The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Black Dog’

At last I can sleep

Posted by keithosaunders on June 23, 2016

Well we can all rest easy.  A judge has ruled that the 7 minute Led Zeppelin leviathan, Stairway To Heaven, was not plagiarized from another band’s song.  In 1968 Zeppelin, then just starting out, were on the road with a group called Spirit who performed an instrumental number – Taurus –  that was suspiciously similar to the acoustic guitar opening to Stairway to Heaven.

It’s not a stretch to think that Jimmy Page may have consciously or sub consciously stolen the riff.  After all he shamelessly “borrowed” several other blues riffs from artists such as Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Stairway to Heaven is unique no matter how you look at it.  No other Zeppelin song is quite like it in the way it takes its time building intensity. From the solo acoustic guitar opening, to the screaming heavy metal final minute and a half, it’s almost, but not quite through-composed. (Its verse repeats several times)  It’s a good song but it’s a stand alone.  We like Zeppelin for their riff heavy, hard grooving rockers such as Dazed and Confused, Living Loving Maid, and Black Dog.  You tolerated the folky Going to Californias to get to the Misty Mountain Hops.

For that matter, where is Spirit’s lawsuit against Emerson Lake and Palmer?  ELP had an entire record called Taurus!  If Spirit wants they can always use my law firm, Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.

Posted in music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Enough with the kinder

Posted by keithosaunders on September 26, 2015

I suppose it was inevitable that as Facebook and the humblebragging that goes along with it have become ubiquitous so have videos of children precociously doing or saying adult things.  Today I saw a video of a young European girl playing the drums along to Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog. She had all of John Bonham’s fills down and you can tell she was coached thoroughly and that she was probably a quick study.  Except that it doesn’t matter.  All it proves is that she has above average concentration.  She didn’t create anything and to be honest she didn’t even groove.

I saw a video of two pre-teens dancing a sensual mambo.  They were resplendent in Cuban drag and they had all the steps down.  Impressive?  Not to me.  In fact I found it a little creepy having these two youngsters ape a sex-infused dance.

Then there are the pre-teen jazz musicians.  Listen to that kid wail on Giant Steps.  Wow!  But here’s the thing:  An important facet of improvisation is telling your story – it is the musical equivalent of your life’s experience.  What experience does a 10 year old have?  I would hope not much!

Parents, we know what you’re trying to do.  Congratulations, you have a ‘gifted kid.’ Now that your passive aggressive humblebrag is complete, how about tamping down your zeal and letting your kids be kids.

Posted in jazz, life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Black Dog: Seperating the men from the boys

Posted by keithosaunders on May 18, 2010

So many bands followed in the wake of Led Zeppelin, — Aerosmith, ACDC, Van Halen, and Black Sabbath — and some of them were pretty good. The best of them, such as Aerosmith, could turn out anthemic hooks with an ease that some would say rivaled that of Jimmy Page.

Here’s where they differed. Zeppelin made the complicated sound easy. Case in point is “Black Dog,” from the 4th (untitled) album, which on first listen sounds like a run of the mill blues-rock riff. But try counting the bridge. (the instrumental section with the guitar and bass unison) Is it in 4? Is it in 3? Both? Better yet, try playing it with your garage band and see how far you get.

John Paul Jones, Zep’s bassist is supposedly responsible for the arrangement, but this does not deter from the fact that the band pulled it off with offhanded aplomb that sounded like they barely broke a sweat.  Here is Jones’ on the writing of Black Dog:  “I wanted to try an electric blues with a rolling bass part. But it couldn’t be too simple. I wanted it to turn back on itself. I showed it to the guys, and we fell into it. We struggled with the turn-around, until John Bonham figured out that you just four-time as if there’s no turn-around. That was the secret.” 

This does not fully explain what is going on in the bridge, but at least it is an acknowledgement that something quirky is occurring.  What I really want to know is where do they consider one to be?  Is the beginning of the riff a pickup, or is it in fact beat one?  Is there a bar of 2 there or does it actually even out?  [By the way, this is why as a listener I am never comfortable with exotic odd-time jazz songs.  I’m too busy counting bars to enjoy the solos!]

And what about the band’s vocalist, Robert Plant? What did he have to do with all of this? He only had one of the great time feelings in rock history. He had to carry the melody by himself for the first four bars. It’s his pulse that set up the entire rest of the song. His best was so wide and so confident that he may as well have been a second drummer. Witness “The Ocean,” in which the group had a long 2 bar hold before all four of them entered as one.

This band was not to be trifled with.

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