Written By: Ray
Do you know what I answer when people ask me what my favorite music is? Rock or Classic Rock or Hard Rock or something to that effect. But the real answer is undoubtedly, Led Zeppelin. Now, I don’t answer by saying Led Zeppelin anymore because it would literally make me sick to hear these young, uneducated millennials answer with, “Never heard of him” or “Who’s that?” as if Led Zeppelin was one person… “It’s a four-some of some of the best musicians music has ever had!” I’d explain. People don’t realize how influential their music (and the lore surrounding it) was, or just how diverse they were musically, even individually. I, for one, appreciate it more than anyone else I know.
Let’s start at Led Zeppelin IV. I found this album in my Dad’s closet at age 14 and it changed my life forever. Honestly, I grew up listening to 102.9 WMGK, a local Classic Rock station, so I knew they were behind the majestic “Stairway to Heaven,” but once I heard this album in its entirety, I HAD to have more. I instantly went on a Led Zeppelin binge.
I instantaneously researched the symbols in the centerfold of Led Zeppelin IV to find out that they each pertained to the members of the band. The feather in a circle belongs to lead singer, Robert Plant. He designed it himself, supposedly influenced by the mythical Mu civilization. The three interlocking circles belongs to drummer/percussionist, John “Bonzo” Bonham. This is speculated to represent the triad of Mother, Father and Child; however, if flipped upside-down, it is the symbol of Bonham’s favorite beer, Ballantine Ale. The circle weaved into three half-circles belongs to none other than John Paul Jones. To call JPJ a bassist would sell him short. The dude can play anything, and play it well. His symbol is meant to represent someone who is confident and competent, according to The Book of Signs by Rudolf Koch. Last, but certainly not least, is “the Zoso” belonging to lead guitarist Jimmy Page. Page designed the symbol himself, has never publically disclosed what it means, and never intended for it to be a word.
Learning about these symbols only made me more interested. I found out they TRASHED hotels as they toured, even going as far as renting out entire floors so Bonzo could ride his motorcycle through the halls. They had their own JET! Who were these Led Zeppelin guys and why hadn’t I known this about them? I HAD to learn more, and I realized that I had to let the music do the talking!
After listening to every Led Zeppelin song there is, I quickly realized that there’s a song for everyone. If you want a song to mellow out and drinks some beers to, listen to “D’yer Maker” off of Houses of the Holy. If you want to rock hard, the vast majority of their songs will do, but I suggest “Trampled Underfoot” from the double album, Physical Graffiti or “Rock and Roll” on Led Zeppelin IV. If you just went through a break-up, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” should be atop your list of songs to add to the break-up mix-tape. And if you end up getting back together, “All of my Love” from In Through the Out Door will swoon him/her back into your arms.
If you listen to the aforementioned songs, you’ll certainly see Led Zeppelin’s diversity, but you may not yet appreciate their talent. Wanna hear Plant belt out notes you couldn’t even scream despite a swift kick in the nuts? Listen to “Black Dog” off of Led Zeppelin IV. You’ll lose your voice before you replicate his sexual crooning. Now, Bonzo could play at a speed some drummers only dream of being able to bash out. For reference, direct your attention to “Achilles’ Last Stand” from Presence or “Moby Dick” from Led Zeppelin II. Fair warning: If you’re trying to air-drum this stuff, you’re going to get whiplash or carpal tunnel, and I haven’t decided which is worse. Need some bass tunes to fill-up your ear holes? JPJ has got the bassline for you on “The Song Remains the Same” from Houses of the Holy. Most bassists couldn’t hold a flame to this dude’s rhythmic groove. And Jimmy Page is #3 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the top 100 guitarists of all time, so every single one of his performances are unprecedented, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the solo on, “Heartbreaker” off of Led Zeppelin II. That lick would shred steel if it felt so inclined.
Led Zeppelin’s music speaks for itself and it most certainly sculpted who I am today. Their whimsical lyrics made me realize that it’s okay to be different. Their teeth-gnashing jams taught me that it can be cathartic to let loose every once in a while. Their melodies found my softer side and their rockin’ landed on ears yearning for something hard and heavy. I’ll forever be a Zeppelin fan. Now, all I can do is sit back, listen to their wonderful music and wait/pray for a reunion tour that sadly, probably won’t ever happen… Dare to dream though, eh?