Led Zeppelin is undoubtedly one of my favorite bands.
They had an incredibly profound impact on me. So profound that I can remember it as if it happened five minutes ago.
I started playing guitar when I was 13. One night, my cousin Timmy came over to help me change strings on my guitar. I had never done it. This was five months into my guitar playing journey. My cousin Timmy was 18 at the time, and he is the other half of the reason why I play guitar. Anyway.
TImmy came over and not only did he change my guitar strings, he brought along Led Zeppelin IV. Now I had heard Led Zeppelin before - the Immigrant Song is in School of Rock. But Timmy gave me Led Zeppelin IV and that night, as I did every night at that point in my life, I put the CD in my discman, put my headphones on and crawled into bed.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
"Black Dog" came on, and there was no chance I was going to sleep. I just laid there, wide-eyed in the dark. And it was a school night!
I had never heard anything like this. It was so…powerful. All of it. I don’t think I knew what to do or to make of it. I just knew that I loved it and it moved me. It’s fair enough to say that Led Zeppelin lit my soul on fire the same way the Rolling Stones did (more on them another time).
Now I was a newbie guitar player at this point. Five months into it. I was not a virtuoso by any means. I don’t think I attempted to learn any Led Zeppelin songs until I was 14 (which was all of two months later - July). I probably didn’t think I could play any Led Zeppelin songs. I went on to learn a fair amount and am still working on the whole catalogue. I can probably fake my way through it, but who wants that? I like to get inside the song. (Ask me how many times I’ve played or listened to Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. I couldn’t give you an accurate number - a thousand would be low-balling it. I’m not kidding.)
Oddly enough, I understate the influence Led Zeppelin has had on me as a musician. I’m not sure why. I have more in common with Jimmy Page these days than probably any of my other heroes. And when I say “these days,” I mean probably since I started listening to them.
Maybe I never felt the need to be vocal about it because I felt it came through the playing? Who knows. I certainly don’t. I get into arguments because I say I like the Who better than Led Zeppelin. On a typical day, it’s a coin toss. If I listen to Live At Leeds, I’ll go around screaming that the Who were far superior (Live At Leeds is the best live album ever. Ever. If you think otherwise, I don’t care). If I listen to Led Zeppelin IV, I’d probably argue that Led Zeppelin were far superior. Bottom line, they both rock and both have played major roles in my life.
Back to Zep. Today I felt like learning some Zeppelin songs and I stumbled upon For Your Life. I’d heard it before - and it’s in Celebration Day which I saw so I’d definitely heard it. But today it hit me like a hammer. I’ve never been one to post videos of myself playing guitar, but there’s a strong chance there will be a video of me playing this song up very soon. I want to learn the solo first.
So if you’ll excuse me - I must get back to it.