January 16th, 2011
A recent issue of Rolling Stone has an interview with Robert Plant. I’ve not read it but have read an article about it. Plant talks about the aborted sessions for a second album with Allison Kraus as well as why he hasn’t been writing any new songs lately. And the there’s the obligatory banter about a Led Zeppelin reunion. To wit:
I’ve gone so far somewhere else that I almost can’t relate to it … It’s a bit of a pain in the [expletive] to be honest. Who cares? I know people care, but think about it from my angle – soon, I’m going to need help crossing the street.
The interview was done in 2010 and it’s now 2011. It is time for fans to stop hoping that Led Zeppelin will reunite. (Ditto for the remaining guys from Pink Floyd and any classic rock band from the 1970s that has been inactive for ages minus the odd set at a benefit gig.) The time for thinking that a concert by a bunch of sexagenarians doing their best imitations of themselves while they were in their 20s ended a long time ago. If Plant, Page and Jones want to get together and record and/or tour, fine by me. But I think that there are fans out there that need to drop this expectation that an LZ reunion this far into the 21st century would be some kind of ultimate rock and roll experience. The band’s days are history. You cannot regain your hazy 1970s youth by Led Zeppelin reuniting nor can people like me who were born too late to see them in concert ever really experience what it was like.
I was one of these people. Well, perhaps not as hardcore as some but, when I was a teenager in the 1980s, I thought it would be the bee’s knees if Zeppelin reunited. This was in the 1980s. There were a couple reunion gigs – Live Aid and Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary – and they weren’t that far removed from days when the band was still around. Fans came close to having their dream realized when Page and Plant paired up in the 90s for a couple albums together but times have moved on.
This isn’t directed at all Zep fans nor everyone who would buy a ticket to see them should they get back together. It’s aimed at people whose blogs I’ve read and to whom I have spoken that feel like they just have to see LZ in concert before they die lest their lives be incomplete and/or take the absence of a reunion as a personal sleight. And some music journalists too. Zeppelin has been done for 30 years. Eric Clapton doesn’t seem to get asked about a Cream reunion on a constant basis and it’s time for the guys from Zeppelin to be given the same courtesy.
Another thing that bugs me about all of this reunion stuff is that it often detracts from any new music a band or musician has on offer. “Oh, you’ve got a new album, I see. How very interesting. So are you getting the band back together?” Instead of pining to hear “Stairway to Heaven” for the eight billionth time, how about focusing on what Plant, etc. are doing now?
Speaking of which, the rumor mill says that Page has recorded some new material and is itching to tour. Plant has his Band of Joy and Jones Them Crooked Vultures. Face it: Zeppelin is history. Perhaps not seeing a future for the band is just something anathema to rock’n'roll, a music of youth. Part of being young is having a long future ahead of you and seeing the possibility of everything but the guys from LZ aren’t young anymore.
In addition to the albums the band released we have tons of bootlegs to enjoy. They’re plentiful and a lot of them are of high quality, including many soundboards. Go out and listen to them and then smoke a joint and watch /The Song Remains the Same for a blast from the past. At some point, however, you’ve got to let go.