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Zharth's Music Log

Week 21: Blue Zeppelin

Preface: I'd say it's about time we get the Led out. Surprising we came this far without doing it. Christmas season seems to be known for great happiness as well as great sadness, as the people with, celebrate, and the people without, mope about. I think I can cover both bases by playing Led Zeppelin tunes that are steeped in the introspective tradition of the blues. Remember, the blues is a healer.

Monday (12/10/07): You Shook Me [Led Zeppelin, 1969]
Comments: Led Zeppelin's debut album as a whole is known for being steeped in the blues, and this is one of the bluest tracks. Originally a Muddy Waters tune, and likely infused with some of Elmore James' musical stylings, the song's crowning achievement is the sublime communication between Plant's voice and Page's guitar. That was one of the primary factors that initially blew me away and got me into Led Zeppelin.

Tuesday (12/11/07): I Can't Quit You Baby [Led Zeppelin, 1969]
Comments: It always amazes me that this track isn't as popular as it is incredible, but I suppose it's more blues and less rock than the rest of the album. This is definitely one of my top three bluesy Zep tracks. The song itself, originally recorded by Otis Rush, is great, but in this version, Plant's intro scream is rousing and Page's licks are fluid. "You built my hopes up so high, then you let me down so low; don't you realize, sweet baby, woman, I don't know which way to go."

Wednesday (12/12/07): The Lemon Song [Led Zeppelin II, 1969]
Comments: A reworking of Howlin' Wolf's Killing Floor, named after a line from a Robert Johnson tune, Zep's Lemon Song has a terrific groove. The bass is incredible, and the whole thing shuffles along with such confidence, relaxed, yet powerful. This is "tight but loose".

Thursday (12/13/07): Since I've Been Loving You [Led Zeppelin III, 1970]
Comments: Once and forever my favorite bluesy Zep song, this is, as I'm sure you've heard me say countless times, the song that inspired me to go out and buy my first guitar. This is less "cool" blues and more "soul" blues, although, to call it anything less than cool would be a crime. The emotion is intense, in both Plant's voice and Page's guitar. Fantastic.

Friday (12/14/07): When The Levee Breaks [Untitled, 1971]
Comments: An incredible rebirth of the folk blues original by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie, this song, with the immortal drum beat, has a way of hypnotizing you with its sound. The lyrics document the monumental movement of the blues from the delta to Chicago, where the music was electrified and partly fueled the birth of rock 'n' roll. Plant's harmonica adds a nice flavor. "Cryin' won't help ya, prayin' won't do you no good; when the levee breaks, mama, you got to move."

Saturday (12/15/07): In My Time Of Dying [Physical Graffiti, 1975]
Comments: Page picks up the slide guitar for this tour de force, that's somewhere between a gospel blues holler and an epic rock powerhouse. It just gets heavier and faster as it rolls on, like a heapin' locomotive that lost its breaks, until it finally careens into an explosive finish that ironically ends in a light-hearted and playful manner. All in all, a wild ride.

Sunday (12/16/07): Tea For One [Presence, 1976]
Comments: This amazing track is the third of my "top three" bluesy Zeppelin songs, and is also the most original. Page's guitar weaves a beautiful tapestry of pain and sorrow while Plant wails about lost love and hurtful choices in life. Presence is a unique album for Zep, in that it's less diverse than the rest of their catalogue, but anyone who doesn't recognize the rock epic Achilles Last Stand and the blues ballad Tea For One for what they are, is missing out on a hell of a lot. "How come twenty four hours, baby, sometimes seems to slip into days; a minute feels like a lifetime, baby when I feel this way."