Sunday, July 7, 2013

Heresy: Floyd over Zep?

Yesterday my wife was hanging out with me listening to records and she said I should put on some Zeppelin. The only vinyl copy I have is Led Zeppelin II (would have had the debut if I had gotten to the record store ten minutes earlier but that's another story...well, I guess the story is pretty much told). We put it on and she asked me who I liked better: Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. I response, without hesitation, Pink Floyd.

This shocked my wife, so much so she immediately went on Facebook and announced it. "Steve says he likes Pink Floyd better than Led Zeppelin. He's proud of it and not ashamed. What the hell?!???Happily a number of people have risen to my defense.

Like many teenagers in the 80s/90s I was obsessed with Pink Floyd. I had the posters, I had the cassettes and then the CDs. I had the VHS vide tapes. I had a Floyd visual history book which breaks my heart that I can't find now. I was even tempted to buy a guitar (even though I couldn't play at the time) because it had the Gerald Scarfe artwork from The Wall on the body. On some subliminal level I appreciate the artsy-ness of Floyd. Mainly it was because I loved David Gilmour's guitar playing: "Time," "Money," "Wish You Were Here," "Have A Cigar," "Comfortably Numb," "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)," "Run Like Hell," "Hey You" were all in constant rotation on Q102 back in Dallas when I was growing up. And Gilmour has such a unique style of playing it just stuck.

Probably what sealed it for me was when Floyd released Momentary Lapse of Reason. It's pretty much a David Gilmour solo record, but as a Floyd record it's still really really good. It came out in 1987 when I was watching MTV constantly. MTV had a Pink Floyd weekend (imagine that today!) and they spent 3 days previewing the record, showing old clips, showing the movie The Wall, showing interviews with David Gilmour and Nick Mason promoting the album. Here was an old band that had classic music I heard all the time on the radio making a new record; something that was accessible to me as a 14 year old beginning to shape my own musical interests beyond that of my parents; something I could call mine that I couldn't necessarily say about Dark Side Of The Moon or Animals. And it had some great songs: "Learning To Fly," "Dogs Of War," "Sorrow". Even "One Slip" is a great little number.

From there it was buy every record, even stuff like Relics. I admit I didn't really get The Final Cut (though I now think it's amazing in it's way). I got all the posters to hang on the wall. I bought Delicate Sound Of Thunder on CD and VHS when it came out and played it into the ground. I played the Live at Pompeii video tape constantly.

It took a while for me to warm up to led Zeppelin. There is a sinister-ness to them that I didn't quite get. And they sang, unless it was about hobbits or misty mountains, about squeezing lemons till the juice ran down their legs. I wasn't against that, but for music I was far more interested in literateness (AC/DC being the outlier to that). Floyd and Rush, later Iron Maiden and Metallica and Q├╝eensryche. These bands were bringing great music AND great lyrics and ideas. They made me think.

The first Zeppelin tape I ever bought was The Song Remains The Same. It's amazing I went on to like Zepplein after that, because that is probably the worst live record ever made. I think I got it because it was a double cassette and had a lot of songs I knew on it. That was the only Zep tape I ever had. The first CD boxed set I ever bought was the 4-disc Led Zeppelin box. Again there was a bit of a hullabaloo about the release of that. It might have been one of the first big box sets released..it might have been Zeppelin's debut on CD. But I remember going to Sound Warehouse on Josey Lane in Carrolton at 10am on Tuesday to buy it when it came out.

Music is all about connection. Be it MTV hyping a new Floyd record or rock mags heralding the debut of Zeppelin on CD. I was a bit older with Zeppelin...that box probably came out in 90 or 91. So I was just a bit more advanced but my musical foundation had already formed. And Floyd were a huge piece of it. Zeppelin was built on top of what came before.

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