Robert Plant in San Diego
Robert Plant returns to San Diego on July 21st as part of the Bayside Concert Series by Viejas. He has a lot going on with his new album “The Mighty Rearranger” and his new band The Strange Sensation but the possessor of the “Hammer of the Gods” did find time to give us a buzz.
First off, he’s really proud of his band. And it’s not a false pride. Plant’s always followed his musical heart and with Jimmy Page and Bonzo and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, we saw that it could take journeys into a variety of soundscapes foreign (middle-eastern), ancient (Celtic folk), and of course power-driven, full-on sustained blues from right here in the good old U S of A.
Robert Plant also has a fond penchant for a much-localized music that he calls “psychedelic indo-rock from the west coast.” You can do all the Google searches you want on that genre. I dare you. I’m not exactly sure what that is because I read it on his website AFTER I spoke with him but your guess is just as valid as mine is. I’d like to think that it’s the “cutting edge cool/ mushroom bad trip bad” semi-Indianesque music that was made by the bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service or for that matter, even Robbie Krieger in those hypnotic DOORS ragas.
Does Robert like playing outdoors on San Diego Bay where the temperature can take a 30-degree temperature variance in the summer time? In a surprisingly young sounding, very articulate voice (and with a beguiling sense of humor) he answered.
“Well I come from the land of the ice and snow from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow..." (from Led Zeppelin’s THE IMMIGRANT SONG-ed.) "You know, I actually do like it quite a bit. The air is moist and cool and it gives you a bit of fullness. The audience is more comfortable and ... you know ... sometimes I might just go out on a boat before one of those shows. Just for a bit of relaxation… just to float about a bit.”
I took Robert Plant “Inside the Rocker’s Studio” and asked him my group of signature questions. What would you be if you could be anything other than a rock and roll front star?
“King Arthur.” he answered with a slight chuckle (as if to say you asked for it mate!)
Why is that?
“The legends, the mythology, the romance of that story. I’m just kidding but I suppose there’s something attractive about the idea. Let’s see... anything but a rocker. I’d probably be on the city council in Wales making sure the dogs**t’s out off the street.”
My favorite question to ask any rock star is about music. “Robert”, I propose, “It’s a dark lonely night in the middle of nowhere and you are alone in a diner that has a jukebox in the corner. You have in your pocket a magic quarter. No matter what songs are on the jukebox, if you use that quarter, any song you want to hear will play. What song does Robert Plant want to hear?”
“There was this song,” he answers back, “when we thought that the music was going to change everything. If You’re Going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”
Was I surprised at that answer? From the possessor of the Hammer of the Gods, a top 40 ditty about gentle people and a love-in in San Francisco? I was stunned.
“Explain that to me Robert. Why that song?” I asked this question with total respect for this incredibly talented man. This is a song that I have heard and dismissed at least a thousand times.
“That time was special. Just for a moment we thought people, music, could change the world. Of course, music had an important impact, and was a profound influence at the time. But, in the end, it didn’t have the effect we hoped it would. That song is a perfect snapshot of what was going on.”
In those few words, Robert Plant transcended cool.
A few days later, I received an e-mail at KPRI from listener Tim Salmon.
Now I understand why Plant sings that “if you’re going to San Francisco” song during the 26 minute long version of “The Song Remains the Same.” I’d always thought it was a bizarre joke. Apparently, he’s a fan.
Tim, after reading the lyrics to the song, maybe the world would be better if we all were.