Hi all. The reason why there are pics of Robert Plant above is twofold. One, I’ve been doing a kind of “Zepathon,” going through myriad YouTube videos of Led Zeppelin and Page/Plant performances and interviews over the years. Two, I’ve been also checking out Plant’s solo career with all of the vast changes in musical genre – and when all is said and done, I’m depressed.
I like that Robert has spoken of all of his phases in life as sort of becoming another person, reinventing and morphing with time. That’s healthy, isn’t it? We all age and mellow, we all move on when our (at the time, immortal) youth fades. On the other hand, to go from untouchable rock GOD, to delegating yourself to singing watered-down country versions of your greatest hits, is so very strange to me. To have held in your hand the power to churn out the most innovative, unique, epiphany-inspiring epic sagas, to Black Dog done in a repetitive, soft whimper – yeah, I’m depressed.
Because that means I’m old, too. The swing in my hips has given way to the pain of bursitis. Skipping up a stairway, two steps at a time, has turned into a long journey, grasping the handrail because my balance is not quite right any more. I have to tend my little organic garden bent over, because if I get on my knees, forget getting back up again without possible permanent injury.
I look at Robert’s face, and I see a life well-lived. I see the lines of experience and wisdom, and – what I most would love to spend time hearing – a hell of a lot of good stories. I know if I looked in the mirror, I would see the same thing. But I would much rather dwell on Robert’s advancing old age than my own. It’s easier to do that. To mourn the loss of his youth, rather than mine. That perfect mouth, those eyes, the lion’s mane that he would toss, shoulders back in an arrogant stance, knowing that he was adored by millions…how hard is it for him now to ignore the loss of that? How much courage does it take to walk on stage and sing, knowing that you don’t even resemble any more the person that got you there, aware that there are expectations in the crowd that you can’t fulfill any more?
I remember going to see Page/Plant when they toured. It was at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. I remember being mesmerized the entire time. Like I had entered another plane of existence. Even though I was only eight or nine when Led Zeppelin I was released, I wore out my brother’s first copy (there were many over the years) and fell in love with Robert. I really did, and looking back, I know it was love. I wasn’t getting any of that at home, and he spoke to my soul. My best friend Roxanne was enamored of Jimmy Page, but I couldn’t really see anybody else in the band. All I saw was Robert, and I made a scrap book of every image and news article I could get my hands on. No idea where it is now, though I wish I did. I would love to peruse it. The time when my idol was at his most perfect. Pictures that never age, where he (and I) stay young and idealistic eternally. I never did get to see Led Zeppelin when they came to San Francisco over the years – I was elsewhere every time. However, when I finally saw Page/Plant in the mid-90’s, it was as if every year had fallen away. I was a child again, and my Gods (by now I had a much fuller appreciation of other musicians) were standing in front of me, and they sounded just like only a few years had passed, rather than decades.
Now, in 2013, it’s different. There’s no pretending that they will live forever, let alone regain their glory one last time, like they did on Celebration Day (whew! Amazing!). I watched the Kennedy Center honors, saw all three surviving members sitting in the balcony, watched the silly musicians on stage in their feeble attempts to bring back the glory of Led Zeppelin’s songs, and cried. It was a nice tribute, and Jack Black said all the right things (“Best Band EVER”). but they looked somewhat frail and vulnerable in my eyes, and that means I’m frail, and it’s going to be all about old memories from here on. I don’t want any more adventures. I don’t want riches or fame or glory. I still want to change the world, but for the better – not to satisfy my own ego. Maybe that’s the equivalent of giving in to country music, that bastion of inanity, even though I know better. That’s what getting old means to me.
I don’t want to look in the mirror. I would rather thank Robert Plant for reflecting what graceful aging looks like, back at me. At least he has the guts to go out there and do it, no matter how different it is from his beginnings. He’s still alive. I think I might need a new hobby. All I need is the motivation.
Ah, nostalgia. I never thought I’d live this long. dammit
Oh, and go vegan, fuckers. It’s on you to do the right thing.
2016 UPDATE – I take it all back. I’m the one that’s achieving decrepitude. His tour with the Sensational Space Shifters just blew me away. Thank goodness that his Allison Krauss period is in the wind. He’s STILL THE ROCK GOD! And I’m happy about that.