Jeff Lybarger's Song OF The Day

From OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM Thu May 29 07:59:52 1997
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 07:25:32 -0400
(OUTRIDERJL@AOL.COM) From: Jeff Lybarger
To: ZEPPELIN-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Song of the day LIV

Well well, a very good day to you, oh tried and true DGers that you are. Todays song is one of those very awesome Zeppelin moments that only the crazies like us even know about. The casual fan has probably not even heard of this. There is power, mystery and tales of lust within, so it is with this I beckon you to join me. Back to the most incredible album design in history, Physical Grafitti, track 6 on the second lp, disc, cassette... whatever, clocking in at 4:10, "The Wanton Song."

Jimmy sets a very hectic pace with one of his typically killer riffs. This one is not subtle, rather it hits one upside the head with a most determined force. Bonzo is once again outstanding here. It almost seems as if Jimmy wrote some of these riffs just to see what phenomenal thing Bonham would come up with next.

A very excellent performance from Robert on this song, with a new twist on an old topic. This song is about lust, moving from one girl to another while on the road, but the subtlties that he uses in the lyrics help this rise above standard rock fare. Robert has a very intelligent way of telling a story, and this is a perfect example of that.

      "Silent woman in the night you came,
        took my seed from my shaking frame...
        Same old fire, another flame,
        and the wheel rolls on..."

What a classic opening line: "Took my seed from my shaking frame." That has to be one of the most eloquent interpretations of sex I have ever heard. In the next line though he says "same old fire, another flame", there is no doubting that this is one of his reflections of the groupie scene that surrounded Zeppelin so prominently.

      "Silent woman through the flames you come,
        from the deep behind the sun...
        It's my nightmares, my loaded gun,
        left me barely holding on..."

At this point Jimmy takes the song through a beautiful change. Such a nice counter part to the battering riff, a little bit funky, and a welcome change of pace. That Jimmy could not only write these incredible riffs, but then always found a way to counter them with something completely different, and yet tie them together so nicely, this is what sets him apart from his peers.

       "With blazing eyes you see my trembling hand,
         when we know the time has come...
         Lose my senses, lose command,
         feel your healing rivers run..."

Once again, this is pure poetry. On the surface one might have no idea what he's talking about, but when you think of the subject at hand it becomes quite clear. "My trembling hand, when we know the time has come." Whoa, what's this? Robert getting, uh, a bit nervous? Our hero? The next line is one of those beautiful lyrics that only he could deliver: "Lose my senses, lose command, feel your healing rivers run." Again, the fact that he can write a song about sex, which has been done so many times by so many people, and put a new slant on things, and be so subtle about it. Songs like this show his worth as a lyric writer. It shows his depth, it shows how far he had grown, and it shows the confidence he had gained along the way.

After some reflection Robert offers up some questioning lyrics. A young man with new found fame and fortune, falling in love at every turn. Or is he?

       "Is it every time I fall,
        that I think this is the one...
        ooh in the darkness can you hear me call?
        Another day has just begun...
        Another day..."

At this point Jimmy takes off on a most majestic and rocking solo. Ever the master of the studio Jimmy employs backwards echo and the use of a Leslie speaker for the organ effect during this break. Taking chances, exploring new territory, always looking for a new sound. Jimmy Page: Sonic Architect indeed.

      "Silent woman my face has changed,
       some who know in ways to come...
       Feel my fire needs a brand new flame,
       and the wheel rolls on...
       rolls on...
       rolls on...
       rolls on baby...
       ooohhhhhhh...."

And so it goes. Robert has spent his time and now needs to ramble on. Such was the lifestyle. The Physical Grafitti album has a couple of songs that show Robert reflecting on the groupie scene around him at that time. Certainly this one is indicative of those thoughts, as well as "Sick Again." Rather interesting to see the view he had at this time. One gathers that he was tiring of it. The same old faces every tour, the same old feeling after each encounter. Almost as if he is asking why. Questioning the reason behind it. Searching for something greater, a higher purpose. Or the woman who's never been born. The angel with a broken wing. The eternal search. And the wheel rolls on...

Oddly enough Zeppelin only played this in concert for a short time. In the 1975 European tour and the early shows from the same year in the US. It wouldn't be until Jimmy and Robert reunited in 1995 and started to perform it that this gem would see a live rendition again. Used with "Immigrant Song" has a segue this was a very powerful Page/Plant opening number.

An awesome track that you're not likely to hear on the radio anytime soon, but never the less, a definite highlight in the Led Zeppelin catalog. And the wheel rolls on...

Illusions,

Jeff

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