Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mind Meld

I gave everything I had. I wasn't holding back…
~Jimmy Page

Mage Music 72
Mage Music 72 Mind Meld

The best music isn't always the most beautiful or melodic.  It isn't always the catchiest tune or the most easily hummed or whistled while you work. Sometimes it's so unlike anything that’s come before it that it’s hard to grasp. 

Sometimes the best music is raw and ugly, jagged and hard to bear.  Sometimes it is sloppy. It can be sweaty and dirty and offensive. And sometimes it’s so starkly beautiful you have a hard time breathing because of it.

Sometimes, without you ever being able to figure out why, the best music is so good it hurts to hear it and it makes you cry.

The best music is the music that the musician falls into and pulls meaning from, and that the listener falls into and receives from the Universe through the music. It doesn't matter who the musician is - what matters is what he can do.

The best music is all the above and more, because the best music has Magick in it. The Magick grabs the soul and shoves the Universe right in. Mage music is life itself and we recognize it. That’s what makes it the best.

It’s dangerous. It’s risky. But you still have to let it in. You still have to open up. You have to still give it everything you have. That is the price of Magick.

[Opinion alert!  What follows is personal opinion of the author!*]

Blending, merging, becoming something new

Ironically, Jimmy Page’s full immersion in Led Zeppelin, with the extraordinary results that came from his doing so, has been a major obstacle to his continuing forward musically. Robert Plant has moved on by taking a different musical path. But Jimmy Page, who I believe has unfinished business with the path he started out on, is held back by the public’s refusal to let go of Led Zeppelin.

How can new music stand on its own merits if it is always faulted for not being something else? How can Jimmy Page’s musical vision be appreciated if instead of hearing the message of his guitar people are listening for a singer’s voice that isn't there?

But it works both ways. Listening well to Mage music can be an act of Magick just as a Mage’s making the music is. It takes desire and will on the listener's part: desire to fully hear, will to not allow outside influences to deter the listener from the path. The ritual: The music itself, the point where it all comes together.

Coverdale - Page

I highly recommend that you decide to listen well to Coverdale/Page. This means listening with the desire to fully hear what is there in that music, not what is missing from it.  There is power in this music, music that - like almost everything Jimmy Page has done post-Led Zeppelin - has never received as much acclaim as is deserved.  Here are two mature and accomplished musicians, each with their own power, who attempted a two-way musical mind meld in order to create something new, and yet so many people have missed what was going on entirely.    

Look at the album cover: a merge sign.  It's the first hint.

Look at the titles.  There is a story being told.  

Then open yourself to the bigger message. This music is dangerous. It is full of brutality and anguish, hope and forgiveness – and it is an invitation. If there is not so much light in it, the dark is so dark as to make the slightest gleam a blinding laser. Follow the light where it leads.

Can I say for sure that Jimmy Page meant what I believe is going on? Of course not. But what I can say is this: Jimmy Page is not known for creating music by accident. Pay attention.

*The usual caveat applies: My opinion does not have to become your opinion. I merely offer these ideas as food for thought.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What May Not Be Ever Again

Everybody I know seems to know me well but they're never gonna know…
~ What Is And What Should Never Be, Led Zeppelin II (1969)

Mage Music 71 What May Never Be
Mage Music 71

The desire for another reunion of Led Zeppelin is a big topic of conversation for music lovers, and if it's not that, then the talk is about when Jimmy Page might come out with new music of his own. What follows is my personal opinion based on my own observations and conclusions and from the point of view of Magick. You may not agree, as is your right, and you are welcome to contribute your own opinions - but please keep them limited to the music and Magick aspects.  Also note that this is part one of a two-part post.  If you comment, I may steal your idea and use it to inspire thoughts for part two.  If I see farther it is by "standing on ye sholders of Giants"*.

The "just play with another band" theory

Jimmy Page has dropped in on many great bands over the past decades. He's worked with some pretty good musicians in his own groups, too, and people wonder why Mr. Page doesn't do an album with them. I say, how could he?

Sure, a musician of the caliber of Jimmy Page has got to have some highly talented people to work with. But as I see it, a major obstacle for Jimmy Page playing with other big-name musicians is that those guys are big-name musicians. They've got their own well established style, their own approach to music, their own feeling for what to say and how to say it musically. So does Jimmy Page.

So the real question would have to be who's going to yield the musical direction to the other?

Whose Magick is it anyway?

Jimmy Page basically started out his professional career as a session musician.  That means he was freelance, not with a regular band but hired to play individual studio recording sessions.  More importantly, this meant he had to match the needs of the music of the sessions and there was very little wiggle room to bring in his own musical vision.  Jimmy Page was very, very good at it, but playing other people's music wasn't where he wanted to do.  What he really wanted was to express what he had in him and that's why when the opportunity rose he set forth with that triumphant musical colossus, Led Zeppelin.

The beauty of Led Zeppelin was that Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham were basically at the same place at the same time in terms of music.  They were all very, very good - but the potential for greatness hadn't yet been expressed in any of them. Once they were together much of Led Zeppelin's music - not the lyrics, but the music - was driven by Jimmy Page, and the others in a sense yielded to Mr. Page's muse. Led Zeppelin wasn't all Jimmy Page, of course - the chemistry came from all of them, after all - but they were at the same place musically.  They created the Magick together, as indivisible components of one ritual.

Today that's not so.

