Spring has returned with a vengeance to Central Pennsylvania. For a time temperatures soared into the upper 80s, forcing me to start putting the screens in the windows. It’s cooled a bit since then to something more seasonal, but there’s no doubt that winter has left the building. Mere weeks ago I was shoveling huge piles of snow from the roof. Now the leaves are out and the snow seems little more than a distant memory.

The other day, though, dawned gray and misty, with a thick bank of fog hunkered down over the neighborhood. It seemed like the perfect day to listen to “Misty Mountain Hop” and the rest of Led Zeppelin IV.

Ah, yes, Zeppelin. Music that conjures up all sorts of impressions—strange rites and rituals, mysterious hierarchies, unconfirmed rumors.

Of course, I’m talking about high school.

I wasn’t a Zeppelin fan in high school. That was for the guys who drew marijuana leaves with ballpoint pens on the back of their denim vests. Yet Zeppelin is inescapable and gradually they pulled me into their orbit. The first album I bought was Led Zeppelin II. The second was probably Physical Graffiti. Side 3 is my favorite slab of Zeppelin awesomeness, starting with the epochal “In the Light” and ending with the equally great “Ten Years Gone.” I still like to play this side on hot summer afternoons when I have the beginning of a nice beer buzz.

I was inspired to dig out Led Zeppelin IV and load in on the iPod after I watched It Might Get Loud, the documentary in which Jimmy Page, Jack White of the White Stripes, and the Edge of U-2 sit down and talk about guitars. Page is obviously the eminence grise of this trio, with a shock of white hair that makes him look like, of all people, Beethoven. His big revelation: he played guitar in the session orchestra that recorded the theme from Goldfinger.

Page is also still fuming because some music paper once dismissed Zeppelin IV with a single-paragraph review. Well, it could have been worse. They could have named the album Shark Sandwich. (Speaking of Tap, the Edge says he didn’t laugh at Spinal Tap—he could only weep. It came too close to real life. In fact, I think there was a real-life episode when a member of U-2 got stuck inside a huge plastic olive during one of their amazing colossal show spectaculars. How more ridiculous can rock and roll get? The answer: None. None more ridiculous.)

The only time I saw Page perform live was when he was touring with the Firm, the band he formed with former Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers. Remember the Firm? No? Well, there’s a reason for that. I saw the Edge perform in the same venue, the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. It must have been in 1984 or ’85. That was a more memorable show. About halfway through Bono stepped to the front of the stage. “I want everyone to be very quiet,” he said, and I braced myself for some Bonorific musings. “I want everyone on the floor to move very calmly to the sides of the building.” Wha-? “We have a speaker platform that is coming loose.” And sure enough, I looked up and saw this big catwalk full of speakers tilting precariously just above the crowd massed below it. I have to give Bono credit—he got the crowd off the floor without causing a panic, the techies went to work and lashed the speakers back into place, and the show resumed without a hitch. Memorable, yes, but fortunately not as memorable as it could have been if plunging speakers had dispatched a big chunk of the crowd on a stairway to heaven—or a highway to hell.

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