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The Durable Led Zeppelin

Page 6 of 6

I don't think there are too many people who are capable of it. Maybe one. Joni Mitchell. That's the music that I play at home all the time, Joni Mitchell. Court and Spark I love because I'd always hoped that she'd work with a band. But the main thing with Joni is that she's able to look at something that's happened to her, draw back and crystallize the whole situation, then write about it. She brings tears to my eyes, what more can I say? It's bloody eerie. I can relate so much to what she says. "Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads/They say I've changed."* I'd like to know how many of her original friends she's got. I'd like to know how many of the original friends any well-known musician has got. You'd be surprised. They think – particularly that thing of change – they all assume that you've changed. For the worse. There are very few people I can call real, close friends. They're very, very precious to me.

How about you?
Plant: I live with the people I've always lived with. I'm quite content. It's like the remnants of my old Beatnik days. All my old mates, it lends to a lot of good company. There's no unusual reaction to my trip at all because I've known them so long. Now and again there will be the occasional joke about owing someone two dollars from the days in '63 when I was a broke blues singer with a washboard, but it's good. I'm happy.

Do you have any favorite American guitarists?
Page: Well, let's see, we've lost the best guitarist any of us ever had and that was Hendrix. The other guitarist I started to get into died also, Clarence White. He was absolutely brilliant. Gosh. On a totally different style – the control, the guy who played on the Maria Muldaur single, "Midnight at the Oasis." Amos Garrett. He's Les Paul oriented and Les Paul is the one, really. We wouldn't be anywhere if he hadn't invented the electric guitar. Another one is Elliot Randall, the guy who guested on the first Steely Dan album. He's great. Band-wise, Little Feat is my favorite American group.

The only term I won't accept is "genius." The term "genius" gets used far too loosely in rock & roll. When you hear the melodic structures of what classical musicians put together and you compare it to that of a rock & roll record, there's a hell of a long way rock & roll has to go. There's a certain standard in classical music that allows the application of the term "genius," but you're treading on thin ice if you start applying it to rock & rollers. The way I see it, rock & roll is folk music. Street music. It isn't taught in school. It has to be picked up. You don't find geniuses in street musicians, but that doesn't mean to say you can't be really good. You get as much out of rock & roll artistically as you put into it. There's nobody who can teach you. You're on your own and that's what I find so fascinating about it.

Last question. What did you think about President Ford's children naming Led Zeppelin as their favorite group on national television?
Plant: I think it's really a mean deal that we haven't been invited around there for tea. Perhaps Jerry thought we'd wreck the joint. Now if we'd had a publicist three tours back, he might be on the road with us now. I was pleased to hear that they like our music around the White House. It's good to know they've got taste.

Final comments?
Page: Just say that I'm still searching for an angel with a broken wing. It's not very easy to find them these days. Especially when you're staying at the Plaza Hotel.

*©1975, Joaneline Music Inc.
*"Both Sides Now" ©1968, Siquomb Publishing

This story is from the March 13th, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone, and also appears in Rolling Stone's new collectors edition, Led Zeppelin: The Ultimate Guide to Their Music & Legend, on sale November 2nd.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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