I’ve listened to U2’s new album maybe three times now, and I think I’ve realized something: I’ve quit expecting anything from U2. And now that I’ve quit expecting anything from them, I like their albums a lot more. Songs of Innocence (I love you guys for that title) is fun to listen to, generally upbeat, doesn’t really rock on more than one song, but is more coherent musically than How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and more interesting on a first listen than No Line On The Horizon. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve liked a U2 album on first listen (maybe Achtung Baby? — since then it usually takes me about three to five years to like their albums), but I did like this one first time around. Try it yourself: quit expecting anything. Just listen.
I want them to toss the arena rock sound and record something punk again.
Using every ounce of my self-control to keep from posting Soul Train videos every day for the next year. Instead, live performance by the Stones: “Miss You.” The official video sucks, and they used a background with huge blue butterflies for this song in concert, so I’m giving you the live version instead:
I’m going to keep my promise and not post another Springsteen song today, but man, I don’t want to keep that promise. “She’s the One” from Born to Run is playing on my iPod this very minute (okay…it’s over…now). I’m posting a Led Zeppelin song today because I had a conversation recently with a pretty, young salesgirl who told me all about how much she loved Led Zeppelin. She’s 17 and she loves Led Zeppelin. Okay, that’s cool. It’s been 45 years to the year since the release of Zeppelin’s first album and this girl wants to get Zep symbols tattooed all over her arms (if you happen to ever read this — O Please Don’t Do That To Your Skin. I would say the same thing to all my daughters. Not that they listen: they’re my daughters). If you’re tempted to think she’s just unusual, click on the YouTube video below and read the comments: “Oh my god. Is it weird that I’m 23 and totally in love with Jimmy Page? :).” No, it’s not, and this fan’s screen name is “Beatlemaniac”… ha.
And Zep’s popularity among younger fans has been going on for decades now. I remember sitting in the sound booth at a church I was attending in the 90s and noticing that the teenage boys on stage all dressed like Kurt Cobain and warmed up with Zeppelin. By that time Zep’s first album was over 20 years old, and it’d been more than ten years since their last album. It occurred to me at the time that there’s no Nirvana without Led Zeppelin — the musical continuity between the two is almost perfect. Bands like Whitesnake and Great White imitated Zeppelin in the early 80s. Nirvana reinvented Zeppelin’s sound and made it their own, which is why Nirvana is still worth listening to. So long as the guitar is the main instrument of rock and roll, something the 80s couldn’t even kill, I think Zeppelin will keep finding fans.
What brought me back to Zep recently was the BBC Sessions album. It was a Zep I’d never really heard before: these live performances from 1969-70 aren’t arena rock and they aren’t heavy metal — which is the type of music you find on The Song Remains the Same, How the West Was Won, or Celebration Day. This is Zeppelin live in a small venue, so it can’t be arena rock. It’s more like early punk. And it rocks. The video is footage of a 1969 concert in Denmark. The first song is “Communication Breakdown” — that’s all you need to hear to know what I’m talking about, but if you stick with it until “Dazed and Confused” really kicks in you’ll get what I’m talking about. You’ll get an image of the cover of Zep’s first album at first but then concert footage will start streaming. Just stick with it a few seconds.
Now I want Zeppelin to get back together and record some stripped down, punked out rock and roll.
Song list for this 31 minute set:
“Communication Breakdown” “Dazed and Confused” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” “How Many More Times”