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Valhalla, I am Coming!

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You’ve probably seen the Viking kitties by now. Cute little flash kittens in Viking horns acting out Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. The words pop up in bubbles in the song goes on.

Wow. Seeing those words in print again brought on a flood of memories and a fit of giggles.

There was a time when I considered Led Zeppelin to be gods. Most people my age went through that phase. We quoted lyrics left and right and debated the meaning behind each song. Plant and Page were geniuses, deep thinkers, philosophers.

Yea, right. What passes for deep thinking to a 14 year old mesmerized by heavy guitars and pounding rythms and Robert Plant’s hair turns into foolishness and pretension when you take away the haze of few joints and flights of teenage fancy.

The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

Did we really sing these lyrics out loud? Valhalla, I am coming? How did we not break into fits of laughter when we said those words?

On we sweep with threshing oar

We must have been really stoned.

Sure, they had plenty of tunes that were about love and sex and things other than faeries and Norse gods. But those weren’t the lyrics that were endlessly debated. Those were not the lyrics quoted as if they were the mantra of your life.

We sang The Battle of Evermore as if we were story tellers. We felt the pain, the despair, the anguish. Oh, we were so deep, so in tune with our lyrical heroes.

Queen of Light took her bow, And then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, And walked the night alone

You know, we had no idea what they were going on about. It just sounded good. It sounded like poetry. It sounded deep. In turn, we thought it made us sound scholarly and deep when we sat around ruminating about the Prince of Peace and his Queen.

Our favorite song at one point was No Quarter:

The winds of Thor are blowing cold.
They’re wearing steel that’s bright and true

Maybe our Tolkien-drenched minds kept us from finding the lyrics to be amusing and pretentious, like I do now. We were living in this outer realm, where hobbits existed and wars were fought between inhuman creatures. Plant knew that, he knew the mindset of the kids those days. And he played on it. Either that or he did a lot of acid.

Now, forgive me for this next part. I know that some of you consider Stairway to Heaven the Greatest Song Ever. I sure did back in the day. But please, look at these lyrics.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.

One summer night, five of sat on the open tailgate of a someone’s mom’s station wagon, parked in the last row of a drive-in theater (double feature: Kentucky Fried Movie and Groove Tube). For two hours, we discussed the meaning behind the lyrics to that song, spending an awful lot of time on the “bustle in your hedgerow” line. We each had a different interpreation of the song. We each took our own meaning from it. And that was deep, man. I mean, wow…they spoke to each one of us in a different way. How fucking cool!

It was only years later that I realized the words probably mean nothing except that Robert Plant read a lot of books. He strung some thoughts and words from his favorite novels together, mixed them in a blender and called it Stairway to Heaven.

When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

Anyone care to explain that line? To be a rock and not to roll. They revisited that theme again in The Rover with the line You got me rockin’ when I ought to be a-rollin’, which took on a decidedly different tone than the rock and the roll from Stairway. Maybe he was just running out of words at this point, a consideration to be taken seriously when you realize that the next Zep album was Presence.

Led Zeppelin did not own the rights to bizarre lyrics passing as genius writing abilities. We enshrined Genesis (the Gabriel years) in the same manner.

From Supper’s Ready:
Wandering through the chaos the battle has left,
We climb up a mountain of human flesh,
To a plateau of green grass, and green trees full of life.
A young figure sits still by the pool,
He’s been stamped human bacon by some butchery tool.
(He is you.)
Social Security took care of this lad.
We watch in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower
.

Any old school Genesis fan worth his salt knows what comes next.

A flower?

Want more? From I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe:

When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench,
I can always hear them talk.
Me, I’m just a lawnmower – you can tell me by the way I walk

We used to recite that line over and over! Some days it was all we said. Genius! Brilliance! We each claimed to know exactly what they meant by that but none of us had a damn clue as to what the hell they were talking about. But saying that you knew, that you understood the depth and layers of Genesis made you look smart and brilliant in your own right.

And who could forget Squonk? There isn’t a long-time Genesis fan alive who can’t recite the end of the song:

The is of a very retiring disposition and due to its ugliness, weeps constantly. It is easy prey for hunters who simply follow a tear-stained trail. When cornered it will dissolve itself into tears. True or False?

What the hell? How did I ever think those were inspiring, thoughtful words?

Better yet, tell me why I feel so melancholy when I hear these songs. Is it just the memories of those youthful days? Or was there really something to the music and lyrics that my old age just can’t see anymore? Have I gotten too old to appreciate underlying themes and visions? Should I start smoking pot again? Do I need to take Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or Physical Graffiti and listen for the subtext and meanings that I swear are not there?

Stay tuned for the next installment, when I explain why Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden is a blowhard.

This piece orginally appeared at A Small Victory

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About Michele Catalano

  • http://oakhaus.blogspot.com/ Bill Sherman

    Just a few years’ earlier and it was the Moody Blues: “Breathe deep, the gathering gloom” Sounded cool stoned, sitting on the edge of yer twin-sized dorm bed . . .

