Over the hills and far away across the ocean, there was a rock and roll band who asked for no quarter. In the light, or in the evening, they had a firm idea of what is and what should never be. The band is Led Zeppelin and the song remains the same after all these years. Bob Spitz has written “Led Zeppelin: The Biography” and some of the ground covered in the book has been trampled under foot before. But, fear not, friends. The author is on the details like a black dog on a soup bone, providing much-needed context, and freshening up the narrative. Diehard superfans will regard the chapters as houses of the holy and will ascend a stairway to heaven in each, hoping to glean even the smallest new tidbit about their golden gods of rock. Those less fanatical, who might be curious, or perhaps dazed and confused about certain aspects of Zeppelin history, will appreciate a book that is packed with good times, bad times, and lots of insider stuff. We should not regard this Zeppelin biography as a sweet piece of custard pie, however. It has many greasy tales of debauchery, drug use, and the questionable practice of nicking the work of other artists. There is plenty here to flesh out the band members as flawed human beings, rather than gods from on high. When viewed through today’s lens, they engaged in many instances of bad behavior 50 years ago that would not fly today. This knowledge could be a heartbreaker for a dedicated Zephead. That’s the way it goes, though. As the Rain Song says, “upon us all a little rain must fall.” The hope is not to become a fool in the rain. Sometimes all you can do is ramble on, no matter how many more times disappointment knocks, and trust that your time is gonna come. Keith Moon of The Who responded to Jimmy Page’s efforts to form a supergroup from the wreckage of the Yardbirds by saying, “It’d go down like a lead zeppelin.” (Pronounced “led”, not “leed”.) Think of how history would be different if Moon had said “lead balloon” or “lead blimp”. Chances are there would not be a whole lotta love for those names. However, let there be no communication breakdown over the name of the band. Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham would have been great together, no matter what they were called. Still, we can all be glad it wasn’t “Led Blimp”. Yeah. That would have been awful. So, thank you, Keith, wherever you are.
Jun 17, 2022