Sunday, July 20, 2008

Plant, Krauss make front-page news in Nashville

So glad to see Jae S. Lee's photo of Robert Plant smiling onstage at the Sommet Center on the front page of The Tennessean this morning.

Beverly Keel was the reporter who two years ago broke the news that Plant and Alison Krauss were in Nashville collaborating on an album produced by T Bone Burnett. She even predicted a Grammy award without hearing one note!

It's Keel who now brings them to the front page of this Sunday edition with a story reviewing the critical acclaim and Grammy award success these musicians have now earned together. The piece, available here, delves deep into Plant's background for a reading audience already quite familiar with Krauss from her years fronting Union Station.

That group isn't mentioned in the article, but Keel writes extensively about the current state of affairs with regard to a potential Led Zeppelin reunion, even posing the question to both singers as whether or not Krauss ought to be regarded as "the new Yoko Ono," as was suggested in print by The Guardian newspaper back in England.

Krauss was level-headed in her response: "Oh, whatever. I don't think about it. I didn't cause anybody to do anything." Plant also fielded the question: "What a cheap shot. These guys, they should dare to do better than that."

The story focuses almost entirely on Plant's personality, his attitude and his ever-changing musical influences. Both he and Krauss comment at length on these topics, and the article concludes with Plant quoting a song called "Rejoice for the Song Has No Ending." He says, "That is basically what it is: The song has no ending if you can turn the song and keep it real and beautiful."

Plant says he has several personas -- at least "six or seven" of them -- which resulted in the diversity of his singing styles and his lyrics even in the Led Zeppelin days. He cites the words in "The Rain Song" and then says, "There were so many different guys in that group singing and writing. That was why the group was so good. Everybody could go into different characters -- the raucous one, the sort of braggadocio, the kind of back-door man."

But reliving the Led Zeppelin days? He answers this a few different ways in the article.

First: "I appreciate what people feel, and in a way they might be justified ..."

With this comment, Plant acknowledges an argument often made that he wouldn't be as successful as he is today without having been in Led Zeppelin, whose other members seem ready to reunite. But is the argument really that because they can, they should? Does Plant owe it to the fans, or to Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham?

Plant continues: "... but how does one go about giving everybody everywhere what they want? Because everybody wants a different angle of it all. So I think what I'm doing now is the best way for people to know who I am. I think that the six or seven other Robert Plants are going to have to wait."

He is also quoted as saying: "But if you're thinking about whether there will be another Indiana Jones? Well, gee, there is. Could Led Zeppelin play together? Of course they could, but why? And for what? That is the question."

Wow. That's exactly the way John Paul Jones saw it when I interviewed him in December 2001. He sees it differently now.

Plant says, "So my ideal is that I go with my heart."

He is the feather in the wind, changing directions constantly.

Krauss likens him to a snake winding around on an unpredictable path: "He's going to go around this curve over here, and maybe he got a CD in Seattle and that made him turn this other way. Or maybe he shook somebody's hand in Istanbul and that's why he's turned to the right now."

Krauss then sums it up in one sentence: "He's constantly on the move to find inspiration."

So when I say to those hoping for a Led Zeppelin reunion, "Just wait and see," I guess I ought to clarify the position and add on, "Just hope Robert Plant can be inspired enough to participate."


  1. Also saw the show at the Sommet, my first this tour, and will be in St. Louis in September. Had to laugh when the 60-ish lady next to me said she didn't know who Robert Plant was. Great, great show though the acoustics from my seat (stage right, fifteen rows up on the side) were really nasty. Prominent echo bouncing off the rear of the arena. The Sommet is too large a venue for this kind of music. Sure wish they would have played multiple shows at the Ryman. Randy

  2. Randy, don't forget that Mike Seeger (who plays autoharp on the last song on Raising Sand and may have also recorded some other things that apparently weren't used) doesn't know who Robert Plant is either. ;-)


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