#889: ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – Led Zeppelin

I’ve spoken at length already about how many songs that I’ve got in this list are ingrained within my memory due to the fact that I listened to these songs ad nauseam while in the presence of my parents. Well, I’m here to tell you that today’s song is going to be another one of those stories.

In the early ’90s, my father must have told my mother that he was a fan of Led Zeppelin, because the very next Christmas, she bought him every Led Zeppelin album that for sale. In case that doesn’t seem important, remember that this was Australia in the early ’90s, when CD prices were the complete opposite of cheap. Needless to say, I was forced to listen to Led Zeppelin a lot while growing up.

Don’t get me wrong though, that’t not saying I dislike the group. In fact, I appreciate their role in rock music, and Led Zeppelin IV is an absolutely classic record, but once you’re forced to listen to every Led Zeppelin repeatedly, they get a bit tedious. Once I was forced to listen to the entirety of The Song Remains The Same twice at 1am on a Saturday morning while we entertained a TV repairman who stayed at our house drinking our wine. He got so drunk that he was forced to get his girlfriend to pick him up. He said he’d pick his van up later, but that took a week. I don’t know how he got to work during that week, but the last thing I remember him saying to me was “Check out the guitar solo on ‘Dazed And Confused‘! It’s so amazing!” I was sort of sick of them by this point.

Around 2005, I got my first mp3 player, and my father seemed to be astonished by this sudden ability to catalogue our entire music collection digitally. We decided to take advantage of this fancy software and take a step backwards by burning a whole bunch of songs to a CD. I still love doing this, and probably make a handful of mix CDs a month, but this time, it was for the sake of listening to them in our car, because my mother had once said “Oh no, this car radio doesn’t need an auxiliary cord.” This was something my father and I expressed confusion over for years to come.

My father took over my iTunes one day, and picked out a bunch of songs for me to burn to disc for him. He picked two CDs’ worth, and I chose a running order. What I consider my best attempt at mixtapery was once derided by my father as being ‘awful’, but I maintain that if you want a CD mixed well, you come to me. The first track of the first CD was Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. Somehow, we ended up with only this CD in my dad’s car. So whenever we would drive to my basketball games, we’d listen to this CD in its entirety. I began to start associating Led Zeppelin with basketball, which to this date, makes no sense to me, really.

I have no idea how many times I listened to this song, but I feel as though I’ve listened to Robert Plant have sex about a thousand times just by hearing this song. I’ve always been amazed at the level of musicianship employed by the group on this song. It feels completely free and almost improvised, yet at the same time, sounds like the product of thousands of hours of practicing each segment. And then there’s Robert Plant’s voice, which results in him sounding like some sort of sex-god with his moans, wails, and intense charisma. Every time I heard this song, I wanted to be Robert Plant. Not because of the sex-god part, but bec-well, actually, yeah, a bit.

“It came from, if memory serves, it came just from just having a perfect symmetry of musicianship, where we could just go off on a tangent, just go off here, there and everywhere, and come back together again,” Robert Plant once said. “Jimmy had just discovered the theremin, that sort of “whoop-whoop-whoop,” and it just sort of got into the groove, if you can use that term in 1983. And it worked perfectly. But that was the way we played. That was how we felt we expressed ourselves best, with all the emphasis, and then having the abstraction in the middle of it. It broke it up in order to turn people’s heads.”

To this day, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ sounds like a piece of music that came together through an example of divinity. It sounds like a song in which every musician who played on the track were granted the right amount of inspiration at the right time to result in this perfect piece of music. It’s a good song, is what I guess this mini-essay boils down to.

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