"The Led Zeppelin show depends heavily on volume, repetition and drums. It bears some resemblance to the trance music found in Morocco"
September 13, 2010 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I told Jimmy he was lucky too have that house with a monster in the front yard. What about the Loch Ness monster? Jimmy Page thinks it exists. I wondered if it could find enough to eat, and thought this unlikely–it’s not the improbability but the upkeep on monsters that worries me. Did Aleister Crowley have opinions on the subject? He apparently had not expressed himself. - William Burroughs attends a Led Zeppelin concert and has a chat with Jimmy Page (via Bruce Sterling)
posted by Artw (61 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
And will is another word for animate energy. Rock stars are juggling fissionable material that could blow up at any time…

I like rock music as much as the next dude but goddamn people who romanticize it are annoying.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2010



I like rock music as much as the next dude but goddamn people who romanticize it are annoying.


This is William Burroughs here. You have to understand what you're getting into.
It's an incoherent mishmash of mysticism, romanticism and god knows what else, but his writing has a certain rhythm and style that's remarkable.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:34 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:37 PM on September 13, 2010


We were channeled smoothly into our seats in the thirteenth row.

Happy birthday to me.
posted by swift at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2010


Reading William Burroughs makes me sad - I love the quality and timbre of his words, and he occasionally shows himself to be a masterful writer. Unfortunately, his subject material is almost always a let down and lacking in structure and cohesiveness.
posted by Dmenet at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had parsed the author as William Gibson (probably b/c of the Bruce Sterling mention
on the FPP) which caused an increasing disconnect as I read the article. I think I got halfway through before I felt the need to double-check. It seemed odd, but I figured it was some early writing buy the guy who folded voodoun into cyberspace.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:51 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had parsed the author as William Gibson

So I'm not the only one who does that!
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:57 PM on September 13, 2010


Metafilter: I had parsed the author as William Gibson
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:00 PM on September 13, 2010


Contains the statistically improbable phrase: "vast chicken swindle."
posted by rusty at 1:05 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I had parsed the author as William Gibson

An I had parsed that as Charles Gibson. What the hell is wrong with my brain?
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:11 PM on September 13, 2010


It's really not clear if Page bought Crowley's house because he was earnestly interested in riding whatever psychic vibes he thought Crowley made there, or because he was mostly stoned all the time and thought it would be cool. It's probably a bit of both, and the former might spring from the latter, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:11 PM on September 13, 2010


"Jimmy, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?"
posted by ennui.bz at 1:12 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Contains the statistically improbable phrase: "vast chicken swindle."

They also at one point seem to discuss whether Jimmy Page has a laser powerful enough to destroy the moon.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jimmy was interested, and I gave him a copy of a newspaper article on infra-sound.

Then I gave him a coupon I had for $1 off Gorton's Fish Sticks. Later I informed him that this winter was supposed to be unusually cold, and asked him if he still had the sweater I gave him for his birthday last year.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:31 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think I'll refer to them as "The Led Zeppelin Group" from now on.
posted by scody at 1:34 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


An I had parsed that as Charles Gibson. What the hell is wrong with my brain?

Charles Grodin has a chat with Jimmy Page, you say?
posted by BoatMeme at 1:36 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The great thing about reading a Burroughs passage is that it's ver-ry easy to reproduce his par-tic-ular tones and rhythms of speech mentally, as though the lecherous old devil were ri-ght there in the chair beside one . . . of course the whole exercise is made simple by his frequent returns to favorite subjects such as bullfighting, magic, and the ex-pansion of human con-scious-ness . . .
posted by chaff at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


When we first came over here… when the draft was really hot and everything…if you stayed in the country for more than six months, you were eligible for it, they’d drag you straight into the draft.

This actually almost happened to an uncle of mine.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on September 13, 2010


I'm as big a fan of Zeppelin and Burroughs as the next guy, provided the next guy is a pretty frigging big fan of both of those things, but I'm kind of astonished at just how vapid and idiotic this conversation is. In 1975, Led Zeppelin was the biggest band on earth, Burroughs was clean and back in New York, and had been everywhere and seen everything, and the best they could do together was orgone boxes and infrasound? A laser that can destroy the moon? From the perspective of someone born in 1976, you can almost see the 80's and 90's looming over their shoulders and laughing, while they speculate on how much upkeep the Loch Ness monster must require and prattle about dolphin language.
posted by rusty at 1:46 PM on September 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Laser notes! pew pew pew.
posted by not_on_display at 1:49 PM on September 13, 2010


Charles Grodin has a chat with Jimmy Page, you say?
With James Dean. Pay attention.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:46 PM on September 13, 2010


In 1975, Led Zeppelin was the biggest band on earth, Burroughs was clean and back in New York, and had been everywhere and seen everything, and the best they could do together was orgone boxes and infrasound? A laser that can destroy the moon?

