Living with…Led Zeppelin…for a week

PROLOGUE
A dark chilly evening outside, its even warm by the open fridge door in comparison.
“Mum”
“Yes, dear”
“What’s Led Zeppelin?”
A pause
“Its an airship….”
“Oh”
…and then I forgot and Led Zeppelin passed me by…

Led Zeppelin crept up on me in fragments through the 70s and 80s, the odd song here and there.  So its only this week that I’ve sat down and listened to Led Zeppelin IV for the first time end to end.

“Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah…

Ahhhhhh!
Ooooh-ahhhh”  Black Dog

Precisely.

THE LONG TIME

“It’s been a long time, been a long time
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time
Yes, it has”  Rock and Roll

Last Sunday P suddenly asked if we could get an old box out of the garage that contains the last of the ‘toys’ from my childhood.  Don’t know what inspired her but I went along with it – we had one of those few magic afternoons with no agenda.  While she delighted in a train circuit that jittered slowly and painfully at first and then sped up as the parts creaked in to life, I pulled out a faded M&S bag in which rested the remnants of my Subbuteo league.  A worn crinkled pitch, two yellowing goals and countless incomplete and injury-strewn teams held together with glue and blu-tack.

“Look” I said.  “This is where I learnt to iron”

I rambled on for a while about how the old games weren’t just fun but taught you life skills.  P just looked at me.

So I pulled out the ironing board and laid the pitch down and lovingly coaxed it back to pristine smoothness.  And then stroked it out on to the dining room table.

“Lets have a penalty shoot-out”

And we did for a few minutes.  Sometimes the ball went in the back of the net.  Sometimes the player.  Sometimes both.

The cats sat to one side bemused.

“Can I play with the trains now?”
I folded the pitch away carefully…it had been a long long time, and we’d missed each other.

THE LONG BOOK

“I hear the horses thunder down in the valley below
I’m waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow…”  The Battle of Evermore

“You must read this.  Its so utterly the thing to read.  Its about another world of elves, and dwarves and orcs and wizards.”  A large white book with strange figures on the front was thrust in to my hand.

Its 1974, and I tried, I tried really hard with that copy and got halfway through the first book and gave up under the weight of it all.  It feels like a rite of passage and I’m not ready yet.

And that Christmas there it was under the tree broken down now in to three parts.  Three lighter parts, with rune-filled covers.  And I got to the end of that first part that time.  And stopped, exhausted.

Not until the Easter holidays when I took them all on at full tilt, Quixote-like.  I will overcome.  Through the Fellowship again, over the Towers and on to Mordor until the Ring was consumed in the flames.

I tried again another summer, and only completed the Fellowship again…its no wonder the first film is my favourite.  Although the Shire does remind me of Tellytubbyland.

THE LONG SONG

This was why I started this blog in the first place – the discovery of a gem, in fact eight of them.  The album was invented for moments like Led Zeppelin IV, when everything gels together – the sum is greater than the individuals parts.  I love Black Dog, I love Rock and Roll, I love When The Levee Breaks.  Oh, and all the others…

But of course, you can’t ignore the fact that in the middle of this pile of gems is the ultimate rock song, the one that begins “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven”.

In my teens, I first heard the song when one of my guitar-playing friends showed off that he could play the intro and the group of us nodded wisely as he plucked his way through the party-piece.

Since, I’ve probably only re-heard the song once in the last ten years, the result of a late night DJ’s self-indulgence a month or so back.  With a length of 8 minutes that is probably where it is now playing, the late night slot or weekend 70s retro.  But I suggest that you make some space now, drop a note in to your neighbours to apologize for the upcoming noise, pour a drink, turn up the volume of your PC speakers to max, kick off your shoes and press play on the video below.

By the way, did you understand it either?

Glee Watch: Sue Sylvester tries to turn one of her cheerleaders into a human cannonball, apart from that pretty average.  However, halfway through the week I had the uncomfortable thought that they might try and glee Led Zeppelin.  A personal plea – please don’t.

You might want to check out

Living with…The Rolling Stones…for a week

Living with…Meat Loaf…for a week Part 1 Part 2

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