I never was a Led Zeppelin fan, Stairway to Heaven and all that.
Led Zeppelin formed when I was an undergraduate student in 1968, and were probably at their height of fame during the 1970s when I was away in South and Central America. The band just didn’t figure on my musical radar. And by the time I returned to the UK in 1981, Led Zeppelin were no longer active. Of course I knew about them, but their music, (whatever genre it was, heavy metal or not) never found favor with me.
I knew all about lead singer Robert Plant, long mane of blond hair, bare chest and the like. I never paid much attention to his ability as a vocalist. Until October 2007 that is.
In an extraordinary collaboration, Plant teamed up with multi-Grammy Award winner bluegrass singer and musician Alison Krauss, releasing Raising Sand to wide acclaim.
I’d first encountered the music of Alison Krauss around 2008 when I was on home leave that year, and later wrote about her and Union Station in 2012 (one of the first posts I wrote). But I’d not come across Raising Sand then. It wasn’t until I retired and returned to the UK that I first came across that album. And in the intervening years, it has become a firm favorite. The second track, Killing the Blues, is my favorite track, and here are Plant and Krauss performing on the BBC show, Later . . . with Jools Holland.
Now, fourteen years later, they have renewed their distinctive collaboration with the release of Raising the Roof in November 2021. Both albums were produced by T Bone Burnett.
This album was a present from my wife last Christmas. I’m still working through it, and not certain yet which is my favorite track. Nevertheless, Raising the Roof is as good as Raising Sand, and has also been widely praised. The fifth track, Searching for my Love, is a perfect vehicle for Plant’s vocals.
The ninth track, Last Kind Words Blues is a good example of how Krauss and Plant cross genres. It was written and originally recorded by country blues singer Geeshie Wiley in 1930.
Yesterday, I’d come across an iPod Nano that I had misplaced for more than a year. I normally use that iPod in the car, so decided to copy Raising the Roof on to it (and another iPod Classic).
It was mid-afternoon, almost 15:30. I was sitting in the living room, reading one of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series novels, and listening to Raising the Roof. My cellphone was on charge across the room, but I did hear the distinctive ping of a WhatsApp message but didn’t immediately bother to check it out.
It was from my elder daughter Hannah who lives in St Paul, Minnesota. It would have been almost 09:30 over there. Sitting at her desk (working from home for the past two years during the Covid pandemic) she had been listening to public radio, and heard an item about Raising the Roof.
As you can see from my reply, it was quite a coincidence that I should be listening to that album (probably the eleventh track Going Where the Lonely Go) at the very moment she sent me the message.
Led Zeppelin were never ‘heavy metal’
Thanks for the clarification. It was an assumption on my part, and I have slightly reworded my blog post to reflect that.