I just counted my Zappa albums. I own 69 of them (CDs, actually...I only have about 12 on vinyl). A few of those can actually be removed for repetition (Most of Läther, for instance, was released on four separate albums, so it would probably not be counted, and Francesco Zappa is actually him conducting someone else's music, so I could skip that one). My point is, I'm stealing your idea. I'm going to bracket 64 Zappa albums and then attempt to conduct a tournament to find the best one.
Outstanding, fully endorsed.
I knew he was prolific, but, damn. That’s a lotta Zappa. Looking forward to it.
Dazed and Confused // Led Zeppelin
Our first upset of the tournament comes in as the #5 seed “The Rain Song” takes out #4 “Dazed and Confused.” (Remember that in the Best Zeppelin Song bracket, we feature the losing song in each matchup.)
Led Zeppelin’s first album is the one that changed everything for me. One day at my grandma’s house, I discovered a bunch of old albums left behind by my uncle. I was about eleven. He was in either Michigan or Virginia at the time, so we called, and he said I could have them. I had heard of Led Zeppelin by that time, but only what got played on the radio. That meant the old WLS-AM, which meant I knew a lot more about the Bay City Rollers and Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods than I did about Zeppelin. I’d probably heard some bastardized, cut-down version of “Stairway” or “Whole Lotta Love” and nothing else.
I took the albums home and, not having a better idea, played them in chronological order. Within about 30 seconds, hearing that ridiculous kick drum part in “Good Times, Bad Times, ” I knew. I just knew. This was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. Nothing would change my life this dramatically again until a few years later in eighth grade, but that’s another story.
There were several candidates to choose from this album for the tourney, including “Good Times, Bad Times,” “Communication Breakdown,” and “How Many More Times.” All amazing songs, game changers. But “Dazed and Confused” sits a notch above them all. The cliché is to associate this song with being wasted, and I can certainly see that. I endorse it fully, even. That bass line, man. But listen again from the POV of a guy who has just been completely wrecked by a woman. The alternating bursts of high and low energy, the confusion, the violence and self-hatred. She destroyed him but he has to have more. You’ve been there. I read the emo quotes you reblog.
This song speaks to something very fundamental in all of us.
“”When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.” All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.””
Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, 1978 Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
I have never, will never, could never hurt one of my babies. If some other adult were to harm them, I’d probably commit murder. So why should my standard be any different?
i. I worked a half day today. I always do on this day, and I rather like it. Most people are out of the office, the markets are slow, and it’s a chance to get things done and enjoy some relative quiet in a place where that just doesn’t ever happen otherwise.
ii. We keep discovering gifts left by the people we bought the house from 3.5 years ago. The latest is a furnace full of sawdust due to the guy’s unventilated basement wood shop. It’s cool, though. A new furnace is exactly what I wanted for Christmas, and my birthday, Easter, and Memorial Day, too. Very thoughtful.
iii. Relatedly, we’re out of firewood. More is coming tomorrow, being delivered by a guy whom I believe is gouging us, but whatever. I’d rather pay twice the going rate than buy it from the local dude who still proudly flies a McCain-Palin banner over his garage and has P*ckers posters in the window. In fact, I’d actually rather freeze to death than patronize him.
iv. Thanksgiving was lovely, in spite of living out the twin clichés of being the IT guy asked to “fix” the computer and overhearing a lot of uninformed political talk. The only bummer, and it’s a big one, was observing the effects of entropy on a 99.5-year-old brain. Grandpa’s still here, except he’s not.
v. Some old friends are in from out of town and we’re meeting them for dinner. He said he wanted a divey Italian restaurant, the kind with checkered tablecloths and chianti bottles wrapped in twine. Elmwood Park is full of those places. When I called for a reservation, the girl who answered sounded just like Adriana from The Sopranos. Bada bing!
They are talking healthcare reform in the other room
This is actually preferable.
Trying it half-full
Optimism doesn’t come naturally to me, but here goes:
- Though my house is basically crumbling down around me, I still have one, and I’m thankful.
- Though my career is a dumpster fire, I am employed, and I’m thankful.
- Though many I love are old and/or sick, they are still here, and I’m thankful.
- Though it’s freaking stupid cold out there, I have a fireplace, and I’m thankful.
- The people in this house love me and I love them. No “though” about Team Scholvin. I am deeply thankful.
- Though every project I started this year now sits idle in varying degrees of completion less than full, at least I started them, and learned something doing each, and I’m thankful.
- Though there is kale, there are also honeycrisp apples, and I’m thankful.
- Though the old dog can’t navigate the stairs anymore, he’s still got a wag for me when I help him up, and I’m thankful.
- Though the universe is cold and uncaring, it gave rise to you and me, and to scotch, and I’m thankful.
- Though this world teems with assholes, I have amazing friends—including you—to help me laugh/cry/rage at it all, and I’m thankful.
If Wikipedia is correct Achilles Last Stand was out for a full year prior to Heart's Barracuda. This means Barracuda was heavily influenced by Achilles Last Stand or it just ripped off Zeppelin outright?
Oh, man, I’m not one to accuse anyone of stealing. (Except Mayer.) Call it tribute, or maybe homage. And in any case, clearly all is forgiven since it was Heart singing “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center thing that made Robert cry…
Achilles Last Stand // Led Zeppelin
So, the first thing that’s unusual about the Best Zeppelin Song bracket is that I will be writing about the losing song in each matchup. That way, I get to post them all. Otherwise, the winner would post three times, and what fun is that?
In our first contest of the tourney, we have the #1 seed “The Lemon Song” beating #8 “Achilles Last Stand” fairly handily. But remember, brave Achilles, there’s no real loser here, and your last stand was not in vain. Especially when we are talking about the song that none other than Jimmy Page once declared to be his favorite Zeppelin song. Many Zepheads will cite this among his top personal performances ever. There are so many layers to the guitars here, at least 4 major parts that I can identifiy. Probably more. Among the more amazing things about the recording is that he did all those overdubs in a single night.
I’m not quite sure what the hell Robert is talking about here. I think he went on a trip to Morocco, came back, ate some acid, and wrote what he saw. Good enough for me. And how much 80s hair metal was influenced by the rhythm section’s eighth/sixteenth/sixteenth dum-dugu dum-dugu churn?
As far as playing into the tourney, to be honest, there’s not a lot I love on Presence when I’m not altered, so this was a very easy choice to represent in the #8 slot. As we’ll discuss in the future, the play-in to the #1 seed opposite this, from their best album, was brutal.