Over the Hills and Far Away

Watching Led Zeppelin in action, I ponder on how much of their image (and, of course, their sound) was built on their understanding of mysticism and mythology. No question, Jimmy Page fancied himself some sort of fire shaman, with his dragon suit and his backlit posturing. Led Zeppelin started out as a blues-based band, but by the time of their full fledged success, the blues was only nominally an influence. What they really set out to do was create a suitably epic soundtrack to the historical mythology slash fantasy that had become quite in vogue during the 60’s. The sense that perhaps a particularly English mythology was somewhat lacking in comparison to the cool mythology of other cultures was what had inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create his richly populated world, and it was a feeling that struck a deep chord. The rock demimonde of the 60’s was fascinated with all things fantasy, from the English-pastoral to the quasi-historical to the darkly occult. Page and Plant really made it cool like nobody else did, thanks to being head and shoulders above most of their peers in both the musicianship and charisma departments. Being thundering sex gods really helped sell the fantasy. Led Zeppelin’s music, besides the obvious requirement of being good music, filled the same need that fantasy novels and before them religion-based myths have done; the need to imagine a world of something more.


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