  • Kenan Hebert

    I keep telling people that Led Zeppelin was NOT the greatest band ever, but they don’t believe me. Good to see I’m not completely alone, at least.

  • Eric Olsen

    Led Zeppelin may have been a great ROCK group, but they never played one measure of rock ‘n’ roll. Because of its suppleness, contact with reality, intimate connection to the body, rock ‘n’ roll will be considered a great art form 100 years from now. Rock will not.

  • http://www.theamericanmind.com Sean Hackbarth

    Alright Eric, I’ll bite. What’s the difference between Rock and Rock n’ Roll?

  • Eric Olsen

    Rock ‘n’ roll is the music created in the ’50s when rockabilly and R&B were melded. The music has a rhythmic groove. Regardless of its place of origin, it is profoundly American. Rock came along some time in the later 60s with the proto metal of Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, LZ, and is European in its lack of rhythmic swing. It’s the difference between Charlie Watts and John Bonham.

  • http://www.pete.gontier.org/blog.shtml Pete

    There’s a difference, but you haven’t identified it. You’re referring to what I call the “fuck beat”. It’s in Immigrant Song but not in, say, Pachelbel’s Canon. You’re better off considering whether pretense makes the difference. (I happen to like pretense in moderation.)

  • Eric Olsen

    Pete, You can have pretentiousness in rock ‘n’ roll and vice versa; no I think the difference is the beat. “Immigrant song” has a strong riff, but no groove, no swing – it’s rock. There is no rock ‘n’ roll in LZ.

  • Kenan Hebert

    Maybe pretentiousness isn’t the criterion (depending on how you define that sticky word), but I don’t think “groove” or “swing” have much to do with it, either. The difference between Charlie Watts and John Bonham is bombast. Bombast is not volume, mind you — The Stooges lack bombast, while Led Zep wallow in it, and both are loud as hell. Bombast is the difference between Iggy’s haircut and Robert Plant’s. One is loud and raw, and the other is loud and self-consciously big.

  • http://www.eddriscoll.com Ed Driscoll

    Michele,

    At least you didn’t write a postmodern arch-feminist book written in the dense style of rococo academia about Led Zeppelin.

    What a bear that thing was to wade through.

    (Incidentally I agree with your post 100 percent: Robert Plant’s lyrics were silly. But I’m naive enough to still think that Jimmy Page, at his peak, was one helluva guitarist and producer.)

    Ed

  • Eric Olsen

    My friends, I would still it all comes down to rhythm: attitude, personality, delivery style are all factors, but rhythm is the foundation of the difference.

  • http://www.j.com j

    What a bunch of morons…get a life.

  • Samantha Laserson

    excuse me if i’m mistaken, but led zeppelin was MUSIC, and fuck, why label it so harshly? rock, rock and roll, what’s the FUCKING difference? can you honestly write a song as beautiful as the rain song, or as heavy as dazed and confused, or as melancholy drenched as “since i’ve been loving you”? please oh please lay off, you are the true destructors of good music. who cares what it is, it’s music, people like it for a reason, you obviously loved it at one point in your life, did the interest for spiritual harmonies fade with your youth? sure, you may say you grew wiser, but I say you grew more critical. Led Zeppelin is music, fuck, just leave it at that.

  • adam

    hey michelle…i bet you couldn’t write anything close to the worst works of zeppelin. it doesn’ take anythign to be a critic! your a scumbag.

  • http://asmallvictory.net michele

    That’s “you’re.” YOU’RE a scumbag.

    One L in my name, not two.

    anything, not anythign.

    thanks for playing.

  • http://www.simplyled.net keith

    No Rock n Roll in Led Zeppelin; what!!?!?!

    How about the 25 minute Whole Lotta Love medleys they played during *every* show in the early 70’s? These medleys were stuffed full of Elvis numbers et al. You are missing all of John Bonham subtleties and just hearing the Hammer Of The Gods! That’s the point…Zeppelin could be anything they wanted to be, whenever they wanted to do it.

    Keith.

  • ZoSo

    First of all it was “Battle of Evermore” not battle of “Nevermore.” So this would lead one to believe that you were never a Zep fan to begin with, cause no zep fan would make that mistake. You were simply saying you were once a fan to make it sound more credible to bash them. Second, you laugh at the lyrics “Valhalla I am coming” and you have the right to, but personally such lyrics in todays age are verrrry refreshing. Todays music is full of “teen angst” type lyrics and over bearing mellow dramatic luvvy lyrics. Rock today consists mostly of monotone low vocals and sloppy power cords with unimaginative riffs. With all that said, to hear lyrics about mythology, tolkien, ect. along with a singer who has depth, and a band with true insturmental talent is not laughable, but refreshing. If anything i laugh at shit like “go go go, its you’re birthday” and “please stand up, please stand up.” Not lyrics like “and as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls” and “meet me jesus, meet me, meet me in the middle of the air. If my wings should fail me lord, please meet me with another pair. I don’t see those as “silly” i see todays music as silly. And just because YOU can’t figure out what the lyrics to stairway mean doesnt mean they are just something Plant threw together. He was brilliant in writing this song, look at all the conversation it has created.And he has been brilliant by not coming out and saying what its meaning is, its best to leave a song to be interpeted in many ways. Some think its about drugs http://www.spookypie.com/stairway.html ,some think its about the Bible http://www.divinesongs.com/Stairway/lyric1.htm ,and im sure there are other interpretations as well. Just because YOU personally don’t know what “Bustle in your hedgegrow” means, doesn’t by default mean Plant must of slapped a few random words together and sang. These lyrics are deep ok, and some people don’t like deep lyrics and thats fine. But zep also had very blunt straight forward lyrics. So you would laugh at something like “Valhalla I am coming” (Valhalla-The palace of immortality, inhabited by the souls of heroes slain in battle.) But not “Hey, hey, mama, said, the way you move
    gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove.” Or maybe you would laugh at that too, therefore making both deep and blunt lyrics laughable to you. And for the guy who said “Zofo”…you also seem like someone who never really liked them, and just want to seem credible to bash. Because it’s “ZoSo” not “ZoFo.”

