Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: led zeppelin


Time again for the Best Comment Section On The Innertubes™ to weigh in. (And I mean that: you wonderful people are the opposite of the YouTube or–even worse–the comments under any article in a local newspaper’s website.) The question, as always, centers around the wild and wacky world of rocking and rolling, and it is this:

What is the best song in which the title is not in the lyrics?

Obviously, there are some rules:

  1. No Dead songs. Wharf Rat, The Other One, Weather Report Suite, The Eleven, etc.: we will take these as assumed.
  2. No instrumentals. I shouldn’t have to say that, but I feel like you are all some clever-ass motherfuckers who will think you are getting away with foolishness, and I will brook no foolishness.
  3. Classical music isn’t a song, even if it’s got lyrics. Do not be nominating the Ode To Joy or any opera bullshit.

I will start with something meatheaded and long:

An underrated deep track from the mighty Zep, Carouselambra is about something, but it is not about a carouselambra. Partially because “carouselambra” is a made-up word. What is the tune about? You tell me:

Sisters of the way-side bide their time in quiet peace
Await their place within the ring of calm
Still stand to turn in seconds of release
Await the call they know may never come
In times of lightness, no intruder dared upon
To jeopardize the course, upset the run
And all was joy and hands were raised toward the sun
As love in the halls of plenty overrun

Robert Plant’s best lyrics were the ones you couldn’t quite understand. (Led Zeppelin has a bunch of songs that would qualify: The Immigrant Song, and Achilles Last Stand, and Black Dog, and Four Sticks, and the list goes on and on.)

And here’s a little (barely over two minutes) nugget from Bruce’s first record, when he was still doing his Dylan imitation.

Okay, your turn. Whatcha got?

Trade Season

The rock and roll world was stunned last night when, just as the trade deadline was about to expire, Led Zeppelin shipped John Bonham to the Grateful Dead for Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and a keyboardist to be named later. The trade is expected to be approved by the league after the men fail their physicals and then retake them with a less scrupulous doctor.

Bonham, 27, was quoted as saying, “It was time f’r a change, wunnit? Tired of playing wi’ a guitarist on th’ nod. Jimmy’s gettin’ sloppy. Be much better wi’ Fatty, wha’ever his name is.” Bonham then hit this reporter with a folding chair for no reason.

Kreutzmann, who gives his age as “Suck my balls, that’s how old I am,” responded to the trade by saying, “Turns out I’m getting paid more. Billy’s happy enough to punch dicks.” Kreutzmann then punched this reporter in the dick. Hart also refused to give his age and became belligerent with this reporter for asking. More dickpunching ensued, and, before this reporter lapsed into blessed unconsciousness, there were raccoons loosed.

The first performances of each newly-constituted band went poorly. Kreutzmann and Hart refused to rehearse and became enraged when offered English food to the point of sexually penetrating bacon butties. During the show, both drummers conspicuously mocked the other band members, frequently putting their sticks down to rise and do unflattering imitations of Jimmy Page’s guitar moves. When Robert Plant asked the crowd if they remembered laughter, the men leaned into their drum mics and told him that they did, in fact, remember laughter and called him an asshole. John Paul Jones was completely nonplussed.

Not surprisingly, the Dead’s performance was worse. Bonham, nervous about his first show, drank heavily and began throwing punches and tables. The Dead’s crew put up with it for about ten seconds and then began whaling the living tar out of Bonham to the point where he was unable to play that evening. The show was cancelled and Bonham was left in a dumpster on the way to the airport to pick up Hart and Kreutzmann.

The keyboardist that was to be named later is now being named: Brent.



This is an apt metaphor.

