Wednesday, December 10, 2008

35 years ago: a dirigible dream.

I had a joyous, vivid Led Zeppelin dream the other night. The dream put me into the summer of 1973 as a shaggy-headed teenager. In the dream, this Zeppelin performance was my first big show. A sold out arena show was a novelty to me and I was also somehow fully aware of just how culturally/musically important Zeppelin was in 1973 and how legendary they'd become. My shaggy little head knew this was an event of a lifetime.

A 40-something lady ripped my ticket at the gate. She had a big permed-out hairdo. She wasn't a fan of the music per se, but she was living vicariously through all the young fans swarming the venue. She smiled at me. She didn't say anything, but with her eyes and smile she told me "kid, you're in for a treat."

I had floor tickets and made it about half way up to the stage with the lights still up. The crowd was as important as the band for the scene. The buzz of excited talk and kids drunk, stoned, high and happy swirled in the air and passed through me. My natural high oozed out of my pores and steamed from the top of my head and joined the cloud of raucous positive energy in the rafters.

The whole scene of the dream was bathed in the colors of the Song Remains the Same live Zeppelin album/film, which was also recorded in 1973.

The band didn't play much in my dream. The dream was more about anticipation: the wait for the band to start, the floor-stomping, and the gasp and cheer that catches people mid-sentence when the lights go down abruptly. That moment is one of the most joyous things one can experience. Contradictorily, perhaps even more joyous than hearing the performance itself.

Zeppelin called the crowd that swarmed the arenas to see them, "the ocean" and yes, they wrote a song about it that they indeed performed in 1973. This clip captures that joyous human ocean and band sailing on top it, full of themselves, cocky as all hell but sucking me in every time (in dreams and awake) with vicarious rock star exuberance.

(I'm pretty sure this dream of sold-out rock show anticipation was subconsciously inspired by the anticipation of the return to the stage of one of my favorite live acts, Phish, after a five year hiatus. They're playing three nights in a row in Hampton Beach, VA in March. The shows sold out in a fraction of a second. I got shut out. Scalpers are asking ridiculous prices
but I will somehow get in the door and be part of that joyous human ocean when the lights go down on March 6th 2009.)

And of course I'll get to live that joyous lights-go-down in the arena moment in just one more day, when Neil Young takes the stage at the Spectrum...

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