.

Q: Your three hour live shows. How did they evolve
John Paul Jones: We simply could not control ourselves. You have to be interested in what you are doing before you can interest other people. We started as a 45-minute act, which we were able to contain ourselves to twice.
 

bonzo75

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John Bonham quotes: he once said to Robert Plant
"You ARE good. But you are half as good as a singer as I am a drummer". Another quote: "Just watch me tonight, I'm gonna totally demolish this drumkit."
 

bonzo75

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Jimmy page: "Well, the first rehearsal that we did was here in London, in a rehearsal room where we had maybe an hour or two hours, and we just got together, and we counted, '1, 2, 3, 4...' and were all playing, and we just kept extending the song and jamming on it.
"And by the end of it, I absolutely guarantee it was a life-changing experience for everyone from that point. Everyone knew that they'd never played with musical equals."
 
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Addicted to hifi

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Jimmy page: "Well, the first rehearsal that we did was here in London, in a rehearsal room where we had maybe an hour or two hours, and we just got together, and we counted, '1, 2, 3, 4...' and were all playing, and we just kept extending the song and jamming on it.
"And by the end of it, I absolutely guarantee it was a life-changing experience for everyone from that point. Everyone knew that they'd never played with musical equals."
You must be a big fan of led.you know a lot about the band.legendary group.
 

Lee Henley

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As a Led Zeppelin fan for over 40 years here is my favourite version of STH recorded live at Earls Court 1975. Also if you want to hear Zep 4 on vinyl keep a look out for a UK plumb Pecko Duck pressing seems that they are commanding big money nowadays!


 

bonzo75

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As a Led Zeppelin fan for over 40 years here is my favourite version of STH recorded live at Earls Court 1975. Also if you want to hear Zep 4 on vinyl keep a look out for a UK plumb Pecko Duck pressing seems that they are commanding big money nowadays!



Agreed
 

Cableman

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Dec 27, 2013
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One of the saddest encounters I had ‘in the bizz’ was meeting the colossus ( in more ways than one) of management Peter Grant. A true managerial giant and Zeppelin would not have been the same without him.
Sadly the drugs had taken their enormous toll and he was a mere shadow of the man who reinvented touring percentages for performers versus promoters. Long may he RIP. He certainly made my life easier when it came to negotiating concert fees and I was pretty hot at it if I do say so myself ;)
 

Michael Davitt

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Have you noticed there have been a lot of "50 year reflection" editorials about rock music recently?

A Long Time Since ‘Zeppelin IV’​

Even now, half a century later, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.​


By
Andy Kessler
Nov. 7, 2021 1:01 pm ET


John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing in Hiroshima, Japan, Sept. 27, 1971.​

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES


“It’s been a long time since” . . . 1971. Fifty years ago on Nov. 8, the album “Led Zeppelin IV” was released, which included the eight-minute classic “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a year of transition from turmoil to modernity, a songwriter’s paradise. And yes, I’m a sucker for anniversaries.
Back in 1971 we listened to music on LP records—for the uninitiated, 20 or so minutes of music pressed into vinyl, spun at 33 1/3 rpm and amplified from a scratchy needle to giant speakers. Without TikTok, my generation wasted time poring over album-cover art in search of hidden meaning and reading the liner notes printed on the album sleeves.
More legacy-defining albums were released in 1971 than in any other year by my count. As proof, let’s play a game: I name the album, you name the artist, and no googling. “Sticky Fingers,” “Who’s Next,” “L.A. Woman,” “Aqualung,” “Tapestry,” “What’s Going On,” “Fragile,” “Imagine,” “At Fillmore East,” “Madman across the Water,” “Pearl,” “Anticipation,” “Shaft,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “The Concert for Bangladesh.” How many did you get? Now add the Grateful Dead’s first gold album, and of course “Led Zeppelin IV,” sometimes known as Zoso.
Nineteen seventy-one is still considered “the ’60s,” which started when JFK was assassinated and ended with Watergate. The antiwar Democratic Convention riots defined chaotic 1968. Woodstock embodied 1969. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded and Apollo 13 proved failure wasn’t an option. But what was it about 1971?

The sound of Vietnam protests and smell of tear gas still hung in the air, along with a hippy-dippy free-love ethos perfectly parodied by the TV show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” which ran until 1973. Although Richard Nixon was in the White House, there were hints of modernity. U.S. astronauts landed on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972. Nineteen seventy-one was the perfect segue between past despair and future hope and dreams, which were sadly delayed by the inflation and smog-filled skies of the 1970s.

Led Zeppelin captured this transition. Singer Robert Plant’s lyrics had mystical musings and a Tolkien-esque feel—“bustle in your hedgerow.” Meanwhile, Jimmy Page’s guitar often sounded like it came from the future. Come to think of it, when I saw them at Madison Square Garden, Mr. Page played a Gibson double-neck guitar, one for the past and one for the future.
So what did “Stairway to Heaven” even mean? Trippy lyrics are usually over my head, but I’ve had 50 years to think about this song. “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold.” The obvious interpretation is that you can’t buy your way into heaven, but that’s too easy. “Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven” captured the malaise of relatively immobile times. “There’s still time to change the road you’re on,” meant changing from Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out” to “Plug in, turn out, ramp up.” And especially relevant given today’s dictionary hijackers: “ ’Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.”
The final bridge of the song ends with “When all are one and one is all . . . to be a rock and not to roll.” Maybe that is about the dreamy collectivism still percolating in 1971, not unlike today. Or maybe it means society advances when each individual does his part to solve complex problems. Even better, it is a preview to the declaration of both the Blues Brothers and United Airlines Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer : “Let’s roll.” I like that.
Twenty twenty-one is different from 1971, not quite hippy-dippy but more wokey-tokey as we slowly evolve toward some ill-defined neural-automated metaverse-enabled world order.
But it’s also similar. We now have shortages. Inflation is coming back. Labor unrest and strikes have begun. Both sides of the aisle are constantly bickering and talking past each other. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Feels familiar, no?
In 2071, when my cryobot writes my column about what’s happened since 2021, what will I say? First, I will notice that the era began with legalizing pot and paying people not to work—the ’60 dreams finally came true!
Insta-vaccines mean disease became rare. Capitalism again beat socialism. We hardly notice robots anymore, which took over many low-end jobs. Artificial intelligence never quite became sentient, but it helped take much of the drudgery out of work. Yes, there’s still work, but there’s no Holodeck yet. Cars became autonomous, and space resorts opened, though we still can’t grow potatoes on Mars like Matt Damon did in “The Martian.” But humans are better off by a factor of 50, our never-ending stairway toward heaven. Oh, so that’s what the song means!
Write to kessler@wsj.com.
Good Read thanks for the effort . . .
 

DasguteOhr

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Sep 26, 2013
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a really nice cover from far corporation,tribute to led zeppelin
 

Michael Davitt

VIP/Donor
Nov 3, 2020
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One of the saddest encounters I had ‘in the bizz’ was meeting the colossus ( in more ways than one) of management Peter Grant. A true managerial giant and Zeppelin would not have been the same without him.
Sadly the drugs had taken their enormous toll and he was a mere shadow of the man who reinvented touring percentages for performers versus promoters. Long may he RIP. He certainly made my life easier when it came to negotiating concert fees and I was pretty hot at it if I do say so myself ;)
 

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