Just recently, I ripped my entire Zeppelin collection (Zep I, II, III, and IV, Physical Graphiti, Houses of the Holy, and the Boxed Set with the wicked crop circles on the cover) and have been listening to the songs with renewed interest.
I cut my bass teeth on Zep, and was inspired to copy Jaco Pastorius by the song What is and What Should Never Be. Sans frets, I was forced to learn a whole new way of playing bass – and to this day I am equally comfortable on a fretless bass as I am a standard fretted model.
Since I spent so much of my “Zep years” listening to bass lines and melodies, I never paid close attention to the lyrics. Sure, I knew them, but I didn’t give them any sort of deep thought. This recent reintroduction of Zep to my listening repertoire has given me a chance to get familiar with the songs in a whole different way.
Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Battle of Evermore, Ramble On... you get the feeling that Plant was deeply into the Tolkien books when he wrote these songs. Even Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, the end of which features Plant yelling the name of his dog (Strider) over and over again is affected. I had never noticed the connection before, with the exception of Ramble On, which obviously mentions Mordor, Gollum and the Evil One.
I am sure this is old new to most of you, but sometimes I catch on slowly. It made the songs more interesting to me. I first read the Tolkien books when I was really young – I was seven when I read the Hobbit (the dragon on the cover of the book my sister had to read for school intrigued me, so I shadow-read it) and the Lord of the Rings at eight (I made a deal with a much older cousin that if I read the books she would quit smoking). I didn’t get into Zep until I was a teenager.
Pretty fascinating links, nonetheless. It took a movie to bring the Ring to the masses – on the season finale of Will & Grace (I was told, I don’t watch) there was a Hobbit joke, for crying out loud. As always, Zep was ahead of its time, in this case about 30 years.
The link between Zeppelin and Dungeons & Dragons makes so much more sense to me now