Monday, May 13, 2013

No. 388 – Hey Hey What Can I Do?

Performer: Led Zeppelin
Songwriters: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham
Original Release: Immigrant Song single
Year: 1970
Definitive Version: None

Matt, my roommate my senior year at Wabash, liked Led Zeppelin, maybe not as much as I did but certainly well enough to own Led Zeppelin I and II. In noting that his girlfriend didn’t like Zeppelin, which Beth, of course, didn’t either, Matt said something that stuck with me over the years.

He said that Led Zeppelin was a guy’s band in that they expressed the sentiments of guys. Matt said, “When the women don’t understand, Led understands.”

It was one of the most absurdly profound bits of wisdom I’d ever heard, and like Bluto Blutarsky’s advice to start drinking heavily, it’s one that I since have passed along to those in times of need.

Take me for example: When my relationship with Beth went down the drain the next year, Led Zeppelin’s Destroyer bootleg was a huge play during that time. After Melanie and I went our separate ways, I turned back to Destroyer. In my Grand Blanc hidey-hole, I needed all the solace and comfort I could get.

When Scott started going through his first round of trouble with the Alien Woman in 1991, I did two things for him: I took him to Toronto, as I mentioned, and I made him a Led Zeppelin tape. I know you’re not a big fan, I said to Scott, but trust me on this: Play this, and you’ll feel better.

The tape was from the Led Zeppelin box set, and it was every “When the women don’t understand” songs I could think of, which meant this song was one of the cornerstones. This song, of course, is a quintessential “When the women don’t understand” song. Scott’s still not a big Zeppelin fan, but he came to agree with me about this one thing after listening to the tape a few times.

After Matt’s first marriage failed and my engagement with Debbie dissolved within two years of each other at the turn of the century, sometimes we would ask the other whether he were listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin these days as a way to check in. Matt always appreciated that I remembered his advice from so long ago.

The advice apparently is timeless. A few years ago, I made Dave a thumb drive that included a ton of Pearl Jam, Live and songs from other acts … for archival purposes, of course. I included some Metallica for Dave’s son, Alex, who liked them and was getting into heavier rock.

A year or so ago, I got some bad news concerning Alex: He was pretty down after being dumped his first longtime girlfriend. Well, Dr. Will knew just the treatment for what ailed the young lad—a thumb drive of select Led Zeppelin songs, including this one, of course.

I wrote Alex a note explaining the prescription—listen as frequently as needed, because when the women don’t understand, Led understands. When I saw him after that, he thanked me and agreed it had been the right diagnosis.

And just as sure as I’m sitting here writing this, I will pass along Matt’s sage advice one day to my nephew John. Wisdom this keen isn’t meant to be kept, but shared.

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