  • ZoSo

    Also, ever heard of “paralysis through analysis?” Some people simply like Zeppelins sound ok. There is a reason they are one of 2 bands to ever go “diamond” in sales. People love their blusey rock/celtic/folk sound. They don’t sit back and scrutinize(SP?) the lyrics. Anyhow I would much rather hear a guy sing about vikings and mythology rather than gangs,hoes, and drinking 40’s.

  • Plant’s DN Gibson SG

    I agree with Zoso. Furthermore, although it may seem extremely mature for you to recount over childhood days listening to music that you now fell is beneath you, I’m sure most people will be of the opinion that you probably don’t deserve to have listened to them, ever. You sound like the kind of person who has lost their faith in music, who would say “fair play to Avril Lavine, she’s done really well for her age” Don’t listen to The Battle of “nevermore” then, infact, don’t listen to any Led Zeppelin, I really don’t care, just don’t give me this ‘I’m sooo over such childish music’ shit.

  • http://www.ultimateinsult.net Scott

    I like Zeppelin’s music, but damn, you have to admit the lyrics are pretty stupid. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, 3,000,000 Metallica fans can’t be wrong, right?

  • SCOTTO

    Damn,Scott.You have to admit your pretty fucking stupid.There’s no accounting for taste.

  • SCOTTO

    Eric,your pretty fucking stupid too.Oh,I posted that before,and schooled your ass on “swing” and Bonzo’s superior talent.You of course responded by removing my post.Will James have to prove himself a fucking idiot again?Zeppelin’s not rock and roll?And your not very intelligent.Kenan has no more of an idea what “groove” or “swing” is than your stupid ass.You two should get together and see if you can figure out how to wipe your asses.Take all the time you need.

  • Eric Olsen

    As far as stupidity goes, if you can’t feel the difference beteen Led Zeppelin and Chuck Berry, you are subsentient. And as far as Bonham, he was great at what he did, but even on a reggae tune like “D’yer Maker” he pounds the hell out of his kit as if he was killing large spiders. LZ is the very foundation of “rock” and is not “rock ‘n’ roll” – why is that so hard to comprehend. I think maybe 10 months is long enough to wrap your feeble brain around that notion.

  • Ayne

    It is, however, amusing to watch ZoSo et al take Led Zeppelin and pop music so seriously. Or, for that matter, mistake ripping a few lines from books as ‘inspiring’ or ‘deep.’ Not to mention missing the point entirely. Rock music is entertainment boys and girls…not a mirror into Campbellian mythos. And that was the point she was making: trying to grasp deeper meaning from something like stairway to Heaven when there’s absolutely nothing deep or profound about it is an exercise in pretentiousness. But anyone flaming an article like this seems to have pretention (not to mention a pronounced lack of a sense of humour) in spades.

  • Steve

    Jesus people leave it alone…Zep was amazing. More than you’ll ever amount to. This is all a bunch of crap. Good music, is good music. Rock N’ Roll is the same as Rock. You’re trying to pick at the negative sides of Zep while not realizing the mass outnumbering of the positive sides. You are a waste of human beings.

  • G

    I can’t tell you how deep Led Zeppelin’s lyrics are or what genre they should be grouped in, but take a look at this band’s success. Something about the music they made and the lyrics Plant sang caused Led Zeppelin to emerge as the ultimate winner.

  • Anton

    Personally, I feel sorry for anyone that wastes time contemplating the meaning behind the lyrics of songs, analysing and over analysing, any idiot (even myself as a teenager) understood that most songs were just trash put together to sell to the masses, let’s just face it, LZ had their timing right, they had shitty lyrics and a great pop rhythm that caught onto the masses who thought they were following rock n roll…..

    That being said, I love these guys, especially Immigrant song, coz let’s face it, Vikings kick arse, and everytime I listen to it, I smile and think of ruining peoples shit….

