I was a bit late to the LED ZEPPELIN party, not really becoming a big fan until well after I had already gotten into music. Not that I hadn’t heard them, of course, but for a variety of reasons the LIGHT BULB never clicked on until I heard my dearly departed high school friend Darryl play OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY on his guitar while we sat around in the BROCKWAY’S (also HS friends) front yard one hot blistering day.
A little back story:
1 – I’m fairly sure my first encounter with ZEPPELIN was at PLAYLAND SKATING RINK. I fondly recall couple skating to “ALL MY LOVE” and I’m sure other ZEP was on the playlist but I don’t remember. I remember MY SHARONA, and everyone suddenly skating twice as fast, as someone over the PA threatened to stop the tune if we didn’t slow down. But, yes, ALL MY LOVE, I still say “Couple Skate” in my mind every time I hear those opening organ/synth notes.
My dad also had LED ZEPPELIN II in his record collection, but I never listened to it and I don’t remember him ever playing it. He was into country music by this time. Although he did boggle my young mind with Pink Floyd’s MEDDLE. But that is a tale for another day.
2 – Other than during couple skate though, ZEPPELIN kind of scared me. The kids wearing ZEP shirts were the FREAKS in the smoking area. The Chad Torbush’s of the world. I was afraid to enter into the sphere of those kids. They were like that RUSH t-shirt with the guy cowering from the upside down star. They were the Star – and I was the guy.
3 – Punk Rock. I went from listening to Beach Boys records and my dads box of old 45’s (Little Richard, “Green Door”, etc) and then into top 40; “Funky Town” and Rapper’s Delight” and “Nobody Does It Better.” Next was KISS and then QUEEN. Once I got into high school I was listening to 96 ROCK and the CRUE and STYX and AC/DC. Not sure how I avoided ZEPPELIN during this phase. Again, I know I heard them, I’m guessing it was because the “classic” rock I was listening to wasn’t classic yet. It was still new. STYX, RUSH, YES, QUEEN, these were records that were NEW at the time. Then MTV, BILLY IDOL, ART OF NOISE, and “Rock The Casbah”. I didn’t actively DISLIKE Zeppelin but they weren’t on my radar. I didn’t actively dislike them until…. PUNK ROCK. 11th grade? This was when I really got into PUNK™. And then shit like ASIA was treasonous. I threw my THRILLER cassette out the window of my friends car. Sure I liked BLACK FLAG and dyed my hair black and rejected PRINCE but I was a poseur. Playing the part of Punk™ Rocker. At the time, though, I had no idea.
And part of the poseur punk dogma I guess was to reject LED ZEPPELIN.
Eventually I saw the minutemen and they schooled me on what Punk Rock really is. And I bought PRINCE “Sign of the Times” and one fateful day, I was sitting on CLEARVIEW DRIVE in the BROCKWAY’S front yard:
Not certain who was there. I’d say, myself, Darryl, Doug and Tony. Brian may have been in Colorado. Not sure the timeline. But it was hot, we were sitting around doing this or that. Nothing, really. Darryl was playing his guitar. Or it could have been Tony’s guitar. And he played OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY. And a big light bulb clicked on over my head. I’m certain, if you’d been standing in the Lawrence’s yard or on the street, you literally would have seen a giant light bulb over my head. The light would have been blinding, too. It might not have even been a light bulb but a giant light-up sign like KISS has behind their stage, and it flashed: GREATEST SONG EVER™
I was never really close friends with Darryl, but we were both part of a close group of friends, a beautiful hive of assorted people. If you were/are part of this circle, I know you miss Darryl, and I do too. I’m happy to have this wonderful memory and every time I hear this song I think of him.
Listen to the entire (and ever evolving) GREATEST SONG EVER* playlist:
A quick note about these tunes. I’m making this list as the tunes come to me… I’m not sitting here, pen in hand, going … “uh, ‘This Ain’t No Picnic’ number 61… and ‘We Will Rock You’ number 57… ‘Big Takeover’ number 85… blah blah blah… when I hear or am reminded of THE GREATEST SONG EVER™, that’s when I know.
*because I say so.
GREATEST SONG EVER™ is a continuing series in which I proclaim and create a list of what I consider the GREATEST SONG EVER. Feel free to disagree and start your own list. This entry originally appeared on our PARTY WITH ME PUNKER FB page, Aug 17, 2011. – P