Thoughts On Led Zeppelin’s Live Aid Set In Real-Time

  • Do not watch this.
  • I did it for you so that you would not have to; do not watch this.
  • To set the scene: it is 1985 in Philadelphia.
  • Women’s hair is enormous; men’s shorts are tiny.
  • Led Zeppelin broke up five years previous, choosing not to soldier on after the death of drummer John Bonham.
  • It was a good decision, as every single reunion they’ve performed has been atrocious, starting with this one.
  • Which starts out with an introduction from Phil Collins.
  • Who is also playing drums.
  • Live Aid was like Phil Collins’ bar mitzvah.
  • Smiling little fucker was everywhere.
  • Okay, so Phil introduces Led Zeppelin because I guess Joe Piscopo refused to do it or something, and from the INSTANT they take the stage, it is obvious that this will be a debacle.
  • Remember Queen?
  • This is how they took the stage:
  • A little bit of energy, confidence, excitement.
  • Led Zeppelin wanders out, and Jimmy Page trips over a mic stand.
  • Then Robert Plant starts complaining about the monitors and doing the ol’ “One, two. One, two” bit and then his voice cracks.
  • His voice cracks while he’s speaking, not singing.
  • It’s gonna be a long 20 minutes.
  • Plus: Jimmy Page’s guitar is out-of-tune, and he’s shitfaced.
  • Aw, who cares: it’s Rock and Roll!
  • Which is a confusing song, honestly.
  • The narrator states quite plainly that it’s been a long time since he rocked and rolled.
  • And yet he makes this admission via a rock and roll song.
  • Perhaps the song’s true theme is self-abnegation, and the lies we tell ourselves.
  • Anyway, it’s a mess: literally every bar band in the world plays this song better than Led Zeppelin did at this performance.
  • Like I said, Phil Collins in involved.
  • This did not need to end up in tears: Phil Collins was (he fucked up his back and can’t play any more) a monster drummer, and could have filled the role had he rehearsed with the band.
  • But he didn’t, and didn’t even seem to know the songs that well, and plus there was another drummer.
  • Cuz that’s how badass John Bonham was: it took two guys to replace him.
  • Maaaaaaan.
  • The other guy was Tony Thompson, who drummed for Chic, and played on the sessions for about half of the great disco hits.
  • Two legitimately great drummers.
  • Who had never played together before.
  • And the band had not rehearsed.
  • In front of 100,000 people and for a global audience of 1.5 billion.
  • In a way, the arrogance of this performance is amazing: only a Rock Star could expect this to work.
  • It didn’t.
  • John Paul Jones–who Wikipedia says was there, but has received no close-ups yet–is playing with Tony Thompson on stage right; Jimmy Page is playing with Phil Collins on stage left; Robert Plant is in the middle wearing at outfit from Chess King and praying that he will wake up from this nightmare, and he is also singing an octave down from where he used to and it sounds like a boring man vomiting.
  • Oh, thank God it’s over because now we get to hear Robert Plant address the crowd: he asks if they have any requests, and–apparently enjoying his joke–asks the same thing three more times.
  • Robert Plant was always a dipshit, but he looked like this:
  • And you really don’t have to be witty when you look like that.
  • But in 1985, at Live Aid, he looked like this:
  • And the Golden God routine had a bit of tarnish on it.
  • So they start Whole Lotta Love, which is a dreadful song I’ve always hated, and Jimmy Page is still out of tune.
  • Did he only bring one guitar to Philadelphia?
  • I know he owns many.
  • Did he not want to pay to check them on the plane?
  • Jimmy Page is so out of tune that Garcia from 1971 was giving him the stink-eye.
  • And this is where the true train wreck begins: Rock and Roll is easy to fake your way through for a drummer, but Whole Lotta Love has a specific groove to it.
  • Phil Collins does not know the specific groove.
  • So he just plays straight time, with the backbeats on the two and the four.
  • That is not how Whole Lotta Love goes.
  • Y’know the part where the drumsĀ  go WHOMP WHOMP, and then Jimmy Page goes BADEEDLE DEEDLEWHEEDLEDEEDLE?
  • (They do that part two times.)
  • Well, Phil Collins did not know that part, and so he just kinda stopped playing for a bit and watched Tony Thompson (who did know how the song went) and then Phil Collins said to himself, “Hey: I’m Phil fucking Collins,” and commenced bashing on his kit without a care in the world.
  • When they all try to come back into the song, it’s hilarious.
  • Remember when the Dead would come back into the song from the Playing Jam?
  • Exactly like that, but the Dead were never surprised when it happened: they had lived through train wrecks before.
  • But Robert Plant was, like, ashen.
  • Utterly humiliated.
  • Jimmy Page is too high and/or drunk to care.
  • John Paul Jones may or may not be there.
  • John Bonham remains dead, and an asshole.
  • Yup, they’re both out of tune.
  • Ugh, Stairway to Heaven.
  • The worst Mott the Hoople song is better than Stairway.
  • Is it because I loved Led Zeppelin so as a 15-year-old that I despise them so now?
  • Jimmy Page plays without intent, or at least he did at this show: it’s not sloppy because that’s the choice he made, it’s sloppy because he’s failing to hit the right notes at the right time.
  • (I really don’t know if I want to do Thoughts on the Led Zep, but I do enjoy saying mean things about them; it might happen.)
  • It’s been years, maybe decades, since I actually listened to Stairway.
  • Have these always been the words?
  • They are not good words.
  • Even if sometimes they do have two meanings.
  • Oh, don’t say it, Robert.
  • Don’t.
  • Have your dignity.
  • “Does anyone remember laughter?”
  • Oh, sweetie.
  • (The crowd cheered. “HE SAID THE THING THAT HE SAID THAT TIME!”)
  • We have not seen Phil Collins since the camera caught him out looking confused and sheepish, and someone has handed Robert Plant a tambourine; he plays it not well; and now the shot is once again of Phil Collins because Live Aid is the First Church of the Infinite Phil Collins, and he is lost again; Jimmy Page’s hair is now out of tune, and John Paul Jones is reported by Wikipedia to be there.
  • And…
  • She’s…
  • Buy-ay-ing…
  • Oh, just get on with it, you preening prick.
  • A.
  • For fuck’s sake.
  • Stair-a-way.
  • Yes?
  • To…
  • SAY IT.
  • Hea-vuuuhhhhhhn.
  • Good night, Philadelphia; there will be no encore.
  • Phil Collins has left the building.

