Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ramble On

Did you hear it? Did you hear me n' my pup howlin' last night? The skies cleared (finally!) and the big ol' searchlight of La Luna came beamin' through. So, Nino and I were out there giving it its due.

It was with great sadness that I heard that Mitch Mitchell died yesterday. Mitchell was the drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. While there's no question that Jimi is the iconic great rock guitarist, if you listen to the tunes (google Purple Haze and jam for a bit!) beyond the amazing guitar licks, you'll quickly realize that Jimi and Mitch were matched in talent. Mitch's drumming did more than offset Jimi's guitar and vocals, it was the heartbeat of all that great soulful stuff. Well, dudes... you're back on the same stage again after all these years. Rock on.

I also read something somewhere (this was actually a few days ago) that when Led Zeppelin first hit the scene critics pooh-poohed their success as a fluke. They said Jimmy Page's guitar tracks were overblown and Robert Plant's soaring vocals were never going to last as something anyone wanted to listen to. Led Zep didn't care. They played because it felt good, because they wanted to. They liked their sound and that's all that mattered. Well, guess who's still getting airplay 40 years later?! They're hailed as hard rockers, but if you pay attention much of their music is actually acoustical (I Got a Woman, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, etc.) - edgy acoustical sure, but acoustical nonetheless. Whether you like the strains of Led Zep's music or not (and I can totally understand why some wouldn't like it), you have to agree that there is something powerful in their tunes. Who can listen to Whole Lotta Love without grinning at a great remembered sexual experience, or maybe wishing for a new one? Who can hear Ramble On without hollering an internal "Yeah!" at whatever it is that drives a soul? Who can possibly sit through Plant's screamin' Valkyrie cries in Immigrant Song without wanting to grab the nearest Norseman (or Norsewoman) and have a throwdown in the snow?!

Anyway. Pardon while the rocker chick in me settles her feathers. (Gypsy exits stage left to refresh cup o' bean, singing in shabby Plant-esque falsetto: "Seems that the wrath of the Gods got a punch on the nose and it started to flow; I think I might be sinking. Throw me a line if I reach it in time I'll meet you up there where the path runs straight and high.")

Heh. As I listened to the radio on my drive home and the glorious tribute to Mitch Mitchel (thank you John Fisher at 103.7 The Mountain, KMTT) and the classic strains of Purple Haze, I had to chuckle. There are some songs I just can't hear without recalling misunderstood lyrics that my young ears heard way back when. Purple Haze happens to be one of 'em... I can't help but sing along, but instead of "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky..." I belt out, as I did in my youth, "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy..."

Ironically, Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love was another one I slaughtered back then. Of course, my 8 year old mind had no grasp of the true concept of the song, or I might have figured out my error sooner. I thought they were singing, "You need Kool-aid, baby I'm not foolin'...." Hell, sounded good to me. Cherry please. *wicked giggle*

One of my favorites came from my baby brother, John. Back when Frankie Valli came out with My Eyes Adored You, we were all in the car one day, radio playing, when John belted out along with Frankie, "Myyyyyyyyyy Uncle Georgie.... oh I never laid a hand on you...." I still haul that memory out whenever I need an uplift.

I'm never able to participate in Christmas carols without getting in trouble. To this day, my internal ear still hears, "round young virgin" in Silent Night. Granted, as a kid my entire perception of a virgin was that it was a woman wearing a light blue hoodie and looking beatifically toward the heavens. Of course she was round... she was pregnant. It all made sense (and still does) to me. Never mind that I never understood how my Dad (Harold) got written into Hark the Harold Angels Sing - especially being as completely tone-deaf as he was.

It's all good. I heard an interview with Seal once, who said that he purposely does not publish lyrics with his CD's because he likes people to interpret whatever they think they hear. Right on... I'm known for making up lyrics as I go if I can't understand someone's diction (or lack thereof).

Hurry, get the scurvy with the fringe on top...

Led Zeppelin, Ramble On

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