Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 07:39:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Song of the day LXIV
...ok, let's see, yep, got the smokes right here, incense burning, some good tunes playing, a nice glass of tea beside me, think i'm ready to... Oh, hello, you kinda caught me off guard there. Snuck in through the back door did ya? Well that's cool. What's that? The song? Oh yes, it's quite special, but then again, everything they did was special, ya know. Yes, yes, please, make yourself comfortable. Today we will journey back to 1975 and little gem about, oh wait a minute, I have to say this next part, it's in the contract, IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YOU MUST LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! STRONG SEXUAL CONTENT BELOW! Ok, now that that's out of the way, a nice little gem about, well let's not be shy about it, sex. And cars. Cars and sex? Oh yes, that's why Mr. Ford came up with the idea in the first place. A perfect marriage the two, really. Come on, see for yourself. From the Physical Graffiti album, disc/LP one, track four, clocking in at 5:38, "Trampled Underfoot."
In a similar fashion to "Night Flight" this track has a very brief intro and then jumps right into the vocals. Jonsey sets the pace with a slightly off the wall riff from the keyboard. Bonham joins in and when the vocals and guitar enter a funky new Zeppelin is unveiled. Robert's vocals are on the edge in a very cool way. His excitement for this track shows a raw, sexual energy that he exudes so well.
"Greasey slicked down body, groovy leather trim... I like the way you hold the road, mama it ain't no sin... Talkin 'bout love, Talkin 'bout love, Talkin' 'bout"
That lick that Jimmy plays following the chorus is so cool. Every one reading this can hear that lick, even without the song playing. It stays locked in our brains, it's clever, it's catchy, and it flat out grooves. Then he goes into the DA-DUHN, DA DA DA DA DA DA DUHN part and again it sticks with us. Such a short riff, but what an effect. What's that? Where's the sex in this? Well check this out:
"Trouble free transmission, hot your oils flow... Mama let me pump your gas, Mama let me do it all..."
Oh yeah, just the way he says "pump your gas", you can feel the tension rising. Uh, sorry, no pun intended. Lyrics in music relating cars and sex were nothing new, you can go back to when cars were first made and find references in song, from Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry, right up to the present day. What I love about this song, and the way Robert treats it, is the vocals are somewhat buried and sung somewhat slurred, making it difficult to catch exactly what he's saying, then he gives these subtle hints: "Talkin' 'bout love", as if there were really any doubt.
"Check that heavy metal, underneath your hood... Baby I could work all night, believe I got the perfect tools..."
Do you see the pattern here, as the song moves along, the lyrics reveal a little more each time. A little more of that sexual innuendo comes through. Classic Plant. Oh, and is he the modest one, "Baby I could work all night!" It's not always up to just you Robert, you need the perfect partner to "work all night."
"Model built with comfort, really built with style... Special, it's tradition, Mama let me feast my eyes..."
Oh come on now Robert! "Mama let me feast me eyes?" I hate this line. He surely could have come up with something better than that. This is typical metal rhetoric. And you put down Coverdale? But he makes up for it in the next line:
"Factory air-conditioner, heat begins to rise... Guranteed to run for hours, mama it's the perfect size"
Well that's better, still a bit full of himself, but that's ok. I love the humour in his lyrics. Who knows, maybe he's being dead serious, but it's so over the top that you have to see his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
The music in this song really doesn't change much, you have a very repetitive riff, a chorus, a change, a riff, and it all pretty much repeats over and over. You have that breakdown section near the middle, a mini jam and then it's more of the same from there on out. And you know what? They make it work. It never gets old. It never gets boring and at the end you want to hear the song again. That's creating excitement in your music. They did this sort of thing a lot, take a couple of ideas, arrange them accordingly, and make it work for five minutes or longer. Again, this shows the genius in their writing, knowing what they could do within the framework of a song and still keep it fresh.
"Oh yes, fully automatic, comes in every size makes me wonder what I did, before we synchronized..."
John Paul's contribution on this track is so wonderful. His talent was always on display, though sometimes you have to really pay attention to hear it. His subtle ways of enhancing a track aren't the first thing to grab your attention, but you would most assuredly notice if they were missing. Jimmy adds little touches of flavour, the wah wah pedal here, some backwards echo there, again, little subtle things that help make the perfect track.
"I can't stop talking about love... and my baby, my baby, my baby yeah."
And I can't stop talking about the magic that was Led-Zeppelin. I swear there are times when I hear a song for the 1,177th time, and yet I hear something new. It amazes me. That happened again today with "All My Love", but that's another story.
Did Zeppelin play this live? Oh yeah. From the time it emerged on record, 1975 to the end of their journey, 1980. Some of the live renditions would grow quite long, 12, 13 minutes, and the jamming was at a furious pace. A crowd pleaser, a fun song, a good song to drive down the highway to. Of course, if you're in the car when this is on, chances are you just might not be driving after all. And if you are...(be careful!)
Robert brought this out on his 1988 solo tour and even did a smoking version with Jimmy at the Hammersmith Odeon that same year. Too bad this wasn't played at the Atlantic 40th anniversary jam.
Next time you get behind the wheel, crank this one up. You'll get where you're going a lot faster, or if you're lucky, you may not get there at all. Haha!