Sunday, May 22, 2011

Led Zeppelin - In The Light

This music in review was a long time coming. It’s my favourite song, of all time, ever since I was thirteen, and that’s a long time now. Led Zeppelin was my first love but they had at least one song I thought rivalled Stairway, and that song was “In the Light.”

Like a lot of songs that really got me through hard times there are both positive and negative emotions associated with them, and way back in September 2008 I reviewed Rush – “Working Man,” and I was unhappy with what I had done, I went off on some angry tangent and didn’t focus on what was really important, the music. It is probably my only regret thus far in the music in review. So I’m not going to make the mistake again.

Led Zeppelin – “In the Light,” is the first track on the second disc of the two disc album “Physical Graffiti,” an album that shares the honour of my favourite album of all time, tied with Pink Floyd – “The Wall.” Whenever asked the deserted island question those are the only two albums I ever say with confidence.

For the longest time I knew the opening sentence I would use to introduce “In the Light,” it went something like this; “there is something about “In the Light,” that I can’t explain, it means something more to me then words,” but that is bullshit. When someone says things like “it can’t be explained,” usually means the person explaining it is too stupid to explain things, or in my case it means I don’t think you’re smart understand what I’m saying, well I don’t think either is true, so here we go.

Robert Plant stated the three songs he felt were his best performances ever were “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “All My Love,” and “In the Light.” Once Page and Jones had the instrumental written up for “In the Light,” Plant heard the song and within moments had the lyrics done, it just came out of him like these words were something he had been dying to sing his entire career.

“In the Light,” came to me at the perfect time, it was Zeppelin who I worshiped, I was young and just discovering them, and here was this almost lost gem that only die hard Zeppelin fans really seemed to talk about. It was songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” and “In the Light,” that defined what I considered to be brilliant song writing, it is more than a song, it’s a story, and any good story starts slow introducing to you the characters and setting, it lets you get comfortable, and then excitement increases, intelligently and methodically, and you experience a powerful serge of emotion from the tales of these characters, and it moves you in a way you didn’t think possible. “In the Light,” in one listen did this for me, my thirteen year old self was struck and the feelings associated with this song has never changed, only strengthened with time. As I grow older I start to appreciate what Robert Plant is saying in this song more and more, it’s like I always knew but as I live through the lyrics I understand all the more.

This is one of those songs you should give a listen to by yourself, and let yourself absorb every sound, and every word. The message of believing in yourself, but also there is a slight sense of spite, which very much agrees with me, like saying to a lover “hey, did you believe I could leave you?” yet still a romantic and touching song “As you would for me, I will share your load.” So sad yet so promising and optimistic, “When love is pain, it can devour you, but you are never alone, I would share your load.”

It says a lot to me, I stand strong and alone in life, and when I reflect on every past attempts of reaching out to a potentially lover, it’s always the same, for me, “I would share your load, baby let me.” I think you can see why this song only gains meaning for me with the passing of time. It’s the greatest song ever, I think so anyway.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven

It is commonly considered the greatest rock song of all time, a riot broke out once when they didn’t play it live, people have conspired satanic messages and messages from god by manipulating the song and lyrics. It was the song that gave them the respect they deserved all along; it was “Stairway to Heaven.”

It is hard, if not impossible to consider any band greater than Led Zeppelin, even their works that received less praise are some of the best albums in the entire genre of classic rock, they are hands down the greatest rock band of all time.

After joining The Yard Birds, Jimmy Page was soon left without a band as they broke up in 1968. Someone once joked that Page starting a band would crash like a Led Zeppelin, the greatest retort ever, Led Zeppelin. Within two years Zeppelin had three amazing albums, but it wasn’t until 1971 when “Led Zeppelin Four” was released did people finally realized just how great Led Zeppelin really was, this was when “Stairway to Heaven,” hit the airwaves. Stairway broke the expectation of what a hit song could be, it was eight minutes in length considerably longer than any number one hit song on popular radio before then, and unlike most lengthy songs Stairway was not edited for radio play. The producers were almost afraid to touch the song for they knew the celestial greatest their ears beheld.

Stairway to Heaven is in all aspects a perfect song. Stairway is long and elaborate, the instrumental, most notable Jimmy Page’s guitar strikes a variety of combinations over the eight minute adventure, sounds so beautiful and never heard before, and even now, never recreated. Also the message and meaning of the song is deep and mysterious, as stated earlier people have tried to dissect both godly and satanic messages from Stairway, a true poet runs the risk of having his words warped, which is the price to pay if you really want to make an emotional connection with others. The fact that Stairway could touch such a violent variety of spiritual thinkers in such a powerful way truly makes the point of just how effective the song is at touching the human soul. I honestly believe if you want to dissect the song you will find J.R.R. Tolkien overtones. “In my thoughts I have seen, Rings of smoke through the trees,” this is almost an exact quote from Tolkien, describing the hobbits knowing Gandalf is coming because they can see his pipe smoke above the trees. Still I like the fact this song brings out such strong emotions in everyone.

I knew a day would come when I would feel obligated to talk about Stairway, it was a song that could not be ignored, but still what is there to say? It’s the greatest song of all time? It may well be that but most everyone already knows that, and most everyone already knows that Zeppelin is so much more than just this one song. Still it felt necessary to point to the high standard set by Stairway and simply remind myself and the music in review this is what other musicians aspires too, it’s what I aspire to as well, we all aspire to greatness, and if there was one word to describe Stairway I think that’s it, greatness.

I’m reminded of what Merlin said in “Excalibur,” “That's it... and look upon this moment. Savour it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' For it is the doom of men that they forget.” I really like that movie. This music in review is a reminder of something you already knew, dare you forget it, ever.

- Colin Kelly