The Winds Of Change May Blow Around You

But that will always be so.

Whole Lotta Nerve

Just listen to the first fifteen seconds, and then tell me what a genius Jimmy Page is again.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Like Queequeg says in Moby Dick, “Rock Nerds gonna Rock Nerd.” Though I explicitly mocked the Rock Nerd impulse to correct, to list, to append, to asterisk, it mattered not. Rock Nerds can’t help themselves, and who can blame them: what’s the point of a twenty-minute lecture on Bernard Purdie unless you can share it with someone?

All Enthusiasts are not Rock Nerds; I do not consider myself one, as I loathe vast swathes of the RN canon. (I can’t stand Captain Beefheart. There: I said it.) Conversely, all Rock Nerds are not Enthusiasts, though I suppose the Dead have by now become one of those bands you have to at least pretend to like. There’s a good bit of overlap though, as the Dead has everything a Rock Nerd loves: overwhelming amounts of details, and lineup changes to keep track of, and semi-apocryphal stories by the bookfull.

Rock Nerds love something so much they can’t keep it to themselves, and that is a thing to envy in this tepid world.

Now: that doesn’t mean you can’t fuck with them just a little bit. As I mentioned: Rock Nerds gonna Rock Nerd, and if you ever want to find out if there’s one in the room with you, just say one of the following words, phrases, or sentences out loud; a Rock Nerd will be speaking to you within moments:

  • Gram Parsons’ corpse.
  • What did Bob Dylan do after the 70’s?
  • Lester Bangs.
  • I wish someone had a prepared list of the five best singles from New Zealand bands.
  • Stacia from Hawkwind.
  • There’s no difference between an mp3 and a FLAC.
  • Muscle Shoals.
  • Led Zeppelin III was their worst record.
  • Stiv Bators.
  • Punk music was invented in England.

Let Me Wash Your Blues Away

The Dead tried to exit a gig in high fashion just once. In both concept and execution, the plan was flawed.

“Has anyone seen how Led Zeppelin does it?” Bobby said to the others as they stood outside Front Street. It was Spring, so the Dead were having their charity car wash to benefit Ronnie the Sickest Boy in the World. (Ronnie’s existence was limited to a picture of child actor Ron Howard that Mickey had cut out of a magazine: the money was going towards Billy’s gambling debts.)

Garcia stopped soaping up a Camaro.

“Like, musically?” Garcia said.

Billy, who instead of helping was just hucking rocks at people and cars, which–according to Wikipedia–is the mathematical opposite of helping.


“No, guys: exitaciously.”

“That’s not a word, Bobby,” Phil said. He had just returned, having crawled into the back of a station wagon getting washed, falling asleep, waking up in San Luis Obispo, scaring the shit out of the lady owner, finding out she was a Deadhead, receiving a beej, falling asleep again, getting the shit scared out of himself by the lady, eating a roast beef sandwich she had prepared, disliking the roast beef sandwich, wondering what the proper percentage to eat as not to be rude, deciding on 60%, hitting 50%, calling it a day, asking for another beej, settling for a tugger, catching a ride back, inserting himself into a conversation as if nothing had happened, correcting Bobby’s grammar.

“I have asked you time and time again not to correct my grammar or my syntax. One more time and I’m going to HR.”

“Didn’t we make Otis the head of HR?”

“Then he’ll definitely be on my side, won’t he?” Bobby said. Proud of his latest win in a game of office politics that only he was playing, Bobby went back to the cars, bending over every so often to give the neighborhood dads a peek at the goods. Such pervs, Bobby thought. Gross.

The next car to pull in snapped Bobby out of his Lolita-inspired reverie. It was blasting Zep: the song they stole from a black guy and slapped some doofus bullshit lyrics about elves on.

“Our exit!” Bobby cried.




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