In this the conversation had a lot in common with a virtually infinite number of conversations that took place during that glorious decade.
posted by blucevalo at 2:57 PM on September 13, 2010


A laser that can destroy the moon?

If you see the Laser Zeppelin show at the Daytona Planetarium, you'll believe that statement to be true.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:58 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gordon Lightfoot is interviewing John Cage? Awesome!
posted by not_on_display at 2:59 PM on September 13, 2010


Charles Grodin has a chat with Jimmy Page, you say?
With James Dean. Pay attention.


Did they talk about sausage?
posted by vibrotronica at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2010


I'm as big a fan of Zeppelin and Burroughs as the next guy, provided the next guy is a pretty frigging big fan of both of those things, but I'm kind of astonished at just how vapid and idiotic this conversation is. In 1975, Led Zeppelin was the biggest band on earth, Burroughs was clean and back in New York, and had been everywhere and seen everything, and the best they could do together was orgone boxes and infrasound? A laser that can destroy the moon? From the perspective of someone born in 1976, you can almost see the 80's and 90's looming over their shoulders and laughing, while they speculate on how much upkeep the Loch Ness monster must require and prattle about dolphin language.

You think he dared report the actual conversation en clair? Orgone = Oregon. Moon = Keith Moon. Even giving you that tidbit, I've fear I may have said too much. The agents of Control are everywhere.
posted by juv3nal at 3:22 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did they talk about sausage?

They talked about "Keith Moon", if you know what I mean.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:25 PM on September 13, 2010


Charles Grodin and Betty Page on a Zeppelin?
posted by zippy at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was quite a coup for Crawdaddy magazine to get Burroughs on Page. I liked Burroughs' observations of the energy exchange band to audience and back and analogy to original music being created by priests for ritual purpose. There is an entire book by Erik Davis on the subject of the fourth Led Zeppelin album, where he describes the album as a ritual incantation to prepare the band for transmigration into godhood. The three legged black dog. The Battle of Evermore with the first appearance of a female vocalist. The band members' sigils on the album artwork. The climactic "Stairway to Heaven" being the 4th song on the 4th album by a quartet. &c.

There was a rumor that the main tension in the band was not Page's heroin use, but his occult dabbling. Plant thought that Page was bringing a Satanic influence and this was to blame for Plant's car accident and Plant's son's death. Buying Crowley's house was ridiculous, but the man is (was) a Rock Star. Who in the heck with his freedom would want to live at Loch Ness? God, the weather is horrible.

I owned LZ4 on vinyl and wore the grooves right off of the sucker.
posted by bukvich at 4:25 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine has often had some paraphrase or quote by WSB about how a rock concert could be the most dangerous thing man has ever created, because of its ability to affect people en masse. I wonder if the seeds of that came from this article, or if there are other writings by WSB which actually contain that kind of thought.

Either way, I agree with that paraphrase. Rock concerts are incredibly powerful events.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on September 13, 2010


I liked Burroughs' observations of the energy exchange band to audience and back and analogy to original music being created by priests for ritual purpose.

That's just it -- there are these interesting threads, the power of rock concerts, their relationship to other mass spectacles and rituals, that jagged line between a cohesive group consciousness and a riot, and then, you know... “You can feel all the organs in your body rubbing together.” There's something just completely infuriating in it, to watch these two masters of their respective crafts sit down and basically just masturbate together. You wish that Pynchon were there to write it all down so that it meant something. And in the end, we can look back and know that yes, Zeppelin was a great old rock band, and Burroughs was a creative weirdo, but ultimately what did they do? Not much. They yakked about bullshit while their contemporaries were busy building the shit world we've now inherited. They opened their minds so far that their thinking faculties fell out, and by default gave away the world to a bunch of assholes.

I don't mean (at all!) to blame Jimmy Page and William Burroughs for all the ills of society. That would be ludicrous. This particular article just struck me as such a perfect little synecdoche and one-act drama of the whole failure of the self-absorbed 60s and 70s counterculture to accomplish anything worthwhile. Hunter Thompson's line kept echoing in my head, about being able to look West from Vegas and see the high water mark of the 60's, "where the wave finally broke and rolled back." I think you can see it here too.
posted by rusty at 5:25 PM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


We talked about trance music. He had heard the Brian Jones record from recordings made at Joujouka. We discussed the possibility of synthesizing rock music with some of the older forms of trance music that have been developed over centuries to produce powerful, sometimes hypnotic effects on the audience. Such a synthesis would enable the older forms to escape from the mould of folk lore and provide new techniques to rock groups.We discussed the possibility of synthesizing rock music with some of the older forms of trance music that have been developed over centuries to produce powerful, sometimes hypnotic effects on the audience. Such a synthesis would enable the older forms to escape from the mould of folk lore and provide new techniques to rock groups.