    In one way or another, you’re (we are) all ignorant, and so what if lyrics were stolen from books or whatever, “good artists copy, great artists steal”.. i mean get real, I laugh everytime I go to songmeanings.net, (i go there to read an abundance of lyrics, that are well organised and occasionally read peoples interpretations). Man are people dumb, they go on and on about shit that doesn’t matter, look Stairway to Heaven has some dodgey areas, eg. the ones aforementioned about the bustle in the hedgegrow… if you were so fuckin wasted as a teen that you didn’t realise it was put in there just to fill in a song gap, i really feel sorry for you and the genetic material you pass on ie. your children…. but overall, you have to admit, it’s a moving song, if you take out that stupid verse… springqueen for the mayqueen, jesus, you actually thought there was a meaning behind that? haha, now thats hilarious

  • http://www.dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    This could turn into a whole post of it’s own, but it IS amazing when people write comments based on what they thought they read in someone else’s post or comment.

    1. I don’t think Michele was actually slamming LZ on the whole. I bet she still hums along happily when she hears an LZ tune here and there. Yeah the lyrics don’t seem to make sense, but does that make or break a song? Hell no.

    2. When we love something, we don’t question why we love it. Well -wait, I guess we do. But the point is, music is an artistic form or expression, no? Art is subjective, no? But love isn’t rational, it just happens. I think LZ is great, I don’t mind whether it’s Rock with or without the Roll, or Jazz, or Techno Trance.

    3. Speaking of love, and the irrationality of it, You LZ fans that want to rip a new one for Michele — slow down and breathe a minute, would ya? If you disagree with what she says, then sure, mention it. But is it SO necessary to name-call and whatnot?

    4. You might want to pay attention to what Eric O. says, he knows a little something about the music industry. BTW, he’s not saying Rock n Roll is better then Rock – just different. I may disagree with him about Rock not being an art form in 100 years, but who knows? And notice I’m not calling him a $*&^ or a #(*%.

    5. One more thing – what IS so wrong about contemplating lyrics? It’d be nice to have an open mind before doing so, and not reading too much into things – but anyone who’s taken English Lit classes – which is pretty much anyone w/a High School diploma – contemplating meanings behind writings is a way to learn others points of view. Dosn’t mean you have to agree with them.

  • http://asmallvictory.net michele

    Have people shown up here for the third anniversary of this post?

    I love Led Zeppelin. Always have, always will. Which allows me to freely make fun o the lyrics.

  • http://www.dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    LOL holy crap Michele, I saw the date (but not the year) and thought you posted this Yesterday.
    grr..I’m not too bright. I just saw the fresh comment and got into it.

  • http://asmallvictory.net michele

    I think it’s kinda cool that the comments were posted three years to the day! And the one above yours is from today.

  • http://www.dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Yes, I guess that’s why it caught my eye. I don’t know how I would have found the post otherwise.

    It’s funny though, after all my, umm ‘soapboxing’ the people I was writing to, will probably never see what I said.LOL

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    Use it as a time capsule, Michele. How different is your life in those 3 years?

  • http://asmallvictory.net michele

    Three years later, my 12 year old son has become a HUGE Zeppelin fan and can play the solo from Heartbreaker with scary precision.

    How’s that? :)

  • http://www.magicjunk.com/blog/ Mark Sahm

    Indeed. That’s a great solo to play!

    Now just tell him that he doesn’t need to destroy hotel rooms in order to elaborate on his Page impression.

  • Derrick

    ok from the top…. i once heard it said that people fear waht they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer just i don’t understand quantam physics but i can’t say that i whould call it silly and isay this laffing what is the difference between Rock and Rock and Roll and name one band that whould fit into one catagory and not in the other really people trying to sound smart and being smart is too different things Led Zepplin was so many different things blending somany styles it was uncanny Folk Rock,Heavy Metal Blues and as stated above Latin American. i think the problem is people like ZOSO talking about whatthey don’t know just cause you don’t like rap hip hop ect…….dosent mean that you can bash it (makes you a hypocrite)so much crap retoric and jargon was spouted off by more than halve of you on both sides that i have los tmy train of thought in rage. but i am sure that i will be able to comment on another of ur idle blogs

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    God, classic rock sucked.

    That is all.

  • Duane

    I think there should be a lot more songs written about Vikings.

    “How soft your fields so green
    Can whisper tales of gore.”

    You no like?

    What you like now has a lot to do with what you liked when you were a teen. The first time I heard Whole Lotta Love, it was on the car radio. Dad was driving, and got pissed off — actually pissed — and changed the station. LZ were fucking monsters.

  • AM888

    You, sir, are a fucking moron. Led Zeppelin were one of the greatest bands EVER and just because you can’t understand their lyrics doesn’t mean you can sound like you know a lot more than those guys do. I’d like to see you write a song as long as/good as Stairway To Heaven [Deleted]

    Also sometimes lyrics that make no sense whatsoever can still be quite deep and strange, like it absolves you…but whatever you won’t understand go listen to 50 Cent [Deleted]

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    AM888: I doubt you’ll see these words as your charming remarks to Ms Catalano were your first ever visit to BC but, apart from the fact you didn’t even notice her gender (a mistake no LedZep member would have made!), she’s entitled to her view.