Now things are very different. Robert Plant is following his own muse and has gone off to explore new musical territory for himself. I believe that for him to come back to a situation of being subsumed in a creative project over which he no longer had his own full musical expression, as he now does, would be very hard - and who could blame him?  This would be true for any other vocalists or guitarists who were of the equivalent level of experience and musical genius as Jimmy Page, and I think that this is a key point.

The best of the best musicians have all worked hard to get where they are, and why would they want their individuality, their unique musical vision and all they've achieved with it to be cast aside for something new, something in which they would not be the star?

And even if they would do it, could they do it?  Could they give up who they are to become something else?

Old dogs can learn new tricks

It is hard to do, but highly talented people can strike out in new directions. The problem with the music industry, though, is that audiences aren't always open to newness, and critics have not been bashful about expressing how they feel each time Jimmy Page has stepped off the beaten path.  From the very beginning with Led Zeppelin, to Lucifer Rising and carrying through to surprises such as Come With Me (with Puff Daddy), critics have been fast to complain although thank goodness, that hasn't stopped Mr. Page.

But finding musicians who could work with Jimmy Page to create new work today - that is a different story. This week's playlist was chosen partly because the title suited the subject here, but also because the versions provide examples of Jimmy Pages most exquisite techniques of fingering and timing. He squeezes some of the notes for so long that your heart wants to stop from the sweet torture of it.

This level of musicianship and creative artistry - this Magick that has been sustained for half a century - this is not something that anyone wants to see diluted by collaboration with lesser musicians, I think.  Only the best musicians.  But who are they that are that good yet willing to give themselves up for the Magick of the Master?

If there is to be any new music from Jimmy Page, I think he would have to find extraordinary new musicians who could joyfully bend to the Master's will while still being powerful in their own right. That's what Led Zeppelin was, after all. But is it even possible? We can dream, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks to Denise Smith for inspiring this post in one of her comments in a Jimmy Page group on Facebook.  This post has been part one of a two part thought, which I probably will continue next week.  

* Quote is attributed to Sir Isaac Newton but he wasn't the one who originated the thought.  He understood that he, too, "stood on ye sholders of Giants."

What Is And What Should Never Be  (♫ YouTube playlist ♫)

1969 (studio) Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions
1970 (live) Led Zeppelin
1994 (studio) Unledded
1998 (live) Page & Plant, Colorado
1999 (live) Live At The Greek

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Journey is a Trip

“I am a traveler of both time and space”
~ Kashmir, Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti 1975

Mage Music 70
Mage Music 70:  The Journey

Magick is such a trip! No, not the kind you do with chemical assistance but the kind of trip that is a journey. Magick is a process like a journey in that it's not just about arriving at a new place, but about the whole experience of getting there.

When it comes to Magick, every aspect of the journey from initial desire to end result matters.  Beaming down to a planet's surface is not a journey.  No matter what the movies would like you to believe, time - and what happens within time - is as important an ingredient of Magick as any other factor. The right amount (not too much or too little) and quality of use (as opposed to just spending it) are part of the art of manifesting reality.  

Time is, in fact, the most overlooked and therefore the most likely reason for an unsuccessful attempt of transmutation of energy. Magick isn't simply about waving a wand and instantly arriving at Point B, it is about the whole process of Point A through Point B and the infinity between the two points that is known as space and time.

It is self-evident that in any journey, you won't get where you want to go if you screw up too much.  This means you need to know where you want to go before you start, you need to know why you want to take your journey so you can know how to plan the trip. Once on the road, you need to pay attention to the signs along the way and take the correct route.  And there is no getting around that in any journey, the change from Point A to Point B is going to take the time it needs to take, no matter what.

Rushing things and taking shortcuts so that you can get to the destination is not the point of a great journey. If you only want to reach your destination, ask Scotty to meet you in the transporter room.  If, however, the going is as important as the getting there then what happens between the time you decide you want to go and when you get there is what it's all about.

If you want to be successful at Magick then know before you begin that the going is as important as the getting there. Magick is a process of creation - of changing personal reality on purpose, as opposed to letting the currents and whims of life do the changing. Full engagement of mind, body and soul in the entirety of a journey through the time and space of the process is what it takes for success in Magick.  High levels of desire, will and performance must be maintained throughout the planning and preparation as well as during the ritual itself. This means there are many possible opportunities to screw up along the way.

Many who attempt Magick will fail.  These would primarily be people who sabotage themselves by not being clear about what they really want or what that would look like in the new reality (not knowing their destination) and by failing to stick with the program all the way through to the end or to pay attention to the signs that would guide them along the way (messing up the journey).

It's not the fault of the Universe when Magick fails.  On the other hand, if a journey is never attempted, the goal will never be reached.

What are you waiting for?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My bad

"Got a monkey on my back, gonna change my ways tonight.  Nobody's fault but mine."
~Led Zeppelin, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Presence 1976

Mage Music 69

I could have scheduled a day off, I could have asked someone to be a guest blogger, but I didn't.  I could have figured out even a short post for today but I didn't - instead I made sauerkraut (yes I did).  And so all I've got to say is that there's no post this week and it's nobody's fault but mine.

Mage Music 69 My bad

If you really, really need to get your fix, you can check out a new blog I've got going, (Mostly) Daily Mage, which is sort of, more or less, tips for aspiring mages.  Or not.