Lex Neon on Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin, etc.)

Led Zeppelin is sometimes classified as a “heavy metal” band, but Lex doesn’t believe they should be. Most metal bands don’t capture the jazzy / R&B feel of Bonham’s right foot, Plant’s mock-American wail, Jonesy’s creative arranging, or Jimmy Page’s mystical feel of string instruments, or his killer riffs. Jimmy Page has a birthday on January 9.

It was my first day of high school, and I was scared. I was 25 miles away from home, but it was my choice. I had chosen to “get learned” outside of my district. I went from class to class hoping I wouldn’t get lost. During lunch break, I sat alone reading a book I had started the previous summer called Hammer Of The Gods, about one of my favorite bands, Led Zeppelin. Jimmy Page was one of my guitar gods. I had learned the riffs; now was the time to learn the tale.

After lunch, I went in search of my music class. When I got there, I walked into a classroom large enough to house an orchestra. There were twin grand pianos, and 7 small practice cubicles. There was also a room that housed new acoustic guitars donated by a local music store. That’s where I met Tommy. He was sitting in a metal folding chair, playing “Heartbreaker” from the second Zeppelin record, appropriately titled Led Zeppelin II (aka The Brown Bomber). Surrounding Tommy were some others that would be my first new friends at Canoga Park High School.

I stood there and listened. I was a good player because I practiced a lot. Tommy was naturally gifted but he still practiced all of the time. He was a great musician, and I wanted to get to know him. No one else was joining in with him, so just as he was finishing up “Heartbreaker,” I grabbed an acoustic out of the music closet, and sat next to him. The song that immediately follows “Heartbreaker” on the Brown Bomber is “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid (She’s Just A Woman).”

You should have seen Tommy’s face when I screamed out the lyrics “With a purple umbrella and a fifty cent hat,” just as he was hitting the first chord of “Livin’.” We automatically fell in with the song at the same time. It was perfect. I worked the rhythm and vocals, and he handled Page’s leads with incredible accuracy. After the song, we talked like long lost brothers about Zeppelin, the Doors, and other music we liked. It was also his first year, and he was scared just like I was, but got past it when when he saw all the guitars in our classroom and promptly went berserk. Turned out that we were studying the same books about Zeppelin, too.

During that first year, we’d practice our music lessons, the Led Zeppelin songbook, and other classic rock tunes together. We’d meet in the music room during lunch and work out Page’s guitar parts album by album. He pushed me to play as well as him, or better. I thought that we would put together a band that could take over the world. He was my cosmic musical twin. There were other guys with us that gradually dropped out of sight, largely due to their time being taken up by recreational drug use. Tommy also gradually went that way. He didn’t return to school for the second year.

I saw him a few years later, riding his motor scooter to work at his ol’ man’s garage. I was on my way to an early morning music class at the local college and he yelled out the lyrics of “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” to get my attention. We spoke for a few minutes, but he had to go. He asked if my number was still the same. I said yes, and waited on a call that never came.

Zeppelin’s music reminds me of the first few years of discovering what I could accomplish on the guitar. It reminds me of finding and losing my “cosmic musical twin.” Page’s guitar scores made the transition into high school a lot easier. For me and my friends, the music room was our turf, and the Led Zeppelin songbook was our bible. It was a great school year, those nine months giving birth to new musical possibilities.

I still miss Tommy.

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Note: The date listed on the album shown below is for the remastered version. The original was released October 22, 1969.

Currently listening :
Led Zeppelin II
By Led Zeppelin
Release date: 21 June, 1994

~ by Poppermost on September 6, 2008.

2 Responses to “Lex Neon on Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin, etc.)”

  1. […] post by lexneon Explore posts in the same categories: […]

  2. […] Original post by lexneon […]

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