Led Zeppelin: Katie Melua on rock'n'roll riffs that rake the psyche
Friday 07 December 2007
My light Spanish picking is far from Jimmy Page's epic guitar solos, but that doesn't mean late at night I don't pretend to be able to play them. I can do the dreaded intro for "Stairway to Heaven"; it's a rite of passage for any guitarist. Occasionally, the eight year-old Katie comes out and I have to jump up and down on the bed playing air guitar to "Black Dog" or "Immigrant Song". It's lucky I have good noise insulation at my West London flat because you have to play them really, really loud.
All my guitar friends, mostly blokes, are fans. We share the passion for Led Zeppelin, but it's not the type of thing I generally share with my girlfriends, although if they bought the Led Zeppelin albums Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin IV they would be astounded at how many of the songs they recognise. Teenagers always hear a Led Zeppelin song and say "Who's that? I love that song!"
I wasn't around in their heyday, I'm only 23, but I grew up in Georgia with my uncles who listened to Led Zeppelin, Queen, Metallica and Black Sabbath. It was Led Zeppelin that stood out. As a very young child, I'd sneak into my uncle's room which was covered with Led Zeppelin posters. I'd head bang and play air guitar and jump on the bed to the songs on my favourite album, Led Zeppelin IV.
Musically, they are complicated, with seven to eight-minute songs, huge extended intros, with odd time signatures. At a young age the hooks and riffs went straight into my psyche and the songs are bound to capture anyone of any age. It's rare to hear a hardcore metal band and still have the song going round in your head because it is so catchy.
I rediscovered Led Zeppelin when I was 15 years old and I'd moved to England. Songs such as "Kashmir" from Physical Graffiti, and "Whole Lotta Love" from the album Led Zeppelin II, blew me away. Also I started to appreciate the folkier, more experimental songs such "When The Levee Breaks". The guitar riffs of Page were the lifeblood of the songs but Robert Plant's vocals sounded as if he was playing an instrument. Listening to Led Zeppelin, it almost felt as if there was a competitiveness between them that raised the stakes and made the music even better.
Obviously, Led Zeppelin hasn't influenced my music on the surface, as it doesn't sound anything like Led Zeppelin. I think the band has influenced my live work more than my music because I try to rock out on stage, improvise and be energetic. I've seen footage of them performing, but I've never seen them play live.
I suppose a lot of people my age wouldn't be in to Led Zeppelin but most musicians like them. There is nothing dated about their music. There is still that innovative spirit to it. They are not the kind of band you listen to in a romantic situation. Mainly I listen to Led Zeppelin when I want to fall in love with music. Again.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre