I was paying a visit to my favorite rock history trivia site today, looking for a little inspiration for today’s post. Among the interesting tidbits was the information that today is Neil Young’s birthday (Happy Birthday!), the Velvet Underground made its debut, and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones was struck by a car and had both his legs broken. Then of course there was the information that on this day in 1966, the Grateful Dead played a Hell’s Angels dance in San Francisco. I’m not sure if I should be more surprised at the fact that the Hell’s Angels held “dances” or that they listened to the Grateful Dead.
Also on this date in 1971, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album landed in record stores. For convenience’s sake, it is often referred to as Led Zeppelin IV or Zoso (the nearest word to the symbols they used to represent themselves on the cover). But this album had no official title. Jimmy Page insisted it be released without one; I don’t remember his reasoning, but I do remember he was the one that wanted it that way. It is one of the most remarkable albums of their career, featuring some of their finest acoustic work alongside some of the hardest rock songs they ever wrote. Most people remember it for “Stairway to Heaven,” and I freely admit to loving that song, even if it is a cliché. But it’s not my favorite from that album.
This song seems like a dream, both gentle and strange. The kind of dream that when you wake up, you feel weirdly at peace, but you have no idea why. The images you can recall are fleeting at best, blurred and surreal, everything open to interpretation. That’s the kind of dream I like best.