Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 228
Wed. Oct. 02, 2013
“Black Dog (Live at Madison Square Garden 1973)”
“The brown cardboard sign in the window read simply: “It’s here.”” And with that phrase Cameron Crowe had began his classic liner notes essay in the 2007 remastered version of Led Zeppelin’s historic live soundtrack album: The Song Remains The Same. It had been years since I’d seen the film and re-experiencing this glorious concert movie again, one thing that struck me was that I should be high while watching these “dream sequences.” And then, the live show started from New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden and that’s when the music started to explode from this concert stage.
If you only experience is listening to Led Zeppelin on LP, then you’re only getting half the show. Jimmy, Robert, John and John Paul may have made their mark on vinyl but the band come alive and become immortalized rhythmically on stage. “Every show we did was different,” Jimmy Page said in the liner notes of The Song Remains The Same. “You never knew when you went onstage what you might do by the end of it.” He laughs at the still-fresh memories of the band’s concerts. “Once a song was recorded, and it went into the set, it began to mutate. The whole improvisational aspect…it was a magical vehicle collectively soaring into the stratosphere. We played differently in England, in Europe, and definitely in Japan…we always went for it. But in America we were totally uninhibited. Touring America was the crème de la crème at the time. It was like a full on party.” And you could feel it in the live performances on the Blu-Ray and the soundtrack. You could tell by the way Page, Plant, Bonham, and Paul Jones were feeding their magical performances from the fervent NYC audience.
“Rock and Roll” was the first song from the film that I watched on Blu-Ray. First off the new remastered transfer is exquisite, the film looks amazing and the sound is even more memorable. What you’ll notice from this rendition of “Rock & Roll” from The Song Remains The Same is that it’s not as up tempo as the Led Zeppelin IV album version. It’s more noticeable in the movie; I especially love the one-two-three sonic attack of the first trifecta of songs Zeppelin plays on The Songs Remains The Same. After “Rock & Roll,” Page and co, go directly into “Celebration Day” and cap off this threesome with one of the best versions of “Black Dog” ever. I love the call and response moments that Robert Plant shares with the audience as the crowd croons along to Zeppelin’s front man singing the immortal monosyllabic orgasmic refrain of “Ah ah, ah ah, ah!.”
I understood truly what Crowe meant when he wrote, “To be a Led Zeppelin fan – now that was an exclusive club.” I was in the midst of a mega Zeppelin renaissance. I never expected to be listening to Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones in my forties but ever since I got the phone call telling me that I was accepted to graduate school, I was actually compiling and listening to my ever expanding Led Zeppelin playlist. I don’t think it was luck or coincidence that Zeppelin was on my stereo while I received the great news. I’m thankful that Zeppelin will always be the soundtrack to one of the happiest moments of 2013.
“The imagery, the font, the majesty, and the mystery of Led Zeppelin remain tattooed across the hearts of fans everywhere. To anyone who shared that room, or the members who stood onstage as Led Zeppelin, this recording is more than a historical document. This is now. New York. The groove. The heart. The soul. The journey. The music. It’s here.” This was the way Cameron Crowe ended his lyrical liner notes from The Song Remain The Same. Nobody else could pen should a moving and rhythmic tribute like the former Rolling Stone writer who interviewed Led Zeppelin throughout the seventies. Crowe captures the moment, the music and the band that I will forever be indebted to for their inspiration, their genius and the soundtrack filled of personal memories that I will never forget.
While I relished seeing this remastered version of the film on DVD, watching Led Zeppelin in concert on The Songs Remain The Same is equivalent to seeing your favorite Shakespeare play performed on stage or the screen. Although it’s quite an experience to see these works of art come to life, I actually prefer to listen to the soundtrack album. I’ve always said the best Hamlet and Page, Plant, Bonham & Paul Jones remain illuminating their reflective genius inside your very own imagination and headphones.
So if you prefer the film, go ahead and switch on the Blu-Ray of the movie and enjoy the show. I will put on my own headphones and picture the band as I always imagined: An agelessly timeless—Godlike embodiment of everything we want our rock ‘n roll idols to be: dedicated geniuses who come alive on stage— wild, incendiary and free. Crank up the rhythms and let Page, Plant, Bonham and Paul Jones take you away on their electric journey that is “Black Dog” from The Song Remains The Same, over and over again. “Oh Yeah!” Are you ready to plug into the dynamic three song live explosive medley that is “Rock and Roll/Celebration Day/Black Dog?” Get your air guitars amped…here we go again.
Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 228