    Many lyrics from back in the day are heavy on the poetic imagery but, let’s not forget, this was the hippie era; peace, love, lord of the rings, really bad clothes (anyone still got their loons and cheesecloth shirts?), eastern mysticism, psychedelia was the playground, the rapidly changing sixties and seventies the backdrop.

    Escapism was in, big time, and yeah, some real crap was written. Personally, I love the album “Argus” by Wishbone Ash but after all this time still have very little clue as to what they’re on about!

    I guess you could say Michele missed a few levels, some subtle shades of meaning in her three year old post but hey, she, me, music, the whole damn world has moved on. And yeah, these days, I would prefer to listen to 50 Cent, not cos it’s better art but it’s today’s art, new ideas and feelings, flawed or not.

  • Doc Zepp

    Wow, I found this “blog” by accident, and I am a huge Zeppelin fan. It is because of the music of Led Zeppelin, that I got into so many other “genres” (if that word is allowed here;-) of music. I learned to play guitar on my own because of the inspiration Jimmy Page gave to me, thru his “guitar army” (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) Alot of these comments sound as if you folks are speaking of Zeppelin’s STUDIO recordings. Are those the only versions of Zep songs you’ve ever heard? I have literally 100’s of Zeppelin Concerts, live footage of concerts etc..To understand any genius that is Zeppelin, you must look beyond what can be done in a studio,i.e. ONE GUITAR PLAYER, but 2,3,4 guitar parts. Listen to Jimmy live, and you’ll hear the genius. IT’s abit difficult to play all those guitar parts LIVE, with just one guitar! Man I could go on and on about Led Zeppelin, but it’s obvious precious few, not saying all of you..just few of you really know much about Zeppelin at all.
    Robert Plants lyrics…yet again…you are so missing the point. Do not assume certain lyrics mean anything. Do not forget he is British, and a bustle in your hedgerow, and a springclean for the may queen may not mean anything to you, but it’s an old english tradition, you must really learn a few things before talking or stating how silly or stupid various lyrics are etc..Robert wrote and sang songs about all kinds of things. STH is a song of Hope, as stated by Jimmy Page AND ROBERT Plant…but it means so many different things to so many different people. It can mean whatever you want it to mean as well. THATS the beauty of music. It’s an art form. Often, as with a painting, it can be abstract or straight forward in it’s meaning. Robert sang a song, poured from his heart, to his wife of the time Maureen. (All of my Love)HE sang about his dog and the good times he had with him “Stryder” Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, and maybe I got that wrong, one is Bron-Y-Aur, and one is Bron-Yr-Aur…the spelling makes a difference. One refers to an area in Wales, and one is the name of the cottage in which STH as well as many other great Zep songs were written.
    I didn’t post this to flame or attack ANYONE, I just wanted to share a few things, and there is so much more that could be said. You could spend an entire lifetime trying to figure Led Zeppelin out. You’ll never get it. It’s all relevant in the end. You take what you need from a song and you leave the rest behind. IT doesn’t matter if Bob Wills wrote it, or Perry Como, or Ozzy or Robert Plant or that damn purple dinosaur…lol. You get what you need from the music at the time. It’s different for everyone, at whatever stage of life you may be in.
    Personally, I listen to all forms of music, and I play all forms of music. But for me, it was all because of a few bars of MUSIC I heard coming over an old car radio one night. My life changed on that night. It’s 20 plus years later, and the meanings have changed for me, but not the music.
    Long live Music, in any form.
    Peace all.

  • Craig Fickle

    HAHAHA, I was reading some of your other work as well and I like how you bash Stairway and get all mad at it because it’s hard to dance to. hahaha. Why not bash Black Dog? That song was written so you couldn’t dance to it.

    OK, something you haven’t said is…WHY don’t song lyrics mean anything? All you do is… well i remember when thought it ment this and this and it was cool. But actually it doesn’t mean anything……uhhh…what?

    Plant even said himself, he spent a lot of time on most of his lyrics. Some were just plain and simple and no interpreting, and others were. Even his stuff now has really deep meanings.

    What I don’t understand is why, with absolutely no evidence or real argument for that matter, you go around ruining your love for music and whatnot. It’s just wierd.

    It’s also weird how so many music, rock and not, tell of how mesmorizing some of Zep’s lyrics were. And you always talk about how all your friends would have different interpretations on what lyrics ment. I’m a little confused on this. Isn’t that what poems are? Do you REALLY think that your interpretation of these poems are the only ones? Of course not. But it can mean different things to different people.

    Why can’t lyrics. Is Battle For Everemore not epic enough for you? It talks about the war for evermore….the final battle, good and evil…you know Plant read tons of tolkien and soaked in mysticism and folklore. Why would he not write about it with meaning? You really think that a guy was just high one day and wrote the Battle for Evermore? You really think he was high when he wrote Ramble On? This one really confuses me. You talk about interpreting and whatnot, and then you just say… Oh, gollum stole his girl and ran off….wow……haha…wow

    Well, people like you crack me up. But, if you would prefer to be cranky and hate all the music you once loved… alrighty then

  • Craig Fickle

    Hmmm, Michele, you say you still love Zeppelin and always will? I thought I read somewhere that you hated them now or something. My bad sorry.