Yeah, totally irrelevant to snarkers.
posted by ovvl at 5:41 PM on September 13, 2010


I gave him a copy of a newspaper article on infra-sound. It seems that the most deadly range is around 7 Hertz, and when this is turned on even at a low volume, anyone within range is affected.

This is the drum-roll that you would hear at the guillotine.
posted by ovvl at 5:46 PM on September 13, 2010


"he describes the album as a ritual incantation to prepare the band for transmigration into godhood."

I'm sitting here scratching my head trying to figure out how "Misty Mountain Hop" figures into that scenario.
posted by MikeMc at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


So I'm packing my bags for the Misty Mountains
where the spirits go now,
over the hills where the spirits fly.

posted by swift at 6:21 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the article:

and as another rock star said to me, “YOU sit on your ass writing–I could be torn to pieces by my fans, like Orpheus.”

That's gotta be Mick Jagger.
posted by philip-random at 6:42 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the perspective of someone born in 1976, you can almost see the 80's and 90's looming over their shoulders and laughing, while they speculate on how much upkeep the Loch Ness monster must require and prattle about dolphin language.

And thus from such smug positions of superiority, we can comfortably dismiss the possibility of any relevance in the following excerpt. (Sure beats actually examining what's being suggested, maybe even questioning our firm belief in the "the way things are").

... whereas magic is neither white nor black, good nor bad–it is simply alive with what it is: the real thing, what people really feel and want and are. I pointed out that this “either/or” straitjacket had been imposed by Christianity when all magic became black magic; that scientists took over from the Church, and Western man has been stifled in a non-magical universe known as “the way things are.” Rock music can be seen as one attempt to break out of this dead soulless universe and reassert the universe of magic.
posted by philip-random at 6:56 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's really no good response to that other than a firm wanking motion.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Philip: I'm not dismissing any relevance there may actually be to that, or to anything else in the article (ok orgone boxes are just nonsense). I'm looking at the list of things these two men thought were interesting enough to discuss and print, and saying that from the view we have here, 35 years on, most of it was dead ends. So far at least. I mean, you can't be asserting that since 1975, the potential power of rock music to immanentize the power of magic has been a major driver of world events? Their concerns, whatever you may think of them, have nevertheless not borne fruit. They are, as of now, sterile musings.

My feeling about this is not in any way smug. More, just disappointed.
posted by rusty at 9:14 PM on September 13, 2010


And the bit that ovvl quotes was old hat when the Beatles were into it.
posted by rusty at 9:18 PM on September 13, 2010


I'm looking at the list of things these two men thought were interesting enough to discuss and print, and saying that from the view we have here, 35 years on, most of it was dead ends. So far at least. I mean, you can't be asserting that since 1975, the potential power of rock music to immanentize the power of magic has been a major driver of world events?

One of the biggest things that turned me off to psychic powers and the occult and so on was my high school's extensive library on the subject. For some reason my rural Indiana high school had a huge selection of books about the paranormal and psi and so on. One of the recurring themes of the books was that psychic powers were the next big thing and there was about to be a huge revolution where psychic powers and occultism would become the new technologies.

There I sat, in 1996, reading about how the 1980's were going to be the decade of psi...
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:25 PM on September 13, 2010


The great thing about reading a Burroughs passage is that it's ver-ry easy to reproduce his par-tic-ular tones and rhythms of speech mentally

I'm pretty sure William Burroughs was just John Wayne on a different kind of horse.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:35 PM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean, you can't be asserting that since 1975, the potential power of rock music to immanentize the power of magic has been a major driver of world events? Their concerns, whatever you may think of them, have nevertheless not borne fruit. They are, as of now, sterile musings.

Well, first of all, 1975 was a nadir. The great rock and roll hippie revolution of the 60s was well past its sell-by and fast disappearing down the cocaine-and-greed tubes of the big arena rawk shows, of which Led Zep were the reigning overlords. And even they were past their prime, Jimmy Page in particular on his way into a heroin void that would neutralize him for decades (if you believe everything you read).

That said, I've heard it argued (with a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek) that punk rock did in fact save western civilization (if not the world) with the sheer crazy whatever-you-wanna-call-it that erupted out of the UK only a year or two later; that PUNK was an unanticipated ju-ju which the powers of control and wargasm just never saw coming ...

