Going Down Like A Led Zeppelin
Album #21 : Led Zeppelin — Led Zeppelin IV
Expectations can be dangerous things. For example, last week I was ready and raring for moving down a level in Covid restrictions here in Scotland. Then on Friday afternoon, it was announced that Glasgow had stumbled and wouldn’t be taking the next step towards freedom. Honestly, it was pretty gutting. It felt a bit like a miniature Christmas announcement — having things whipped away at the last minute. That is, obviously, a selfish reaction and I realise that. The decision was made for a reason and just because I haven’t (to my knowledge) caught the virus doesn’t mean I’m immune from it or the restrictions that are necessary to keep it in check. My want to play 5-a-side does not outweigh the need to keep people safe. But I’m still allowed to be frustrated, I think.
All this made me think about I handle bad news. The answer I have come to is: not very well. My initial reaction is almost always denial. For example, my assertion in February 2020 that Covid would “go away as soon as the news finds something else to talk about.” Not my finest hour. After that, it is usually anger. But anger and frustration that goes unexpressed a lot of the time until there is enough of it to become overwhelming. Remedying that is definitely an ongoing process — I am trying to learn not to just shake things off as ‘just sort of… fine’ only for them to come back later in a more venomous, bilious fashion. Beyond that, I usually briefly skip over bargaining, a quick bit of depression then onto acceptance. With the aforementioned news, all those stages were over by the time I went to sleep on Friday night.
To come back to expectations, I am not entirely sure what I expected from this album. Maybe that it would be a rip-roaring rock ’n’ roll rollercoaster. Instead, a lot of it is so much more subtle and chilled than I had anticipated. That was a welcome surprise, if my review of Metallica has taught us anything it’s that the heavier stuff isn’t really for me.
Sometimes, however, expectations and reality match up. The perfect example on this album is Stairway to Heaven. I, honestly, don’t think I have ever heard that song all the way through. I have heard the opening guitar riff played by sweaty teenagers on out of tune acoustic guitars at house parties though. I have heard that a lot. This song was such a thing at high school and college that I basically just shut myself off from it — it couldn’t possibly be as good as everyone says it is. And, to be honest, I don’t think it is. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s just sort of… fine.
I know what you’re thinking; he’s wrong, he’s an idiot. I don’t believe it. Perhaps that statement has made you angry? Understandable. Now you’re thinking “oh well it’s definitely better than X!” Maybe now you’re starting to think… “Oh no, I based my whole teenage personality on that song. How sad.” But now, finally, you are with me and you agree that it is broadly fine.
Well done, we’re making progress together.
Thanks for reading — over the course of 2021, I’ll be reviewing 50(ish) of the greatest albums ever recorded. You can see the list here:
The 50(ish) Greatest Albums of All Time…
Weekly reviews of ‘the classics’ I’ve never bothered to listen to.
There is also a playlist featuring the best song from each album here.