I’ve harped more than a few times in these pages that my access to rock and pop music was delayed a few years. When it finally did come, I obviously had some catching up to do. Furthermore, it likely meant I became aware of historically monumental music differently than many of you. That all being said, I’m confident that anyone of my vintage, too young to have heard classic rock songs upon initial release, first learned of Led Zeppelin thanks to “Stairway to Heaven” at school dances.
Don’t worry, that’s not the song I’ve chosen for you this week. It’s a great song and everyone loves it, it’s just been overplayed, shall we say. It’s sort of become the Nickelback of classic rock songs which is to say it is easy to make fun of and woefully underappreciated by the cynical public but deep down we all secretly like it.
What I wish to talk about today, though, is the true importance “Stairway to Heaven” had on my and your lives. It is because of that song that you inevitably grew more curious about the band which led you to hear “Black Dog” and then “Rock and Roll”. The combination of those three mighty tracks ultimately made you one of the thirty-seven million people on this planet to purchase the album upon which all three reside. You then had a life-altering experience. It was the first time, be it on vinyl, cassette, or CD, that you heard Zeppelin IV from start to finish, all eight tracks.
What you heard was about as close to the perfect hard rock album as anyone as ever gotten. How else to explain the fact that the awesome songs you heard on the radio were often surpassed by the b-side material on this album. “Misty Mountain Hop” is fantastic, “Going to California”, sublime, and then there’s the epic finale, a song that’s an absolute musical orgasm.
That’s the Zeppelin song I’m kicking off your weekend with. The song from that legendary album that left my mind reeling in awe when I first heard it. Spark up a j, folks, and embrace the awesomeness that is “When The Levee Breaks” from the immortal 1971 untitled fourth album by Led Zeppelin.