Am I saying punk in particular, amplified young-person's music in general has been a major driver of world events? Not in so many words (unless you buy into the not unpopular notion that it was Elvis + Levis that brought down the Iron Curtain). But I am saying that punk/rawk/noise (whatever you want to call it) has given voice and/or focus to a raw, visceral, life energy which, in olden times, would probably have just been called magic.
posted by philip-random at 10:31 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


There I sat, in 1996, reading about how the 1980's were going to be the decade of psi...

When I see the Palm Readings $20.00 signs, I have this somewhat stong urge to go in and yell "If you're so damn psychic, why aren't you playing the stock market and living in a million dollar penthouse!?"

That said, there is something transcendent and hypnotic about When the Levee Breaks. It takes me places when I shut my eyes and let it wash over me. There's lots of metaphor and hyperbole in what Burroughs writes here, but that's Burroughs way of making a point, and had been for 30 years at least, by then. It's an unsurprising way for him to express himself yes, but he was tapping into some things that had an essential truth. Music is powerful.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:12 AM on September 14, 2010


Was Burroughs just playing up in a masterful way how utterly shit most music journalism is? If so, bravo, he got it just right.
posted by juiceCake at 5:17 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think Burroughs was ever an ironist, at all.
posted by rusty at 8:34 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm both amazed by this article and appalled by it. Burroughs starts out so promisingly when he's actually talking about the concert and the ritual magic energy power of it all, but it read to me like he just got more high as it went on and his musings got more and more nonsensical. And I started to feel sorry for Page, since much of this seems to be Burroughs rambling at him about one of his pet crackpot ideas and Page going, "Yeah, man, that's interesting."

The Beats were huge heroes of mine when I was a teenager. It's strange to look at this in my 30's and realize how much bullshit Burroughs was willing to believe. It's so unfortunate that losing one's capacity for critical thinking seems to be a prerequisite for membership in the 60's-70's mystic club.
posted by threeturtles at 8:47 AM on September 14, 2010


Pope Guilty - I think you'd like this...

Q: So you're saying rock has lost its subversive edge?
A: I'm saying it never had any subversive edge. It was always wintergreen Chiclets, we just enjoyed pretending otherwise.

posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on September 14, 2010


Oh, I feel so... indicted.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:04 AM on September 14, 2010


threeturtles, Burroughs was like that to The Beats, too, I think. See Kerouac's short section on the Orgone Accumulator in On The Road. He was The Crazy Uncle, even in the 50's.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:05 AM on September 14, 2010


For the record, I suspect Mr. Burroughs would have avowed no particular belief in anything, except perhaps the notion that there was no such thing as an accident. This allowed him to go deep after some pretty crazy stuff, and with gusto.
posted by philip-random at 5:07 PM on September 14, 2010


If you enjoyed this, you might also like: A Signpost to New Space, featuring "A Stoned Sunday Rap" with Jerry Garcia and Charles Reich.
posted by muckster at 10:35 PM on September 14, 2010


beware of whores who say they don't want money
posted by philip-random at 11:39 PM on September 14, 2010


For some reason my rural Indiana high school had a huge selection of books about the paranormal

Are you sure you weren't going to school above a hell-mouth, Pope Guilty?
posted by Philby at 5:01 AM on September 15, 2010


I thought it was common knowledge that most high schools were poised above hell-mouths.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:53 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


More to the point, that all high schools now must be constructed above hell-mouths. It's one of those new laws that got ponied in on the back of the health care bill. All part of Obama's nefarious plan.
posted by philip-random at 7:40 PM on September 15, 2010


Visions of Kerouac as a drug-addled Marlow and Burroughs as Kurtz:

feel great but Burroughs has gone insane e as, — he keeps saying he's going to erupt into some unspeakable atrocity such as waving his dingdong at an Embassy part & such or slaughtering an Arab boy to see what his beautiful insides look like

via @GreatDismal
posted by juv3nal at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2010


via @GreatDismal

OK, now you're just messing with me.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:47 PM on September 19, 2010


Are you sure you weren't going to school above a hell-mouth, Pope Guilty?

You know, I thought it was weird that the librarian spoke with an upper-class English accent.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 PM on September 19, 2010


Huh. Turns out that Burroughs was an early influence on Gibson.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:46 AM on September 20, 2010


heh... (like he done in Rome, yelling FART at a big palazzio party)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:13 AM on September 20, 2010


« Older How to Train Your Robot (to Lie)....  |  The Awl interviews Josh Simpso... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments