Led Zeppelin 1 


“He kept this one to himself.  I knew of Zeppelin and everyone knew Stairway to Heaven, but I did not have any of the albums.  I did not really listen to Zeppelin until Dad and I started going out when I was 19 years old and as he said, that was Zep II and III.”  -Trudy Counter

It’s a personal thing. Led Zeppelin is the kind of band you defaced notebooks over when you were a kid because you needed people to know what you listened to instead of rules. The first Led Zeppelin album in my parents’ record collection belongs to my dad, and he had the same experience as you and me: he owned the music. Like: owned it.

In addition to the well worn vinyl that I’m spinning on my turntable right now, he also had an 8-track cassette tape that he would play in his orange 1972 Toyota when he drove from Hamilton to Waterloo, which is where  he would court Trudy (the lady who would eventually birth me). He would only play it on his way there. Once my mom was in the car it would be Zeppelin’s second and third eponymous tapes blasted at too-high-to-speak-over volumes. Zeppelin’s first was for him only.

“[Led Zeppelin 1] took a long time to appreciate. Each track was very different. I still hear something new every time I listen to it.”- Dave Counter
 

 

His favourite song on the record is “Dazed and Confused” which is where we differ majorly. The iconic riff - the one that draws you deeper and deeper into the heavy misogyny of the song’s lyrics before finally exploding in a blinding fury that brings you back to the top only to pull you back down into the murky depth of sexual frustration - is something I can appreciate now. When I first experienced the album at age 15 though, it was side two’s intro, not the sad cliffhanger of the first part, that fully inducted me into the cult of Zeppelin.

“Your Time Is Gonna Come” is the warmest song of reckoning I’ve ever listened to on repeat while driving for two hours in blinding sunlight. Much of what it expresses is a reaction to “Dazed,” but it’s on the other side of the hill: the one that’s moving on away from anger, tension and chauvinism towards peace, self-righteousness, and still more chauvinism (pretty much the name of Jimmy Page’s game). To a sexless teen who feared god more than death, John Paul Jones’ organ intro essentially spelled justice and victory. The end was here and it was time to be judged on what you listened to.

I’m scared to ask Dave what he thinks about the fact that “Dazed and Confused” is one of the most infamous cases of musical plagiarism in the history of rock and roll. Zep has apologized and given credit to many of the artists who claim to have been ripped off on the band’s first release, but not the one that featured a bow-on-guitar solo when Jimmy played it live. Mic Wall speculates in his band bio “When Giants Walked The Earth” that Page just simply couldn’t let it go; the song had become like a child of his that he was unable to admit was adopted.

When I found out I was betrayed, and I worry it would hurt him.

The only DVD I have ever seen worn down beyond use is my father’s copy of “DVD,” the band’s definitive live experience. After my brother and I handed it to him on Fathers Day in 2002, a staple of my home life would be coming home from a karate class at 9:30 PM to a shaking house and heading down into a dark basement filled with the drone of horsehair being dragged across a Les Paul's Earnie Ball Super Slinkies in the 70’s.

 

My dad would be alone, lying on the couch, not even watching the video of a lanky, dark, dragon-pants wearing wizard sculpt time and space by seductively raping a guitar with a violin bow. He wouldn't notice me standing further down the hall. I would silently step past him, still in karate pants, to the fridge and get a can of tangerine Fruitopia. He would just reach his arm blindly into the air above him, trying to grasp that missing piece we all share, deep down in our darkest places where we know the only thing we've ever wanted is to be cool.