Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 remasters: Goodbye Led Zeppelin

Last night I received the 2014 Remasters, Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy. I'm going to take my time reviewing the music but wanted to post a few thoughts right away.

I got the first three reissues as Deluxe CD sets rather than the Super Deluxe box sets, but sprung for Super Deluxe for these next two. Last night LZ IV and HOTH arrived. I have, of course, seen the photos of the contents (right) and knew what to expect, but not how I'd feel about the box sets.

First thoughts when I opened the individual cartons:

Why did I just get the Deluxe CDs before? I'm so sorry now I didn't sell my left kidney to get the Super Deluxes for the first three. I'll have to pick them up down the line because I just want them so badly now. The Super Deluxe box sets are perfect. They are obviously the product of intense thought and consideration, beautifully presented. You can tell that this physical aspect of the remasters were truly a labor of love on Jimmy Page's part.

They are the saddest things I've beheld in a long time.

I perceived in that moment that the remasters really are a swan song for Led Zeppelin. I understood that this truly was the end, the last significant work that was ever going to be released as Led Zeppelin, for ever and ever. The remasters are a going-away present from Jimmy Page to his former bandmates and to the world. Jimmy Page is moving on -- to new music we can hope, but whatever it is, he is leaving Led Zeppelin behind. 

All things in their time. I know that. 

Change means moving on. I know that.

But it's such a bittersweet knowledge.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Science meets Magick

Mage Music 89 Science Meets Magic jimmypagemusic.blogspot.com
And what is magic, pray tell?
It is the after-echo of the Divine Word which created the world... And as it retains certain characteristics of its genesis, magic... can be used to alter the created world,

~ Mercedes Lackey, House of the Four Winds

Mage Music 89

If you follow science news releases, you'll be seeing a trend lately. Science keeps catching up to Magick.

Of course science calls it "discoveries", but what is happening is that scientists are merely using their self-imposed disciplines of thought and proof to verify the principles that Mages have acted on since, well, since there were Mages. Meaning since there were humans.

The "discoveries" of Ellen Langer, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University, can be read about in a recent New York Times article, What If Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?. Dr. Langer studies what Wikipedia calls "the illusion of control, decision making, aging and mindfulness theory".

It's no illusion.

Magick may describe the source one way and Dr. Langer's studies another, but the differences are merely those of different trails that lead to the same mountain. Different journeys, same end. Dr. Langer calls it the Power of Possibility. We call it Magick. Same same.

Dr. Langer uses science to examine the very things we've been talking about here on Mage Music, using a different approach to explain how hidden decisions made by the subconscious and thoughts (and vocabulary) shape the world we create whether we realize it or not. Dr. Langer focuses on the powerful physical effects of the placebo in the real world and goes on to set up situations for others to change their own reality -- including the "magic" of reversing the effects of aging and disease.

How is this different than desire + will + ritual = Magick? There is no difference... it's a matter of choice.

You can pay mega-bucks to be treated by Dr. Langer or you can take your destiny in your own hands, but either way, you have the power of the possible. Either way or any way, you are the one who creates your reality.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. As the song goes, there's still time to change the road you're on.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page

Mage Music: Me & JPxJP  jimmypagemusic.blogspot.com
“I set out to create a photographic autobiography. I wanted the images to illustrate the journey of my musical career…”~Jimmy Page, Epilogue to his book

Like so many others, I would have loved to get my hands on an autographed, beautifully boxed copy of Jimmy Page’s photographic autobiography, but it was out of my price range. I was very happy, then, to be able to obtain an “ordinary” copy and I pre-ordered it right away, counting down the days till it would be published.

I wondered what my reaction would be when I got it. I knew that I would be very familiar with most of the photos, and that there would be few words of explanation. Would I be disappointed?

I wondered just how much Magick would be in such a book, anyway.


Amazon said my copy would be delivered yesterday afternoon,  I had some anxiety about how it would be delivered.  My house is not quite as easy to get to as most people's are. It makes a big difference what delivery service is used but there’s no telling which one Amazon will use.  It matters.

US Postal Service delivers my neighborhood’s mail to mailboxes about five miles from where I live. UPS delivers to a friend’s house four miles in a different direction because it’s easier getting there than to my house.  I hadn't, though, provided special delivery instructions when I pre-ordered (not that there was an option to, as I recall) so I couldn't count on it being UPS. And FedEx – well, suffice it to say one time I discovered my overnight express delivery package three days after the delivery date, in a plastic bag tied to the gate of a vacant property three miles from me.

I checked the mailboxes yesterday afternoon. Nothing. I went to my friend’s house. Nothing. And then, driving down the dirt road to my house, I met the FedEx guy driving out. He’d not only found my place but deposited the box on my porch.

If that wasn't Magick right there, it was at least a miracle.

Drum roll...

Before I did anything, I had to calm down my dogs.  They were not happy at all with a FedEx guy having the nerve to go on their porch and worse, leave something just on the other side of their door. And even then I didn't do anything.

I left the package sitting on the table for a while, actually. I brought in the groceries. Put stuff away. Looked at the box as I walked by. Savored it being there. Thought about how long I could make myself wait before I had to have it.

Once it was opened, it could never be unopened, you know. I had waited so long…

Finally I whipped out my pocket knife and cut the seal on the box. I unfolded the flaps and beheld The Book.

