Space Interpreting
respect the architect

Nobody's fault but mine

I've been gently accused of being a rockist after yesterday's post. Let me make myself clear: Led Zeppelin are genius and Led Zeppelin f**kin RAWK!! They rock more than Robert Johnson. I own more albums by Whodini (1) then I do Mission of Burma. My feeling on Sonic Youth: it doesn't swell and I don't ride it. "The Crunge" VS. the complete recordings of Bob Dylan? Please. Its Zeppelin, and its no Sophie's choice.

I certainly don't mean to soapbox about freshness and forgery. We all know rock came from blues. And while personally I find Zeppelin's influence on our culture to be generally grotesque, at least the few remaining hair metal clubs are tucked away like strip clubs under freeway off-ramps, pasty circus sideshows that cater as much to ironic hipsters as they do the faithful. But the blues has something far worse to answer for: mainstream white blues-rock. The worst music on earth. When I think of blues-rock I think:

$60 tickets to BB Kings, tucked-in flannel, microbrews, eddie bauer chain wallets, alphabetized blues LPs, cholesterol medicine, vanity plates on minivans, pricey signature edition Legends of Blues guitar replicas, mother-of-pearl jacknives, polished boots, cream straw fedoras in hatboxes, family dental plans, groomed beards, framed memorabilia, dry-cleaned Levis, neon bar signs in carpeted rec rooms.

I think of the sound of thoroughly deconditioned blues, no moans and only the tidiest wails. Middle-aged suburban guys going through the motions, playing unremarkable blues standards with fastidious polish. There are millions of these guys. Possibly billions. Maybe it's because blues is such an easy form to play decently. But I think it's probably more to do the incredible cultural power of affiliation. The sense that one can share in something authentic through formalist participation. It drives all advertising. It's what prompts a weekend bike geek to put on one of those silky logo shirts. It's why newlyweds pose for wedding pictures in front of rented antique cars. It's why your dad has an iPod. But the higher the commitment to protocol, the further from the blues blues-rock gets. No one ever suffered post traumatic stress from a Civil War re-enactment. This music is no more a tribute to the blues than running on a treadmill is a tribute to running from a lion. Although, I reckon there is a species of despair particular to memorabilia collectors. It's a twitchy despair.

Anyway, obviously I'm no rockist, I'm elitist.

On with the songs. Tomorrow I'll post a bunch of blues originals, many of which, as well as some other songs I've posted, can be found on a number of Zeppelin-themed compilations that have been released over the years.

Here are 5 of them.

For today, mostly songs from 60s folk and psych-rock groups that Jimmy Page rolled with, and that he kissed before he told.

Dazed And Confused

Quite disturbing. Even the instruments sound the same. This could easily be a Led Zep studio outtake, but its actually folk singer Jake Holmes. Holmes opened for Page's Yardbirds during a tour in 1967, and Page re-tooled the song into "I'm Confused" before switching the name back for the Zeppelin release. I don't think Holmes has album credit or ever received royalties. Holmes is a very interesting guy.

How many musicians can claim to have been in a comedy team with Joan Rivers, written a concept album for Frank Sinatra, had one of their songs stolen by Led Zeppelin and hung out with Nelson Mandela? Only one: Jake Holmes.

Read about him here. Besides this song, Holmes' lasting legacy might be his soda jingle: "Be A Pepper".


I posted this song last year on the site. here's what I had to say:

Led Zeppelin used to open for Spirit in the early days ('68, basically), and Jimmy Page has admitted in years since that he did indeed bite the "Stairway to Heaven" riff from (Randy) California. I have no idea why Spirit hasn't bit back, and licensed "Taurus" like madmen, pawning it off as "Stairway to Heaven" for untold millions.

The chord progression in "Stairway To Heaven" is also v. similar to a song by the Chocolate Watch Band, "And She's Lonely." Jimmy Page's Yardbirds played with the Chocolate Watch Band...