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The Song Remains The Same: That ’70s Music

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By Varun Shrivats:

If there’s one topic of discussion which ensures that a fight ensues between the experienced and the going-to-experience generations of a family, it is that on music. And if I got a Rupee for each time I heard a guy say “My Grandpa and I totally dig the new album of XYZ”, I can state with conviction that I would not be able to buy a chewing gum in the entirety of my lifetime.

The above stated example is no secret. Every teen movie depicts at least one scene wherein a teenager is shown head-banging to music worthy of being called noise, at which point of time an elder makes an entrance and gives the teenager a piece of his/her mind, adding a further statement: “What kind of taste the kids of today have developed!”

If you are the teenager, you would probably say (after the elder departs, of course) “Bah, what does he/she know about the style and hip-hop of the modern times.” If you are the elder, you would probably go to the adjoining room, and let yourself immerse in nostalgia of the music of times when you had been the teenager.

This is only natural- to each his own. But when one decides to leave the frame of subjective thinking and goes on to think objectively, will the teenager of today be justified in making that aforementioned statement? The answer to this question depends on the answer to a simpler question: How does today’s music compare to that heard in an earlier time period, say the ‘70s?

This question is a simpler one to answer, because the answer to it will come as unanimous, once the two opposing parties hear each other’s choice of music, full to their glory, and draw comparisons. The adult will no doubt stand by his earlier formed opinions about today’s music, while the teenager will be at a loss of words to help him win the argument.

Those acquainted with the music of the ‘70s might have guessed at an earlier time, with the help of the title of this article, as to whose side of the argument this article will speak for. The title shares its name with one of the songs of the rock band Led Zeppelin, and the name of the movie released in 1976, based on their concert at Madison Square Garden, New York. Now that we’ve arrived on the subject of Led Zeppelin, I will use this band as the tool to support my standpoint.

Led Zeppelin were a British rock band formed by the guitarist Jimmy Page in 1968. The band took the world by storm, and comprehensively shifted the taste of public from progressive rock to hard rock, though their songs varied widely from each other. They toured the United States, Europe, and Japan, and by mid ‘70s, were the biggest rock band in the world, having managed to outsell cult bands like The Rolling Stones. Their concert at Florida saw 56,800 people jumping and shouting for over two hours, thus breaking a previous concert attendance record set by The Beatles.

The band reached their zenith by late ‘70s, but unfortunately, in 1980, the death of their drummer John Bonham due to asphyxiation from his own vomit (he was a drinker, if there ever was any) led to the breaking up of the band. Since then, the remaining band members have chosen different pathways in lives and have turned out quite successful in their respective ventures.

The sole reason I’ve chosen Led Zeppelin as the driving example of this article is the fact that they managed to change the music world by being different. Just being different is not enough. They were good at being different. Their live performances saw them improvise on many songs, and songs like “Dazed and confused”, which was a 6 minute-something long song was played for over 25 minutes in one of their concerts. Many widely consider Led Zeppelin as the pioneers of the Hard Rock and Heavy metal genre. Though this might be true (courtesy of songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker”), songs like “Going to California”(played with acoustic guitar) and “Since I’ve been loving you” immediately stand out to make the following challenge: “Try confining Led Zeppelin to one genre of music”. This band is unique, in that they have songs featuring guitar solo (“White Summer Black Mountain side”), drums solo (“Moby Dick”), and piano solo (“No Quarter”). And their vocalist, Robert Plant, sang some of the most powerful lyrics in rock history, with a voice and passion that made many feel that Plant was the best rock singer ever. As for Jimmy Page, the guy could do anything with a guitar. Or for that matter, with any instrument of the guitar family, for he played the Banjo as well. One more thing he could do was make an ordinary violin bow priceless at auctions, because of his concerts where he played guitar using the bow.

The present day misses such music. 20 million people would not have requested for an entry into the 02 arena, in London, for the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in 2007, if music of equal standards were available in abundance. Even legends like Paul Mccartney (of The Beatles) and David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) ensured their presence at the concert. The one song that everyone associates with Led Zeppelin is supposedly the most requested and played album oriented FM song and also ranked number one on the list of greatest Rock and Roll guitar solos ever, which was published in an article from the 29 January 2009 Guitar World magazine, supporting the title of this article- The Song Remains the same. Actually, it does not. It gets better after each time you hear it.

If the still-lasting demand for Classic Rock songs doesn’t act as a wake-up call for today’s musicians, at least Facebook pages like “I sounded like ABC. Then I turned 4” should. And hopefully all this will incite them to add more quality into their songs and try something different. It’s not as though we are fighting for a lost cause. There are many great bands and artists out there, and all that is needed is a flame and hunger for quality and individuality to trigger a passion-level for music that can match the levels of the ‘70s. Hopefully, our artists will shell out quality material, and make people born fifty years from now feel: “Wish I was born in the first decade of the 21st century to witness XYZ performing live”.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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