    And to address the Rock ‘n Roll thing which I think is funny.. DUH there’s a difference. They are different genres… Silly people.

    And Zep did do some Rock ‘n Roll, some with more of a Zeppelin twist than others, but WHY bash either of them so much? I hate rap and pop and gothic metal, but respect it people. Don’t like it.

    Think of Led Zeppelin here too. They
    loved rock n’ roll as WELL as hard
    rock. They weren’t doing either, they
    were simply playing what they liked.

    And with the groove, a LOT of music now has lost it. But Zeppelin, with so many influences of rock n’ roll and blues, had it on almost every rock song of they played. They had 3 hour plus concerts because they would improvise off the wall. (I’m getting a little bit into why Zeppelin was so succesful which is not why we are here) But have you heard How Many More Times? That is a groove song. And DON’T listen to albums to hear Zep’s sound. When I hear their live, i can barely listen to the album version anymore because of the feel they have.

    And rock and roll is slowly being ‘forgotten’ while Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Who, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath etc are all still huge among many youths. I imagine it will slowly ‘die’ as well though. It’s the sad truth. That’s a good thing about Zeppelin too. They brought so many different genres in. Even if you hate their interpretations of them or like it, but don’t like the origionals, they loved it all. I hate country, rap/hip hop, pop, and heavy metal/gothic, and love everything else. Those genres i still respect thought it’s hard for me to find the musical genius, maybe not country but man i hate it, in it. But i still do.

    If people go around seriously bashing and hating and refusing to like or respect songs, bands, and genres, which i do NOT believe is what Michele was/is trying to do, then you have no room to talk.

    Music is and odd and simply amazing thing. We are all affected by it and love it. Even when we are little kids we love it. We can remember tunes, rhythms, and lyrics so well. I think it’s time people start appriciating ALL types of music. Well, i’m done rambling for a while

  • Fernando,

    In Spanish.

    Los Beatles deberían de arrodillarse ante los LED ZEPPELIN.

    Saludos.

  • Normy

    1. I CAN dance to Black Dog
    2. I found this website while doing a search on “Valhalla Led Zeppelin.” I was listening to the song and I wondered if anybody had written any comments on the strange lyrics to “Immigrant Song.” I guess I got my answer.
    3. Lyrics are over-rated. That’s why I don’t enjoy country music much. Nearly every country song is trying to tell you a story. Just let me enjoy the music, will ya? I love Zeppelin, and many of the lyrics are interesting, inspiring and curious. But the reason I really enjoy and appreciate Zeppelin is because of the variety of musical styles they play. Furthermore, the lyrics of Immigrant Song (and most LZ songs) fit with the rhythm, tone and style of the song.
    4. My comments above are true, but mostly I’m posting because I’d hate to see this thread die after just 4½ short years.

  • http://fasterthantheworld.com michele

    Thanks for keeping the thread alive, Norm!

  • Nick

    Michele, the problem is that you assume ‘silly’ and ‘profound’ are mutually exclusive. Quite simply, Led Zeppelin’s lyrics are both.

    The easiest song to see this in, I think, is Kashmir. Lyrics such as “I am a traveler of both time and space” and “I’ve been flyin’, ain’t no denyin'” certainly sound ridiculous, but they also help carry the idea of the narrator’s peace and understanding achieved through travel.

    Some songs, though, obviously don’t work into my theory. It’s hard to find any deep message in ‘The Battle of Evermore,’ and ‘The Immigrant Song’ might just be a kickass song about vikings. But plenty of other bands (Flaming Lips, anyone?) end up sounding both silly and profound, and Led Zeppelin seems to fit in well with the description.

  • bobby

    Rock’s greatest band is dismissed because some of their lyrics were not profoundly deep enough for you. Do you not understand that most of the greatest rock and roll is hardly Shakespeare. Crap on Zeppelin all you like. This does not change the fact that their music is timeless, magnificent and enduring.Label them a band to leave with your adolescence if you like. You are ignoring the fact that millions of those kids are in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s and they still love, revere and recognize the genius of Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin in fact are the only band that command intense large scale loyalty among three generations of fans. This was the most gifted rock band ever assembled, and they created a unique legacy of brilliantly rich and varied music that more than stands up to anything before or since. Go listen to some Little Richard or Chuck Berry lyrics and then pontificate on the profound relevance and meaning of Tooty Fruity ect.

