Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Song Remains The Same

My earliest memory of Led Zeppelin, though surely not my first encounter, takes place in the summer of 1994. I had just turned twelve years old and wouldn't go to my first concert until a few months later. Having grown up listening to classic rock radio, I was already familiar with the band's music, but never had the opportunity to experience the albums as a whole. Being on vacation from school, I found myself with an abundance of free time while my parents were away at work. One day, I decided to go down to the basement and dig out the boxes that held all of my dad's old records. Inside I found a wealth of rock and roll treasures, from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. But it wasn't Black Sabbath or Talking Heads I was interested in, today all I wanted was Led Zeppelin.

I quickly grabbed an armful of records and ran up to my bedroom to begin what would become a life-long love affair with the greatest rock and roll band of all time. My arms were tense with anticipation as I put the first platter on my tiny plastic Fisher-Price turntable and pressed record on my boombox, its internal microphone placed as close as possible to the turntable's lone speaker. I sat silently next to my makeshift dubbing operation, experiencing these classic pieces of rock history in their intended form, growing more excited with each tape flip and needle drop. Over the next few days, I worked my way through the catalogue until I had my own crudely-made copy of every album, hiding the records under my bed each night so my dad wouldn't find out I'd been rifling through his prized collection.

Over time, those tapes have all been lost or recorded over, replaced by newer, better versions. But as the years went by and the band's music became more ingrained in my soul with each repeated listen, the one thing I could never get back was the experience of hearing those albums for the first time. Now, at the end of a year-long quest to listen to more Led Zeppelin that I ever had before, I find that the most satisfying result is not the catalogue of reviews I've written or the deeper understanding of the band's dynamic as performers I've gained, but something much greater.

Through the course of the year, I abstained from listening to any of the band's studio recordings until I reached the point of their release in the live chronology. In doing so, I unknowingly fulfilled a dream I've had since those eye-opening afternoons some fourteen years ago. As I listened to each studio album amidst a sea of live recordings, it was as if I was experiencing them for the first time all over again. I heard each song with a renewed freshness and vibrancy, reminding me of exactly why I fell in love with this band and their music so many years ago. This, by far, has been the greatest reward.

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement throughout the year, I couldn't have done it without you all. It means a lot to know that there was such a great interest in a little project that started out as a joke between two friends.

I'd like to dedicate this site to the following people...

To my parents,
for raising me on classic rock radio and always encouraging my musical explorations.

And to Gabby,
for putting up with my obsession.

The End.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awe inspiring review and conclussion, this is it, amazing project, I you owe a lot:

"In doing so, I unknowingly fulfilled a dream I've had since those eye-opening afternoons some fourteen years ago. As I listened to each studio album amidst a sea of live recordings, it was as if I was experiencing them for the first time all over again. I heard each song with a renewed freshness and vibrancy, reminding me of exactly why I fell in love with this band and their music so many years ago. This, by far, has been the greatest reward."

Pure class there, there's passion in that, you're a REAL fan, awe inspiring words....

Jim said...

Think I'll go listen to the albums too! Congrats on getting the job done!

junablogger said...

I too had an religious moment(s) with Zep. It was 1989 and a girlfriend of mine and I watched the Song Remains the Same on 4 hits of windowpane each on a black and white tv and I swear to God, it was in color and 3D.

By far, the greatest band ever. Plants style also produced another of my favs, Shannon from Blind Melon...

Greg said...

Can you believe it has been 3 years?
I figured you would have started listening that year and like most resolutions they go wayside by March.But you did it and you kept up the blog so "THANK YOU"
I was born in what I think is the worst year to be a Zep fan.1965..I first discovered music,girls and Zeppelin in the summer of 1977 in a Chicago suburb.My friend let me borrow his 8-track of Zeppelin 1 and I played it so much I ruined it.It was "How many more times" that drew me in.Zeppelin had already played their last U.S. concert(we didn't know) and I heard how great they were from the older kids.I remember them saying Zep was going to make a swing back thru chitown in the summer of 77 and on some websites you can see the dates but the death of Karac ended that tour.In 1980 Zeppelin was going to come back to the States and it would have been my first concert.Zeppelin took out a full page ad in the paper with a phone number for tickets.They did this because people would camp (for days) out for tickets at the ticketmaster.They sold out 4 chicago stadium shows(80k) in less than an hour.I had 2 tickets but I never received them because 1 week later John would be found dead.I bought "In thru the outdoor" on the day it was released and I remember it came in a brown bag.I even bought "Coda" on the day it was released.
Zeppelin "TSRS" movie was still playing as a midnight movie and our prom's theme was "Stairway to Heaven" Robert's first 3 solo albums were Zeppelin continued but he changed and so did I.

When the BBC recordings were released it was like it was 1977 all over again. Communication Breakdown,Thank You and other songs that I did not think studio-wise were great changed my opinion.In 2003 when the DVD AND "HOW the west was Won" finally gave me a feel on what those older kids were talking about.It left me wanting more and the discovery of the Bootlegs has giving me a renewed love of Led Zeppelin.It is kinda cool listening to them evolve into the biggest band in the world in the 1970's.


If you get a chance check out Jason Bonham's "The led Zeppelin Experience" because after seeing over a dozen Zeppelin cover bands from A whole lotta led to ZOSO Jason's sound is the closest to getting that magical Zeppelin SOUND.

ONce again "THANK YOU" for keeping your reviews up because Rey's book is outdated and out of print.

simon george said...

i was surprised to find the amount of zeppelin blogs that are out there. but then again, who else would there be so many blogs about? i really enjoy this one, great post keep up the hard work. check these out IStillGotMyGuitar

Anonymous said...

I do not even remember how I happened upon you blog, but it is inspiring. I too am a huge Led Zeppelin fan that was unfortunately born well after the death of John Bonham. Watching/listening to the existing live recordings is as close as we will ever get to the real thing, which is quite sad, but in listening to them I can only imagine how mind blowing one of those concerts would have been. You, my friend, are a true fan. Led for life.