I keep coming back to them. It’s been years. They were there when I was fourteen, nineteen, and now, twenty-three – I just keep coming back.
As I grow older and the more I get exposed to music, the more I start to appreciate it. Led Zeppelin feels like finally being able to absorb your favourite book from start to finish, in its entirety. There are things that will only make sense when you know how to make sense of it.
For one, you get to appreciate the incredible distinction of their playing and the absolutely batshit unpolished rawness they exuded, back when heavy music was just starting to rise. Historically speaking, they had paved the path to heavy metal. It was different, new, and the combination of Page’s guitars + Plant’s high-pitched guttural wails was almost like a breath of fresh air – if fresh air smelled like thick cigarette smoke, running beer taps and the occasional cold wind blowing. People loved that shit. It was the era of experimentation, the vast divide between what kind of music was accepted and what wasn’t were slowly closing in, lines were blurring and – I mean – speculations that they were satanic had to follow, obviously. (Although let’s be real, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole band did sell their soul to the devil. Haha.)
But among all the 6-minute solos, the orgasmic moans Plant was fond of doing on stage and JPJ’s incredibly underrated precision on the bass, the one thing I love about them are the sentimental values that seem to come with listening to them.
Their BBC Session was the first album that I’d listened to – and it makes me remember long drives in the car with my father. We used to drive back to Kelantan (that was an 8-hour long drive back then, mind you) and I’d be in the front seat, picking out which album I wanted to listen to and my dad would explain what made the album tick.
He would give me in-depth explanations about them. Like.
“Jimmy Page was in a band called The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. They did okay music but Yardbirds was a stupid name, let’s be honest.”
“Stairway to Heaven was never their signature song. They refused to acknowledge that, even if it was the biggest song they have. It has always been Kashmir. Always.”
All these useless things he’d told me when I was younger now seem like little nuggets of GOOOOOOD ASSS TRIVIA that I can probably use to win The Chase or something but I digress.
Before, I never quite understood how people who loved them could be able to love them. I thought it was noise – especially with the addition of shitty recording and mastering quality back when everything was still analogue and you had to cut and paste everything manually and all that difficult jazz – but I guess the older you get, the more you know and the better your ears get so the easier you get to appreciate the music in its entirety (even the flawed little nuances present), you know?
I remember listening to Stairway for the first time and I fell in love. Completely and utterly in love with the melody – and at this point I realise I’m geeking out over one of if not the biggest rock song in history but you know, I’d imagine other people to have felt the same when they heard it. And being able to play it was my biggest achievement when I was in my teens.
I don’t really know how to end this post. I have many feelings but the biggest one is obviously the sadness of never being able to experience them live. There are many lucky ones who have gotten to watch them do what they do on stage – and that, I consider, is one of the best experiences a person can have.
Ok la let’s not get carried away.
But you know, it’s like that ‘what can never be’ situation. Kinda sucks la not going to lie. Heh.