Classic Rock and Jack Daniels: The ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Leads to the Kennedy Center Gala
An aging baby boomer continues her obsession with the music of Led Zeppelin, joined now by a national leader and the Kennedy Center too.
September 22, 2012 - 8:00 am
What is it lately with Washington types obsessing over Led Zeppelin?
First it was Congressman/VP candidate Paul Ryan exclaiming that his iPod playlist “ends with Led Zeppelin” during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC). This revelation caused a mini-ruckus and inspired the house-band to play the lamest version of the Led Zeppelin song “Rock and Roll” that I have ever heard.
Then, just last week the Kennedy Center announced the honorees for their upcoming Honors gala. This event (which I must admit I have attended several times, decades ago) affords the opportunity for Washington’s power elite to slobber all over A-list Hollywood types.
The award is the nation’s highest honor for those who have influenced American culture through the arts. It comes with a dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a reception hosted by President Barack Obama.
So this year, honored in a group that includes Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman will be “the surviving members of the rock band Led Zeppelin.”
Washington Post continues:
The three surviving members of the Britain’s Led Zeppelin — John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant — are being honored for transforming the sound of rock and roll. They influenced many other bands with their innovative, blues-infused hits such as “Good Times Bad Times,” ‘’Immigrant Song,” ‘’Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven.” The band, which has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, issued a joint statement saying America was the first place to embrace their music.
Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors? I bet this band really did issue a “joint statement.”
These are the guys who practically invented the concept of sex, drugs and rock and roll – or at least elevated it to legendary new heights, while, along the way trashing hotel rooms and spawning several books on groupie exploits.
Does anyone remember the shark story? Now I am even more amazed to find a Wiki reference to this sordid tale.
Notice how the Washington Post mentions “three surviving members” of the band. Let’s take a moment now to remember drummer John Bonham who infamously died choking on his own vomit after 40 shots of vodka.
Regular readers of this semi-absurd weekly series are now fully aware of my personal devotion (obsession?) with Led Zeppelin. But what is really getting weird is how the “universe” continues to place Led Zeppelin directly in my path. (I know this all sounds totally “New Age” crazy but please hear me out!)
It all started while I was leaving for the RNC in Tampa and had finished writing (but had not yet sent to the editor) what was the third installment of this new series — a piece about the first Led Zeppelin album and its profound effects on the teen-age me in 1969.
Then mid-week after Paul Ryan mentioned Zeppelin during his RNC speech, the crowd went nuts, so I renamed the column and changed the ending.
Now, you could just chock that up to good timing, but stay with me here for this goes much deeper.
Last week, days before the Kennedy Center honorees were announced, I had planned to write this column about my two favorite classic rock songs, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir”. My thought was to take a new approach, focusing on songs rather than a specific classic rock album.
Somehow, the energy of my former “Rock God,” Robert Plant, the singer/co-writer of these two songs — now a “Kennedy Center honoree” — and the universe, together in perfect alignment, have preordained that I present the two greatest classic rock songs of all time — right here, right now! Do you feel the power?
First is the recorded version of “Stairway to Heaven” with a video montage and below that, a live version from 1973 at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
You can enjoy these videos to their fullest extent by chugging Jack Daniels (“Jack”) straight from the bottle because that is the only way to drink the official adult beverage of Led Zeppelin. (I warned you this week’s column would be a little different.)
Next up is Kashmir. The first clip is the recorded version with a video montage and the second, a live performance.
Have I gone out of bounds comparing “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven” with Handel’s “Messiah”? After all, the Hallelujah Chorus is my cell phone ring-tone and my favorite song of all time. It brings tears to my eyes whenever we go to the Kennedy Center at Christmas and hear it performed by a grand chorus. On the same stage that will honor Led Zeppelin! Wow, have we come full circle!
Finally, one night this past week, while trying to find the perfect videos for this piece, it had started to get late for a “school night.” My husband, noticing me watching numerous videos with the young Robert Plant strutting around on stage, says in his most serious husband voice, “Will you please stop watching your boyfriend and come to bed.”
But my “boyfriend,” the Supreme “Rock God” of my youth, still managed to keep me up for a few more hours.
Previous installments from Myra’s Boomer nostalgia fest: