Thursday, November 3, 2011

That's The Way...

Led Zeppelin III changed my life...a know, not enough to be the plot of a Cameron Crowe film, but enough to change how I listened to music.

Everyone had 1969's self-titled album, Led Zeppelin, and of course everyone owned Led Zeppelin IV, made famous by Stairway to Heaven, the one song you wished would play last at every high school dance ever, especially if you'd already found the girl to dance with. But no one owned Led Zeppelin one. I didn't know anyone, not under the age of thirty anyway.

First Tangerine caught my attention. Then Since I've Been Loving You kicked my face in, and finally...and perhaps most lovingly, That's The Way stole my music loving heart forever. I never listened to music the same way again. Until that moment I went with the crowd, followed suit. After that, like a blind man groping, I leaned on whatever was most sturdy and handy, and what I inherently trusted. For the rest of my music loving life I looked at Robert Plant and Jimmy Page differently. They became sages, high water marks...that place where the levee broke and it all came rushing in. After That's The Way I realized that real music had no fences around it...had no preconceived expectations built into it. I opened up my head and heart to everything. I didn't need to own the same records that my friends did. My music grew much more personal, much more intimate.

I don't know why I'm typing all this except maybe because I haven't been able to stop listening to it all night tonight, and it reminds me of how much one song can impact your life. If you don't think that a song can save a life, or change the way that you see something...change your mind...snatch you up and make you a better person in 5:44 seconds, well, you need to be paying more attention. Today I talked to a young man who was just discovering Led Zeppelin thanks to his Dad's old record collection. We talked music for the better part of an hour, and like every eager adolescent before him, he was swallowing Led Zeppelin IV first, and was slowly feeling his way around the rest. He was still listening to the records because they were cool, not because they had blown his mind yet. I told him to check out That's The Way, and left it at that. I can't wait to see him next week, and hear what he has to offer. It's crazy to imagine how really great music can have an impact on generation after generation after generation, but it can, and it does. When I first heard Led Zeppelin III I thought I was the only one listening to it. Funny how time makes you realize just how late to the party you were, and just how much better your Dad's record collection was than yours. Hubris makes you believe otherwise...humility convinces you of your stupidity.

I hope Zoey digs the music that she inherits. Maybe she'll get lucky and some grey haired chatterbox at school will implore her to give it a closer listen, and she will, and then she'll feel bad that she ever knew the words to a Justin Bieber song.


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