  • anonymouse

    re: STH. one of many interpretations:)
    “bustle in your hedgerow” is a sort of humming or buzzing in your head. a higher frequency. (the “whispering wind”). not to be afraid of “don’t be alarmed now”. Light-workers and others pick up on this as a call or “tune/Piper” (pipe up to it) to be heeded as it signals higher consciousness or perception of the Oneness we all share, (apprehension of the big picture) “all is one and one are all”. re: The May Queen…this might help: “Love is the sacrament of life; it sets Virtue where virtue was not; cleanses men Of all the vile pollutions of this world; It is the fire which purges ‘gold’ from dross, (spiritual alchemy). It is the ‘spring’ which in some wintry soil, Makes innocence to blossom like a rose.”– Oscar Wilde.
    Or how about: “And the Lady of the River gives Her lifeblood to one and all. As the wheel of the seasons turn, oh my Lady, I hear your call.” And how about, “Hark, hark how the flower-bird Winds her wee horn! The swallow’s glad shriek is heard All through the air; The stock-dove is murmuring Loud as she dare. Apollo’s wing’d bugleman (Greek god of the West, Sun, and Reason) Cannot contain, But peals his loud trumpet-call Once and again.” “GENTLY!—gently!—down!—down! From the starry courts on high, Gently step adown, down The ladder of the sky…Breathe them loud, the Queen descending, Yet a lowly welcome breathe, Like so many flowerets bending Zephyr’s breezy foot beneath.” (Greek god of the west wind). — George Darley. The May Queen is also known as The Lady of the flowers, the maiden, goddess of spring, flower bride, faerie queen. “And the forests will echo with laughter.”: “The common defect of all mystical systems…is that there has been no place for Laughter.” — A. Crowley. He also wrote a poem called “The May Queen” which I haven’t read. “misgiven” and “two meanings” may refer to our ego-driven thoughts which are of little consequence in the great scheme of things. Better to be still and listen to the “whispering wind” which we’ve lost in our penchant for materialism. “to be a rock and not to roll” is a British term. Robert has said: “there’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold” … she’s going to get exactly what she wants … “and when she get’s there she knows if the stores are all closed” … it’s like she can have anything forever so long as she doesn’t have to think about it.” –RP.
    The short story could be: you can’t buy your way into heaven.
    With credit to “dmdeleted”, Z O F O is the Guardian Angel of White Magic.
    well, coffee break over…back to work!

  • JC Mosquito

    Re: #14 (Norm) – David Byrne of Talking Heads once said lyrics are just a trick to get you to listen to music.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Has this thread really been going for five years? Crikey…!

    The lyrics of Led Zeppelin are poetry. Not necessarily good poetry, but so they are. Now as the discussion on the meaning of the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” gets farther and farther fetched, let me point out that poetry does not have to “mean” anything. Or it can mean a million different things to a million different people. What matters is that it arouses a response in the listener, stirs an emotion, strikes a chord. I can appreciate “Stairway” (which is indeed, I can confirm from my own personal research, the greatest pop song ever recorded ;-) ) just for the way the words are put together, without having to worry about whether they make any sense or have any particular meaning. The phrases “a bustle in your hedgerow” and the almost-rhyme “springclean for the May Queen” are unusual and pleasant-sounding enough to conjure a mental picture and start whatever story you want to tell to yourself inside your head. “To be a rock and not to roll” plays skilfully with a well-known expression and hints at some perceptive insight that may or may not be there.

    The lyrics of classic 50s rock ‘n’ roll, though, are by and large not poetry. A boy loves a girl, or vice versa, and that’s pretty much it. There’s no hidden subtext, so a rock ‘n’ roll song gets stale after not too many listens, and it takes an extraordinarily talented musician – an Elvis Presley or a John Lennon – to inject anything extra into it.

    Plant, Page and the others were young and stoned and doubtless believed that they were writing something deep and meaningful. Maybe they were wrong. But they certainly knew how to work with words.

    Even if you disagree with that assessment it’s hard to dispute that they were great musicians. A Led Zeppelin track listened to today sounds as fresh and inventive as the day it was written. Although they weren’t a heavy metal band themselves, there’s a case for arguing that they invented that genre, as their influence is obvious in the early sound of metal pioneers like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

    As far as whether Led Zep were a rock band or a rock ‘n’ roll band, well, such labels are fluid. I’ve heard Britney Spears referred to as a “rock” star. These days, rock is usually understood to include a broad spectrum of popular music genres, including rock ‘n’ roll. Labels even come to denote something entirely different from their original meaning. R & B, for example, used to be a type of southern rock music, heavy on the blues. Now it is a sub-genre of soul.

  • Damico

    shut the fuck up already

  • Joe

    Dear Michele, You certainly have generated a lot of comments from your website. It also sounds like you had some great teenage years. When I was 16 I too thought rock lyrics had great meaning. Too bad we have to grow up. Another overrated song writer is Neal Young. A lot of lyrics are really lame, such as “A man needs a maid.” Bottom Line: I love your website.

  • Seth Shepherd

    Just wanted to say, I am only 20 years old, and i went through a rediculous Zeppelin phase pretty much all through high school. I understand what you are talking about. Those words used to give me the chills, but I just don’t get that anymore. But I actually don’t get that from any music anymore. I think it has something to with growing out of a phase.

    HOWEVER, what do you think about maybe Going To California? I swear that song amazes me to this day.
    And I don’t smoke pot, and didn’t when I was in highschool. I think there really is something there in at least some Zeppelin tunes. But I definately understand your point about some of their lyrics.

