Led Zeppelin: Great Band, or the Greatest Band?
Some interesting developments have been occurring 'round here. I mean, there's the obvious - the ongoing "development" of Dean Green, who is now noticeably swishing around in there and occasionally punching me in the waist. Yesterday I was in the car and he jabbed me rather insistently, so I jabbed him back to see what would happen - he kinda got the hint and quit sloshing for a minute or two, then went back to shoving. That kid's a nudge already.*
Work at the Hazel House is ongoing. I don't think I've written about that before here, but to summarize - both the Teej and I owned real estate when we met, something I refer to as the "Philadelphia Problem."** When we got married, I moved into his place, which is charming but smaller than mine, and we started working on some ongoing issues with mine (henceforth to be called Hazel House, or alternately the Country House). Ongoing issues means that it was a semi-beat-up 1910 house that I was chipping away at with the help of Al and Christine, Lauren and Eytan, and other past housemates. Some significant work got done two years ago, when I redid the upstairs bathroom and some ceilings up there as well - put in a skylight, etc. But the fact still remained that the kitchen was a disaster and the back of the house was sort of falling into the ground. Now we're addressing those issues with a real contractor (unfortunately at real contractor prices) and I've been involved in trying to push things along so that we can move in there before Dean Green moves in with us! The details of all that will be a post for another day.
On the home front here at Kater House/ City House, a few noteworthy items from the past couple of weeks are blogworthy, but I will tell you about one of them here and save the rest for another post:
TJ is becoming a foam-sword-basher-wannabe after all. Remember when I admitted that I secretly should have been a foam-sword-basher but I couldn't muster the conviction? Part of all that arose in high school when I overheard my dad listening to some Steeleye Span on the reel-to-reel. I couldn't tell you why, but it grabbed me - the first song I started getting stuck in my head was "Two Magicians" from Now We are Six (Shanachie, 1974). I made him make me some cassette tapes of that album and he threw in Hark! The Village Wait(1970), Please to See the King(1971), Below the Salt (1972), Parcel of Rogues(1973), and All Around my Hat(1975). *** Thus began my nagging, accidental obsession with all things Traditional Ballady.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, we really got lucky (not me personally, I wasn't around just yet) in that Folk Rock became a semi-acceptable popular genre. I'm not talking about the Byrds and Bob Dylan, I'm talking about British/Celtic traditional ballads in their raw form being arranged for electric guitar solo, best exemplified by Steeleye and the Pentangle. Can you believe it? Believe it. Sometimes I listen to this stuff and really feel like I came out in the wrong decade, but what's done is done. Anyway, some of this purer stuff influenced bands like Jethro Tull (Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses, 1977-78), Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin to name a few.
So, like, obviously TJ would already be a Zeppelin fan because he is a Guitar Guy. In fact, on our "minimoon" in Big Sur, we tried to buy some music for the car trip back down the coast via San Simeon - unfortunately, the pickings at the Ventana Inn and Spa were slim, so we wound up with a classical guitar Zeppelin tribute album. It turned out to be AWESOME, and somehow we continue to listen to it all the time because it reminds us of our nice time last summer. Well, ironically, when you take Jimmy Page playing "Black Mountain Side" (from their debut album, 1969) and have a guy with a classical guitar do an instrumental rendition of it, what you get is precisely the arrangement by Bert Jansch called "Blackwaterslide" (1966). I pointed this out to the Teej, and he was thus introduced to Bert Jansch as a result of my father having supplied me with lots of such cassettes in my youth.
So now, TJ liking and appreciating Zeppelin is a no-brainer, and TJ liking Bert Jansch is cool but also kind of obvious since they both involve seriously righteous Guitar Guys. But I always got the feeling that TJ wasn't that interested in singers or lyrics or singing in general, and was mostly grabbed by Hella Tight Guitar-Playing.
So you'll imagine my surprise when one day he comes home and announces that he downloaded a bunch of Steeleye at school and he's been listening to it. Only weeks earlier, I had gotten a bunch of it in mp3 form (as opposed to my old cassettes) and had been revisiting the albums in a way that I honestly assumed had annoyed the hell out of him, but he had tolerated nicely - you see, I sang really loudly through about 5 straight albums one night, and he had to retreat downstairs. I just didn't think he would go for it - this stuff is very lyric-heavy and involves a lot of cheesy storylines about maidens and lost maidenheads and sailors and bandits and class differences and blacksmiths and miners and stuff. But the next thing I know, he's singing about all of those things in a ye-olde accent, and seeming to get a kick out of it.
I guess that's the end of the tale, but I can't even tell you that it makes me really happy in some nebulous kind of way. Like, he likes something I like and I didn't even force him! It makes me want to sing a jaunty ballad about it. I love TJ for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that he just sort of gets a lot of things that are either cool or important or both. The recent secret-foam-sword-lover revelation is really just icing, but it's fun and I appreciate it.
(I'm gonna quit and publish here so I don't miss my haircut, but probably when I come back I'll have to go back and edit this whole rambling thing until it makes any form of sense...)
*(In case it is not obvious, I am chuckling to myself right now and I did not abuse my fetus by shoving him hard, this is all kind of a joke and all that.)
** Not to be confused with the L.A. problem (two cars, one parking spot) or the New York problem (two rent-controlled apartments) or the hideously dubbed "two-body problem."
*** My Dad was always making me tapes of stuff I expressed interest in. Now that I think about it, almost everything we sang in chorus in college, he put on a tape for me and sent me - he owned recordings of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, the Poulenc Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, and about twenty other things we had performed. When I still kept my tapes in meticulous order, I'd transcribe all the tracks onto the liners in a certain way with a certain color pen and all was right with the world.