There are a few groups that I will almost never turn the station for. I’ve already spoken of Rush…today it’s Led Zeppelin. The members of the band: Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass, keyboards), and John Bonham (drums). The music: memorable and classic. This blues based rock band provided much of the soundtrack for my youth.
Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin, 1969)
In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man
Now I’ve reached that age I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can
The song that literally introduced Zeppelin to the world, this is the first song on the first side of their first album. And what an intro, two hard-ass blues chords, onetwo! For those who know, hearing those first two notes and it’s immediately a Led Zeppelin song. Besides the classic riff, the most memorable thing about this song for most people is how Bonham sounds as though he’s playing a double bass pedal, but it’s just his technique and the use of a triplet. I was much too young to hear this song when it was released but it was still like a brand new sound when I heard it in 1976…it’s never been the same since.
Ramble On (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
For now I smell the rain and with it pain
and it’s headed my way
With it’s Tolkien references and jangly country like guitar, this is what one might call a little didly. Sitting barefoot on the back of a truck with this song blasting while we were out on the family plantation is where this song takes me. The “plantation” is really just a piece of land that my Pop bought with his brothers out in South Texas. My cousins and I could just sit and talk for hours listening to our favorite music…these were the days before video games and smartphones and so we HAD to talk to each other. And we loved it.
Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
I’ve been working from 7 to 11 every night
It really make life a drag
I don’t think that’s right.
“White Boy Blues” at it’s best here. When your woman done did you wrong, you can pull this song out and sing your blues away with the best of them. While the album version is classic, the concert versions are what the blues/rock/Zeppelin are and will always be – improvisation personified.
Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin IV, 1970)
There’s a lady who knows
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
“A song of hope” as Robert Plant puts it, I’ve spoken of this song before. Sentimental and nostalgic to me is this song: I’ve said it before here – this was the last song played at every middle school and high school dance I went to. The hope, for us hormonally imbalanced boys, was the chance to get close to THAT girl at least one more time for the night…and maybe invite her to the after party. This song is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time…I strongly agree with that.
The Ocean (Houses of the Holy, 1973)
Singing to an ocean, I can hear the ocean’s roar
Play for free, play for me and play a whole lot more, more!
I have never really had any idea what this song is about. I just really love the tune…and sometimes that’s all you need to know.
Bron-Yr-Aur (Physical Grafitti, 1975 (Recorded July 1970))
The obvious choice from this album would be Kashmir (which is actually my favorite song from this album)…but that would be obvious. If you ever doubt Page’s talent and skill then just give this a listen.
Nobody’s Fault but Mine (Prescence, 1976)
Nobody’s fault but mine
Nobody’s fault but mine
Trying to save my soul tonight
It’s nobody’s fault but mine
If you want blues rock, you’ve got it. With it’s roots in Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, and John Renbourn – this is a soulful tribute to Black Southern Gospel that rocks out the devil from your soul. Repent and be free – accept your responsibility and be forgiven. Hell yeah!
Fool in the Rain (In Through The Out Door, 1979)
Well there’s a light in your eye that keeps shining
Like a star that can’t wait for the night
I hate to think I’ve been blinded baby
Why can’t I see you tonight?
From the first album that I heard fresh off the press, this is a departure that for me is just sentimental. Basically a Zeppelin song that all the girls could love too. The story of a man who thinks he’s been stood up only to discover he’s at the wrong place and finds himself a “fool in the rain”. This song somehow both sounds nothing like a Zeppelin song…and EXACTLY like a Zeppelin song…all at the same time.