    But honestly, what lyrics to make any sense?

  • Seth Shepherd

    Most of the poetry I read in high school was a little far fetched to begin with. As others have said, it’s pretty much the meaning you put into it. Our English teacher in high school would talk about one line for an entire class period. I remember we analyzed a poem called The Red Wheelbarrow. We spent an entire class on it. It has excellent imagery, and I actually liked it, but we spent 50 minutes talking about hidden meanings. The poem is 16 words divided into 4 lines and it is absolutely amazing to some people.

    It’s all a matter of your point of view I guess. That’s why some people here can analyze every word of stairway and it makes perfect sense to them.

  • Ry Cooder

    And who cares about the lyrics? The real soul of Led Zeppelin was Jimmy Page.

  • Cathy

    Wow a five year old thread. Pretty cool. Guess Zeppelin inspire some kind of passion in people, which is the opposite of overrated… Ok, yes some of their lyrics are silly, they were written by a couple of 20 somethings, after all. But “Stairway to Heaven” is not in that category. Just becuase you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have profound meaning. I’ll gladly live in a world where the forests echo with laughter, spiritual truth is found in the wind (not at the mall), and heaven is found in music. Whoops, getting carried away with pretentiousness, no doubt… what I really wanted to say is, anyone who can seriously say Zeppelin never played a bar of straight rock ‘ n roll, that Bonzo had no subtlety, that Jones/Bonzo/Page couldn’t swing like fuckin’ crazy, or that The Riff Master has never grooved, has just not listened to any live Zeppelin. Plant wept to meet Elvis; Page picked up guitar because of Scotty Moore. You are mistaken if you believe their souls are not steeped in rock ‘n roll. Get thee to a live album/DVD/bootleg, and rock on.

  • bla bla rollo rollo

    LZ rules!!

  • http://tinyurl.com/265bc9 I Was There

    Any band that can come back together for a gig after so long (ok the drummer isn’t the same but shares DNA), have their songs stand the test of time and TOTALLY blow all current bands away are Gods in my book. Totally immortal. Utterly without parallel.
    Anyone who was lucky enough to be there KNOWS.

  • http://www.boggis.com johnny boggis

    music is music, it speaks to the soul.
    yes, some lyrics are…. let’s say, odd.
    mozart suited the youth of his day, led zep the youth of theirs.
    the cure suited my youth….
    “The stench of a love
    for a younger meat
    And the sound that it makes
    When it cuts in deep”
    yeah, that’s certainly odd.
    but hey, maybe this thread will stay alive as long as music has!
    let’s hear it for another 5 years of this thread!!!
    like music,
    it shall be
    eternal.

  • Anonymouse

    Going To California is about a trip to the astral realms. essentially we are made up of love (I know from experience) when the ego is given up. the trip may have been drug induced, hence “jet plane”. he’s searching for his Soulmate/ TwinSoul/ queen “out there”. she may or not be incarnated with him at this time. you’re mind goes through a grey area, and you are in the Now moment from moment to moment… there’s no thoughts of past or future hence “tommorrow could every follow today”. If you have negative thoughts or earthly yearnings, you can fall out of or sink out of this state. “I’ll meet you up there where the path”… the affinity chat line thread we’re all essentially connected to. “ride a white mare” is Pegasus, the Lover’s horse. “footsteps of dawn” or “dome” is the third eye awareness chakra. “born” is her being in the same place metaphysically speaking which she is not yet. while in your bubble or cell in the heart of hearts, you’re leaning up against the greater and would like to surrender to it but can’t quite and it’s a little frustrating; “it’s not as hard as it seems”.
    yes, Robert is a metaphorical genius. Jimmy played much the same theme in “Tangerine”. Kashmir was also about a consciousness trip.

  • Rick

    Fuck you! Led Zeppelin is the greatest music group to walk on this earth!

  • Rick

    Also, John Bonham is the best damn rock (and roll) drummer of all time.

  • Ed

    Lighten up Zepplin is a fun band and there’s no denying the music is great. The Beatles invented it, the Stones innovated it, and Zepplin mastered it. Name one other song from another band where the lyrics are so earh shatteringly brilliant? Even if you write down Dylan’s lyrics they don’t look so impressive if you just read them aloud especially laced with negative criticism. It’s simply a question of does the song do it for you? If it doesn’t anymore that’s ok but don’t pretend like you’re so distinguished and refined because you looked back at when you liked Zepplin and now feel foolish about it and want to bash it. Sounds like a personal problem. You might try learning what made you fun as a kid? Keep on with your current line of thought and you might find nothing but bitterness in your future. Music is supposed to fun! Best of luck to you.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    I can kinda see what Ed is saying but I don’t remember Zeppelin being a “fun” band. I’m pretty sure they took themselves quite seriously. Plus, if people are gonna attach the word ‘Masters’ to their catalog of Rock’N’Roll then I don’t think any reviewer could be so laid back when critiquing their material… But, I guess that’s the back seat mentality music has been given in this country – Why care so much about your passion & musicianship when no one else gives a shit!