Thursday, November 19, 2009

No love for Jimmy Page at the Oscars

A week ago, after the umpteenth post in a row on this site about nothing but Them Crooked Vultures, somebody commented that Lemon Squeezings had in effect become a news site for developments on that band.

Feeling sorry for that person who wasn't getting a steady Led Zeppelin fix over here at LedZeppelinNews.com, I started putting some more stuff up at OnThisDayInLedZeppelinHistory.com right away.

In the past week, there have been new posts about Jerry Wexler signing Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records in 1968 and turning operations over to Ahmet Ertegun, the band proceeding exactly one year later to begin recording music for a third album in a row, and John Paul Jones reflecting on the band's BBC sessions during an interactive online interview in 1997.

While I felt sorry for this one disenchanted reader of LedZeppelinNews.com, I felt even more sorry for Jimmy Page, the member of that band who put it together from day one, lingered in the studio to put onto tape the sounds in his head, painstakingly mastered the tapes again and again through the years to make sure they fit his vision, and sought time and time again to do something a little more for us unworthy fans.

Like last year, when he wanted to assemble a new band. We now know that it fell by the wayside.

Ever since his last bout of rehearsals and planning came and went without any fruit, Jimmy's been out of the limelight for a little while. Some of the reason is he hasn't done much to put himself in the limelight, but another part of it is because the film "It Might Get Loud" didn't make the big splash I thought it deserved.

I've seen three public showings of this film, twice on opening day in New York City and once in Washington, D.C., a little while after it opened there. Of those three showings, only the second, a noontime showing in Greenwich Village, was packed. Energetic people in the theater burst at the funny moments, and they waited patiently during the film's exaggerated lulls for the next thing to grab them by the arm and entertain. It was a thrill to see so many people so into this movie.

But for the third public showing I attended, I was the only person in the theater. Sure, I suppose downtown D.C. mid-day on a weekday is a thriving metropolis, but not the kind that has people flocking to the cinema at that time. Everybody was busy. I couldn't even coax a friend of mine, a closet U2 fan who works for one of the government agencies, to skip work for a couple of hours and watch his favorite guitarist and mine share the silver screen.

I don't think this film had the crossover appeal it was destined to have. Maybe the upcoming DVD/Blu-Ray releases, and the online release preceding that, will make it easier for people to know of it, enjoy it, talk about it, recommend it and really make something of a sleeper hit out of it. I think generations to come should be watching this film.

The sorrow I feel for Jimmy Page was enhanced today when I noticed some news outlets are reporting "It Might Get Loud" has been overlooked by the Academy Awards in nominating films to the documentary category. Director Davis Guggenheim's previous work, "An Inconvenient Truth," may have picked up an Oscar, but "It Might Get Loud" evidently won't share that fate, which is regrettable.

True, the Grammys overlooked Led Zeppelin in the '70s, and that didn't hurt anybody, so there's really nothing to sweat here. Yet this is a different day and age. Most of the Led Zeppelin news these days is from Them Crooked Vultures, whose members have signaled they're in for round two. Robert Plant earlier this year created waves, picking up five Grammys with Alison Krauss and then creating enough momentum to earn a second wave of sales.

Now, although a follow-up album by Plant and Krauss has stalled, and Plant's fit not to be on tour right now or have any particular album to peddle, his bluegrass turn of the past few years still manages to get acclaim from all directions:
That just has to be eating at Jimmy Page.

Now, can it be the right antidote to coax him into action again and generate some new music for people to hold up and appreciate?

Update, 4:45 p.m.: Ah! I did not see this until just now, but similar thoughts were posted three weeks ago by Matt Patterson, a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of "Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story." His remarks are also reflective of the sentiments I expressed here on Sept. 2, in my post "Do musicians ever really retire?"

6 comments:

  1. About Jimmy and anything new, have you checked Ross Halfin's newest diary?

    I have seen IMGL two times, the first time I went with a friend who is generally not a lover for rock music, and she fell asleep.(can you imagine that? Sleep with the wailing guitars!) The second time I went alone. There were not many people both times, but actually I enjoyed the "loneliness" and I absolutely love this film. But I can see why it doesn't appeal to huge mass.

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  2. The pictures of Jimmy Page in Ross Halfin's Nov. 17 diary entry show him leaning against a jukebox. These are intriguing, given Ross's promise that the photos are destined for "something new out this January."

    There's a chance this is the culmination of one of the projects to which Jimmy alluded in a Billboard magazine article this August, but I would say the timing is off for this to be the "big project" Page talked about in June.

    My personal viewing count of "It Might Get Loud" is actually four, including the three aforementioned public showings and one exclusive showing for the press one early morning in Miami Beach. I think it will appeal to the masses, given some real exposure.

    Hopefully, iTunes will market it. That Dec. 8 online release date is going to roll around soon, and iTunes will have two weeks to sell it before the DVD and Blu-Ray hit stores.

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  3. Well, who knows, he also talked about going back in the studio in December and working into the New Year, so it's still possible that they can hurry "something" out.

    Or the pics can be just for an article in a magazine about Jimmy and his huge vinyl collection.

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  4. What makes me think the January release won't be Jimmy's "big project" are his own words from this August: "If you've got ambitious projects, they take time to put together if you're going to do them properly."

    The Jimmy Page of the 21st century is not the same Jimmy Page who rushed the first two Led Zeppelin albums and another, Presence, out the door in short order. He's now a mellow, meticulous guy who takes his time.

    Four months may have been enough time for him to assemble The Firm in 1984, but I doubt he's suddenly turning around and completing this "big project" of his in the last third of this year.

    But he could surprise us!

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  5. Ross Halfin was already talking about Jimmy's "projects" back in March, if I remember correctly. And I think Jimmy had "saved" some stuff through the years, which he has always mentioned in the last a few years, he also said that the "Embryo"s in IMGL were pieces from that.

    Anyway, we can probably only wait til January to get the answer. New music would be the best, if not, anything else is a nice bonus.

    I don't NEED anything from Jimmy Page, he has given us enough, but I certainly HOPE for more.

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  6. True, Ross wrote on March 1, "Spent ... most of last week working on a project with Jimmy Page (of which I'm saying nothing)."

    And you're right, Jimmy has been kicking around an album project for longer than five years now. Reports of a Santana-style album project of his first started surfacing in August 2004. You'd think that over the course of time, that music would have taken shape.

    Maybe you're right; maybe not all of his music evolves at the sluggish pace of "Swan Song"/"Bird on the Wing"/"Midnight Moonlight" and "Domino"/"Embryo No. 2."

    Maybe this January is Jimmy's time to shine once again!

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