While most of you, at this point of time, would be outside with your family, friends, relatives and the long list of my-this and my-that, I am in my room, with Led Zeppelin turned on full blast, thinking of rambling again; you know, bitching about life, people and in general. But why should I be so negative? Upholding my reputation as a cynic doesn’t really count; that I am and the world knows so. There is a limit to Narcissism beyond which it’s just plain gloating. Besides, I’d hate to ruin your moods. Hence, I think I will dedicate this post to what I personally like about Diwali. For a difference.
Since Led Zep is on full blast, let’s talk of that. There’s a fine line of difference between head-banging rock and rock which can very well substitute ecstasy—the narcotic, I mean. Led Zeppelin falls in the latter. Like most aspects of modern life, the markets are flooded with American stuff, most of which is made in China, Cambodia and Laos. In the music scene, however, the Chinese haven’t infiltrated the markets; well, apart from pirated CDs, that is. And one thing which is constant in this state of things is the quality of British products. I mean, look at it this way, British cars are way classier than their American counterparts; the Jaguar, the Aston Martin, the Rolls Royce…need I name any more? And the same goes with the rock music scene. I have very little knowledge of the history of rock-and-roll, and whatever I know is designed to impress people who know nothing of it.
[Ed’s Note: With respect to your quote about everything British being classier than their American counterparts, here’s a quote by Oasis‘ Noel Gallagher in a recent interview: “Take a great American art form, like the blues or rock’n’roll or jazz, put a British spin on it, and everyone goes, ‘Oh yeah, that’s fucking amazing.'”]
So, Led Zeppelin. I was introduced to the band very recently, though I had Stairway to Heaven on my mp3 for quite a bit of time. Well, there’s nothing I can say of it, because words don’t make sense when you’re trying to praise something, unless you’re making things up.
Throughout history, at least in the history of music, there have been individuals, or groups of individuals (commonly known as bands) who come to the scene and change it forever. They leave their legacy behind in the form of records and solos and quite often, controversies. Led Zeppelin, as far as my knowledge goes, did all of the above except the last. So far, I haven’t heard of Jimmy Page or Robert Plant ever doing time, be it for involuntary manslaughter or bouts of alcohol-induced insanity; yes, they might have used cannabis, marijuana, and the likes. But heck, it was the seventies! If you were not a junkie, you were not a creative individual. That was the norm. Sadly, today due to stringent law-enforcement the present generation of composers and musicians visit the jail quite often due to possession. No wonder the music sucks these days. [Mental note: next post, why they should legalise marijuana for musicians].
Back to Led Zeppelin, as I was saying, this was a group of people who got together, and in their Brit accents, decided to change the rock-and-roll music scene forever. The trend was already set by The Beatles earlier in the 60s [with hairstyles which later inspired the character Mr. Spock in Star Trek]. Two of Led Zeppelin’s frontrunners, albeit with very different hairstyles, Page—with his godly guitar skills and that charming smile—and Plant, with vocals that can be described as the auditory equivalent of dope, gave a more heavy-handed nature to rock (hence the name, ‘heavy rock’) which set it apart from The Beatles, and combined it with the Indian influence—the rage of the age, and voila, we saw what the annals of history would call the progenitors of rock-and-roll.
That, of course, wasn’t all that Britain had to offer. The 80s saw Queen, which I would describe as the Generation 1.7 of rock-and-roll. And there was also AC/DC (who I think were Aussies; but since Australia is a former British colony and drives on the left-side of the road, they can, to all intents and purposes, be categorised as “British”, probably much to the annoyance of Jeremy Clarkson). And of course, there’s the Rolling Stones, who — I assume took their name from a Bob Dylan song —represent Brit rock at its very best (they even met the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, you know; not Freddie Mercury and his mates). I am not going into other rock bands like Guns n’ Roses, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, U2 and so forth; not because I don’t like them (though I have heard very little of them) but because the Mothership tracklist is still playing, and I am not in the mood to switch.
There are tracks, or songs, as many would call them, which are brilliant because of the creativity they reflect, because of the painstaking efforts on the part of the musicians who put heart and soul in creating their music. And then there are tracks which become iconic because of the magical state of mind they’re able to transport the listeners to. If you try and analyse exactly why they’re so, you wouldn’t end up with a satisfying answer, because there really isn’t one. You have to listen to it, feel it. And let the music do the rest… transport you to Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, in Plant’s words.
And, heaven knows, I need a Shangri-La amidst this highly irritating cacophony of fire crackers and popular Bollywood songs. So, the volume’s on full, and like I said, I let the music do the rest.
Written by Proshant Chakraborty.