Saturday, September 15, 2012

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath

Sup?  Recently I found myself, as I often find myself, In the middle of a Led Zeppelin binge. This often happens to me because if I make a genius playlist that is based on a classic rock song or a hard rock song a Zeppelin song will inevitably come up.  Once that happens, I usually decide I no longer want to listen to this playlist and I just put on all Zeppelin.  They’re just better than everyone else and their music stands out too much in any playlist, for me anyways.   Don’t worry, though, this isn’t going to be a long article polishing Zeppelin’s knobs.  I’m sure there are plenty of those out there.  I just have a question to ask about whether they are cool or not.

So, anyways, to the point…  I am sitting there listening to Battle of Evermore. For some reason I never really listen to the words of this song, I just try to sing along with the chick parts. No idea why, don’t ask.  But this time I was listening to the words and noticed the line “The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath” and began thinking about how awesome of a line that is.  About 10 minutes later I am in my car still thinking about this line.  Stairway to heaven had already passed and I was on to Misty Mountain Hop.  Then I realized it; I have just been duped again by another one of their damned Lord of the Rings references.  I went back and listened to Battle of Evermore again and realized that the entire damn song is one big Lord of the Rings reference.[i]  Is this cool or is this the dorkiest thing ever?? A lot of people think that Led Zeppelin is this dark spiritual band.  Many claim that Jimmy Page is some sort of sadist.  That he sold his soul to the devil for his ability to play the guitar and blah, blah, blah.  But then you start to realize that all their dark lyrical references are not references to the devil or anything spiritual.  They are references to Mordor, Sauron, the ringwraiths and the damned Misty Mountain. Now, I am not saying it’s cool to be a Satanist or anything, but it does give the band a certain supernatural feel, an inaccessibleness.  That is just one of many things the keeps them from having any real peers or contemporaries.  There’s no band that is like Led Zeppelin, no band that you compare to Zeppelin.  There is just Zeppelin.  That’s not saying that they are better than everyone else (though I think they are), but it does mean that they are different than everyone else. 

So, the question is this; is Zeppelin really cool because they can draw countless references from a fictional fantasy book and make it sound cool and badass?  Or are they super dorky because they are strangely infatuated with a fictional fantasy book?  I mean, would you think less of Tool’s badassness if you found out down the road that the majority of their songs were references to Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter? What if Black Sabboth’s music was just about Game of Thrones? Or Nine Inch Nails were just constantly referring to stuff they read in 50 Shades of Grey? What if Slipknot was just thrashing riffs to the words of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumbs?

As I was thinking about this for the rest of the day, I continued to listen to Zeppelin. Really paying attention to whether this is just a few songs that reference LOTR or if this is truly an epidemic that has infiltrated their entire catalog.  Again, I’m probably missing some, but I hear references to LOTR in: Ramble On (most prevalent here), Over the Hills and Far Away, Battle of Evermore, Misty Mountain Hop, and possibly Stairway to Heaven (though, indirect).  Additionally, there are references to other mythological figures (Norse, Greek, Celtic, and Roman) in the following songs:  Immigrant Song, Achilles Last Stand, The Song Remains the Same, No Quarter, and Kashmir.

I guess as I delve further and further into this, I am starting to come to the realization that when they wrote words they needed to write about something huge and epic to go along with the music they were writing.  Their goal very clearly was to create a sound that was larger than life and it just wouldn’t have fit so well if they were singing about calling me maybe, backed by the music of Achilles Last Stand.  Led Zeppelin just had this way of being completely over-dramatic and unrealistic to the point of being foolish and still somehow making it outrageously cool.  I don’t think there is a better way to describe this phenomenon than to simply show a picture of Jimmy Page’s crazy dragon jumpsuit.

He likes it so much; he also got one in white. 

Zeppelin is kind of defined as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; the two musicians that were grandiose enough to play with John Bonham. Some bands don’t need to show off and show their talent subtlety.  This is not one of those bands.

I’m sure that if you took the time to read this far, you’d probably like to hear some Zeppelin now.  Here’s one where all four of them rock way hard.

I couldn’t really decide, so here’s another.  


Have a good one!


[i] I’m pretty sure the Battle of Evermore is all about the last large battle in return of the king.  The one where Aragorn comes to the rescue with the aid of all those ghost pirates. (god, that sounds dorky).  I gather this because of the continuous references to “Ringwraiths ride in black” (Ringwraiths are the black demons that ride on dragons (dorky, again)) as this was the only battle in which they were present.  There are a few other references, but I don’t need to get into them.  My current level of knowledge of this is incriminating enough as it is.  

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