Welcome to our weekly blog spot where rushonrock‘s very own Self Made Man puts the world to rights in his own, inimitable style. Read on for his latest musings… Robert Plant is a hero of mine. He’s been one of my favourite people in the world for over 30 years.
Yet there have been times during those three decades that I’ve had cause to hate the man.
Indeed, even recently, I’ve cursed his stubbornness, his defiance and his refusal to embrace his own past.
The Led Zeppelin vocalist stands as a one-man obstacle to the prospect of his former band ever re-uniting
Until this weekend, I couldn’t understand why he was so against the idea even after the huge success of his O2 appearance alongside Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham’s son Jason in tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun, founder and president of Atlantic Records.
In the wake of that 2008 gig, both Page and Jones were keen to reform only for Plant to scupper their plans.
Now I could understand sexagenarian Plant’s reluctance to transform himself back into a golden-haired, bare-chested rock god screaming “Valhalla, I am coming,” as he kicked into The Immigrant Song.
But surely the passing of the years was not an insurmountable obstacle towards fulfilling the hopes, aspirations and dreams of millions of music fans throughout the world.
Plant, however, was not for turning, as if concurrence would represent a compromise of his own musical psyche.
Ever since Zeppelin folded in 1980, Plant has been by far the most active surviving member, at least in terms of discernible output and I’ve bought virtually all his solo stuff ever since.
I’ve enjoyed most of it even if some of his eighties material sounds very dated now.
His most recent releases represent some of his most outstanding post-Zeppelin albums, namely Dreamland, Mighty Rearranger, Raising Sand, his hugely successful collaboration with Alison Krauss and last month’s Band Of Joy.
But I still hankered for one last blow-out with his former Zeppelin band-mates and couldn’t understand his reluctance.
Then I watched Saturday night’s hour-long documentary on BBC Two and everything fell into place.
In one of the best programmes I’ve watched for many a year, Plant laid bare his music DNA, articulated his creative raison d’etre and provided absorbing and revealing answers to the questions we’ve all been asking.
Plant is one of music’s true eclectics, refusing to stand still, wallowing in change even for changes sake, obsessively improving his own aural education.
Hence his new-found obsession with the bluegrass music of Tennessee, so prominent on his last two albums, 15 years after briefly teaming up again with Page to revive Zeppelin with a Moroccan flavour to it.
There are those who saw Plant on his recent UK tour who were underwhelmed, citing his outrageous reworking of songs such as Gallows Pole, as evidence of a man who has not only moved away from his rock roots but betrayed them.
Others positively admired one of music’s most forward-thinking, adaptable and innovative individuals.
How ironic the frontman of a band derided as one-dimensional, one-trick ponies by the music intelligentsia, is proving to be the great chameleon of rock.