Dazed and Confused

This song title, “Dazed and Confused,” sums up the ideologies of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, lead singer and guitarist of Led Zeppelin, respectively.

The content of Zeppelin’s songs displays the contrasting viewpoints the band members held.  While spirituality, love, and peace meant a lot to Plant and Page, they participated in very violent, crude, and disturbing affairs.

“Over the Hills and Far Away” is a prime example of Plant’s and Page’s idealism and sort of hippie views.  This song was written while Page and Plant vacationed in a place called Brom Raur in Wales.  The twosome spent time in the woods composing music and writing lyrics.  This sense of nature and adoration of pastoral living was reflected in the sound and lyrics of “Over the Hills and Far Away.” The song title actually derives from a poem in the saga Lord of the Rings.  The band was major LOTR fans.  The hobbits’ lifestyle was ideal to Plant.  In fact, Plant bought a farmhouse and raised sheep on it with his family.  Below is a picture of Plant and his family on his farm:

Plant idealized pre-Industrial society and had a fascination with ancient Celtic history.  He wanted his music to make teens look at the past and learn the wisdom from it.  Unfortunately, most fans didn’t get this message.  One night in LA, a show was canceled to the fans’disappointment.  Out of spite, the fans destroyed the stadium in which the show was to be performed.  This act of violence hurt Plant.  He claimed that this unruly attitude was not the impression he had hoped Led Zeppelin would have on his fans.

“Whole Lotta Love,” “Black Dog,” and “Rock’n’Roll” epitomize Led Zeppelin’s indulgence in a lifestyle of excess.  Though seemingly supporting peace and love, Plant and Page promoted the lustful and dirty kind of love in the mentioned tunes.  “Whole Lotta Love,” which includes Plant’s impression of a girl climaxing, became the finale at their shows on their first tour and remained the climax of the show from then on.  Sometimes, the band would drag out the instrumental section for thirty minutes.  Sex, drugs, and alcohol highly influenced the tour-lives of the band.  Though Plant was happily married with his wife back in the UK, he fooled around with the mass of groupies while in the States.  Here the band is with some groupies:

The band hid their lives from their wives to the point where they would tell their wives they were in Ohio, when really they were in LA or NYC.  The wives knew LA and NYC meant trouble.  Led Zeppelin treated their groupies terribly.  I won’t go into detail, but the “mudshark incident” began the escapades of the band.  They trashed most hotels they stayed in by tearing up the walls or spraying the fire hose all over the room.  Their tour lifestyle strongly contrasted their home lifestyle back in England.

In short, Led Zeppelin led two lives, one of idealism and one of excess, which is evident in the content of their songs.  I guess the artists didn’t really know what they wanted.  Maybe they were just too “Dazed and Confused” to bother to reflect on their lives.

Stairway to Heaven: A Spritiual Calling

(Above: Robert Plant, vocalist of Led Zeppelin, penned the lyrics of “Stairway to Heaven” in one sitting.)

The most sold sheet music in the history of rock and roll. Played so many times on the radio that it adds up to 44 years (according to http://www.superseventies.com/stairway.html). “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin has remained one of the most played and requested songs in radio history (according to http://www.ehow.com/about_4671992_what-story-behind-stairway-heaven.html). Why? How could a song, released over 40 years ago remain so popular?

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven”- the first lyrics Led Zeppelin ever published on the jacket of an album because they knew the impact this song would have on the music industry:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run

There’s still time to change the road you’re on.

And it makes me wonder.”

I believe the answer lies in the theme of the song.  The song, “Stairway to Heaven” goes beyond the surface of music – the surface of life, even.  Stephen Davis, author of Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga, explained that the song, “expressed an ineffable yearning for spiritual transformation deep in the hearts of the generation…” (pg 133).  “Stairway to Heaven” challenges listeners to look at who they are beyond their physical being.  The lyricist, Robert Plant, explained that his inspiration came from Celtic heroines on their journey to spiritual perfection.

As I stream the radio of today’s top hits, I find it rather difficult to hear a song that strikes me personally in such a way that “Stairway” does.  “Call Me Maybe” can hardly be called intellectual – in my opinion.  When “Stairway to Heaven” was released, it quickly reached the top of the charts in the US and the UK.  Why do all the songs on our top radio center on love, sex, drugs, and materialism – surface issues?  How many times have you felt the urge to reflect on life while listening to the current tunes?

Maybe that’s not what teens want to listen to nowadays as they drive their cars around.  There’s no time for introspection.  Similar to our fast-paced lives and fleeting attention spans, new songs are released constantly, and last months are soon forgotten.  Few tunes stand the test of time.

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” remains an anthem to many, I feel, because the song delved into their souls.  Personally, every time I listen to it, I feel elevated and aware.  I realize the materialism I subscribe to and the weaknesses of my character in contrast to the song’s harmony.  But as a whole, I feel reawakened and ready to improve the world.

As much as I enjoy “Stairway to Heaven,” I would love for my generation to have an anthem similar in theme to “Stairway” of its own.  Many songs are released daily with the same calling as “Stairway,” but they have yet to touch the souls of every youth as “Stairway to Heaven” had upon its release. Until then, I will be waiting for it with open arms.