It was larger than I expected, even though I had seen enough photos to know how large it would be. It was pleasingly heavy. I wanted to rip it open and consume it then and there… but I left it alone, still in the cardboard delivery box, still in the plastic wrap. Um... this wasn't very rational, was it. It was just a book! Not signed, never touched by Jimmy Page. 

Didn't matter.

I felt like just rushing through opening it would be... wrong. It felt like a small ritual was called for. After all – if there was going to be Magick found in The Book I would have to welcome it, wouldn't I?

I decided to wait till I had more time, when I had a little wine to use in the unfolding celebration. I wanted to call to the love, not to the sex, to use a kind of crude metaphor. I wanted some foreplay. Slow undressing. Building of tension to add to the pleasure. 

Ritual is like that: Identifying the desire, using the will to focus on the satisfaction of the desire for long enough for the ritual to be completed. Powerful ritual is the result of powerful emotion. Nothing like pleasurably delayed gratification to build powerful emotion.

So I was talking my time. When I was quite ready, I carefully slit open the plastic and slipped it off The Book. I let my fingers drift across the cover, enjoying the texture. I picked it up, decided to weigh it, because why not? I wound up not finding out the weight (easily remedied via Google, so no sweat there) but that’s another story involving me and my scale that I'd just as soon not go into.

A dark room. A glass of wine. Jennings Farm Blues (2014 remaster) on repeat.

When I opened The Book, my first reaction was a brief and unreasonable flash of disappointment. There was no special message to me to be found. No autograph, no stamped date, not even a smudged fingerprint. But of course there wouldn't be. I didn’t pay a couple thousand for my copy of The Book, did I? Irrational, but there it is.

Then I opened The Book for real.

And first: Zoso.

And then: Jimmy Page, by Jimmy Page.

And THEN a gulp of wine, and I started to read every word and examine every photo. But no, I was going to go through too much wine if I did that, and I'd take all night -- so instead I just turned page after page after page to get an overall impression. (Doesn't that seem strange, talking about pages about a man named Page?)

Yes, I’d seen almost all the photos before. I didn't care. I was looking for the meta story, the message Jimmy Page was conveying via the photos he personally chose. I already knew his musical history, what I didn't know was his take on it.

Because it wasn't about the life of Jimmy Page. He said that, and I knew that. It was about the music as channeled through the man. I knew about the ritual – that was the music itself, over the years -- and it is something to listen to, not to look at. But then, The Book is not a common autobiography, where this happened and that happened and then the next thing happened. The Book is a grimoire (a recipe book of sorts, with Magickal symbols as ingredients and directions for combining them). The Book offers carefully selected photos that disclose the history of Jimmy Page’s musical desire and will applied over time.

Three glasses later...

I read the epilogue, glanced at the publisher’s note, decided to pass on studying the photography credits till another day, and carefully closed The Book.

Nothing of Jimmy Page’s personal life. Not a hint of his family, the crazy times, the challenges, the temptations, the losses and the gains. Nothing of the personal human being except the occasional small, dry bit of humor, easily overlooked.  It could easily be mistaken for just a book of photos. But as a grimoire... 

As with his music, Jimmy Page included everything necessary and nothing extra to say what he wanted to say. The photos we've all seen so many times that are not there are as significantly in their omission as the ones that are included. The Book provide all the information we need to understand the message Jimmy Page wished to convey. Everything – everything – is a part of the whole that has meaning. It always is.

Magick: What you do with the energy of the Universe to change reality.

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page.  The music is still the message.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Post: Frank Smith on John Bonham

Some musings on John "Bonzo" Bonham from my pal, Frank Smith

Had John Bonham still been with us today, it goes without saying that he would be an elder statesman of rock in the same way that Jimmy, Robert and John Paul Jones are recognized to be today.

I imagine he would be retired from the music business and would be a sober and loving proud father and grandfather. He wouldn't have been flashy and capitalizing on his fame but would appreciate the genuine recognition for all that he'd accomplished.

I like to think he would be on his farm with Pat and family and perhaps, occasionally, sit in with bands to smash the skins for the fun of it.

Bonzo would also be taking an active interest in Jason's drumming, shepherding him along in drumming technique and in life.

Perhaps, in a perfect scenario, he would have done an experimental solo percussion-only album or two with Jimmy producing.

I also picture him sitting in with bands like Tool and other local bands that he respected.

Its nice to think that Bonzo would also would have sat in with aspiring drummers and given clinics at drum industry conventions.

If he were still with us today, he would cruise around town on his motorcycles and cars from his collection-occasionally showing off his latest acquisitions; a black Citroen GT and a Bugatti Veyron.

For one reason or another, Led Zeppelin would have disbanded in the mid-80's after the music business and fans no longer supported the world in which Zep existed.

Jimmy and company wouldn't want to have cheapened all they had built in the previous years and they would have quietly put the band to rest once it became obvious to all of them that they had outgrown their time.

The MTV generation would have put the band on a shelf while they danced to Michael Jackson. John Bonham in particular wouldn't have wanted to continue to seem to be a caricature of his old self and would have voted to disband Led Zeppelin.

Perhaps there would have been the occasional get-together when the time and situation felt right.

Live Aid and the Atlantic 40th show certainly would have been much better with John there behind the kit, of course.

So, it all came full circle in December 2007 when his son sat in for him. John would have been proud.

He was a man of his time.

I often wonder how he would have adapted and grown to fit into the twenty first century with plastic drums, drum machines, YouTube and auto tune. My gut tells me he would have adapted just fine while staying true to his organic drumming technique.

He is missed by legions of fans, friends and family each day.