Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (above) with T-Bone Burnett perform their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” at Starlight Theater in Kansas City on Tuesday, September 23. At the bottom is Led Zeppelin’s version of “Black Dog” in 1973.
On August 20, 1970, in the last days before I headed off to college, some friends and I drove two hours to Oklahoma City to see Led Zeppelin at the State Fairgrounds Arena. It was a long trip, but worth every mile. (Although I didn’t do the driving.) “Whole Lotta Love” was a hit by this time, but like the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin focused on the whole experience. It wasn’t about one song. The band members resisted releasing their music as singles and avoided television appearances, preferring that their fans experience the music as a total performance, which we were thrilled to be doing.
I fell in love with Led Zeppelin in January 1969 when the first album was released. It affected me the way no other music did before nor has since. I’m definitely a Led Head.
I didn’t have enough money to buy the first album myself, so I split the cost with my sister. I wisely decided to buy the second album (October 1969) on my own (with my meager earnings as a cashier at Mr. Steak) when I realized there might be a problem sharing the first album when I left for college. I’ve bought every album since, then duplicated the same in compact discs and have purchased every other variation produced. I’ve helped in my small way to make the Atlantic Recording Corporation very successful.
That Led Zeppelin’s history coincided with my formative years may have had a wee bit to do with my adoration. That band was the soundtrack to my young life.
Despite my enthusiasm for Led Zeppelin, it was never about the band members themselves. I didn’t pay attention to their antics or what they looked like. When the band broke up in 1980 after the death of John Bonham, I followed Robert Plant’s career.
At first, I was hoping Plant would continue the heavier sound of the band, but he was more whimsical, more lyrical, perhaps because he’s a singer. Anyway, I was hooked. I recognized in Plant’s work, despite the differences, the fusion of so many of the elements and musical styles that had made Led Zeppelin the biggest band in the world in the 1970s. They played not just rock, but Celtic, Arabic, classical, reggae, blues, folk and country and a dozen other genres.
I’ve seen Robert Plant four times, including once with Jimmy Page and this latest concert with Alison Krauss. Some critics were perplexed when Plant joined with Krauss, but I said: Hey, you don’t know Robert the way I do! It’s totally Plant’s style to combine his own multifaceted work with Krauss’ country and bluegrass music. At his concert with Krauss, he mused that he wasn’t sure what their musical fusion was called, but he said it was definitely “smokin’,” and he was right about that. Plant is an amusing guy, too, and his witty comments are known as “plantations.”
Led Zeppelin reunited for a concert last year in England with John Bonham’s son Jason as the drummer and is planning a tour in 2009. Robert Plant has made a statement that he won’t be the singer, however. That’s crushing news. If he changes his mind, I’M GONNA CRAWL for a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE even if I have to make a MISTY MOUNTAIN HOP on a STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN and even if it means GOING TO CALIFORNIA, because I’m just a LIVING LOVING MAID who would find it a HEARTBREAKER if I had a COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN and was a FOOL IN THE RAIN if I missed the show. Remember fans, YOUR TIME IS GONNA COME because HOW MANY MORE TIMES can we be DAZED AND CONFUSED and find it TEN YEARS GONE, and we still haven’t seen the concert. THANK YOU for letting me RAMBLE ON.
You can read the history of Led Zeppelin by clicking here and on Led Zeppelin’s official website. Also for news of what Plant is up to, go to Robert Plant’s official website. Maybe he’ll change his mind about not touring.