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Influential classic rock

posted Mar 11, 2018, 7:49 PM by Steve Sauer   [ updated Mar 11, 2018, 7:52 PM ]
Sorry, I just want to say something about "Free Bird." Put away your lighters and deal with it.

This guy on TV just said how the song is a surprise because when you first hear it, you think it's another ballad and isn't this nice. But then it just starts rocking your socks off. Surprise!

The guy is right. I remember having that reaction the first time I ever heard the song. I remember it clearly. I know exactly where I was WHEN I first heard the song.

For the record, I was driving when the song came on the radio. I arrived at my destination and didn't want to turn off the radio. Where was this song going next? This was amazing! I could have turned off the radio and gotten out of the car and gone on with my day, but -- but -- this song was amazing and I had to hear the rest of it. And holy crap, I wondered, exactly how much more of this song IS there? How long can they keep this up!?

My destination was a Negative Space rehearsal. Drummer extraordinaire Sean Sultzbach and virtuoso guitarist BJ Huss were up a flight of stairs. They were already rocking their brains out by the time I got up there. What I don't remember for sure is how badly I embarrassed myself that day by asking them if they had ever heard of this song "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Hint for my mother-in-law: The song is ubiquitous; you would make me really happy if you look it up sometime.)

In a similar way, I remember vividly my first time hearing "Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin. Disclaimer: It probably wasn't the absolute first time I was ever exposed to "Fool in the Rain," but it was definitely the first time I ever paid close attention to and was mesmerized by "Fool in the Rain."

This also takes place in my car, driving while the song is on, arriving at my destination while the song is still going on. I'd arrived early at high school, so I thought I'd be good on time if I listened to the whole song.

After a couple of verses of the laid-back shuffle, there's a whole new uptempo Latin rhythm and you have to wonder how John Bonham is doing what he is doing. John Paul Jones is cleverly delivering these simple piano chords on all white notes. Robert Plant's voice wails and interweaves through the mix.

Jimmy Page plays such a great guitar solo, every note duplicated two octaves below, and lo and behold, every note he plays is from that same C Major scale as the piano. Bonzo's drum sound through it all is impeccable. This guitar solo might never end. I hope it doesn't -- oh wait, I do have to make it inside the school eventually... maybe it'll end soon... Jimmy Page's playing is a flurry of notes and then a moment later he becomes choosy about what notes are coming next. He's holding back. I'm hanging on his every note. He finally throws it back over to the singer, and the song never ceases to carry my interest.

Some may mock me for saying so, but I think it's Jimmy's finest recorded guitar solo from the Led Zeppelin catalog.