The movie “It Might Get Loud” features Jimmy Page performing five songs alone.
Two are “Embryo No. 1” and “Embryo No. 2,” which are pieces of new music perhaps destined for a “big project” Page says he has “had in mind for some time.”
The three others are “The Battle of Evermore,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “Ramble On.”
The way he played “Ramble On” onscreen prompted Bob Lefsetz to revive his writing in “The Lefsetz Letter” for the first time in 10 days. He viewed the film at its L.A. premiere on Friday, a few seats from Page himself.
Just as I was getting comfortable in my seat, just as I’d settled into WATCHING this movie, Jimmy strapped on a sunburst Les Paul and started to play…
A tingle just shot through my body thinking about it.
You know how Jimmy holds his guitar so low, down by his pubic area, like it’s a sexual being, not a musical instrument? He’s not just playing, he’s romancing the entire instrument, the neck is bobbing and weaving, the body of the Gibson is throbbing, and with his nimble fingers, Jimmy Page is playing RAMBLE ON!
The track has not been overdubbed after the fact, the original master has not been stripped in, this is the guy who wrote and played it standing there and WHIPPING IT OFF! And in classic “Led Zeppelin II” fashion, he’s not playing to the last row, there’s that subtlety that separated the band from its imitators, they could be quiet as well as heavy.
And speaking of quiet, when Jimmy sat on a stool in the garden of Headley Grange and played “The Battle Of Evermore”, I got goosebumps.
But “Ramble On” was the peak. Better than Jimmy playing the riff from “Whole Lotta Love” on the soundstage. There was a lyricism, a whole story was unfolding in his playing.
I played “Led Zeppelin II” for a week straight. After buying it the day of release. I thought I never needed to hear it again. But years later, when the focus was no longer on it, it turned out to be one of those mementos of youth that was just as vital today as it was back then. Somehow, music can do that. People age, but not tunes. Not the best ones.
My leg is bouncing, my body is twisting. I’m surveying the theatre, I see no concomitant movement. How can this BE? Has our nation been castrated to such a point that viewers need to take their cues from television? Can they only be infected, jump up and down when they’re in front of the stage at an overpriced gig? This performance of “Ramble On” was the essence of the experience. It was the zenith of rock and roll. Jimmy said how the critics didn’t get it. And he was right. But the public did. Led Zeppelin was instantly successful.
Lefsetz also mentions another scene in the movie with Page:
Like I said, they shot a bunch of footage at Headley Grange, where the fourth album was cut. Jimmy hasn’t been there in a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. He’s overwhelmed at first. Then he starts telling stories. About the mobile truck outside (and a picture is flashed…that truck was HUGE!) They ran cables up the stairways, out the windows, it was key to be in an environment unsullied by everyday life.
And John Bonham ordered a new set of drums. And his tech set up this kit in the entry hall, with its multiple story ceiling, so Bonzo could check it out. And once Bonham started to play, they decided to record RIGHT THERE!
Then Jimmy claps his hands. As he’s standing in this entry hall. And you hear that unmistakable echo, the sound of late night seventies parties, of lying on your bedroom floor in the dark, listening to “When The Levee Breaks”.
It was ASTOUNDING! It sounded JUST LIKE THE RECORD!
Lefsetz also writes about his meeting Page at the afterparty:
We ended up having a conversation about being best man at failed weddings. Had to give Jimmy credit, he knew how to play this game, he knew how to be warm and personable. And how do you not love a man who lets his hair go gray, who owns his age?
From there, he closes with his thoughts on Jimmy Page’s long and storied life, plus the place Led Zeppelin has earned in rock history and our culture:
It’s been a long strange trip. From discovering a left behind guitar in a new abode to playing sessions to being in the biggest band of its era, the second biggest band of all time.
Yes, the Beatles were bigger. But they were different. They were the darlings, the sunny boys who could be endorsed by the media, cheeky and lovable. Zeppelin was different. There was inherent darkness. You hear it in the music. They’re looking for satisfaction, but still living along the way. And life is hard. It’s dark and creepy with a bit of exuberance sprinkled in. Like Led Zeppelin’s music. Zep’s music wasn’t one note, it was like life, it covered the spectrum of emotions. And for this reason, we cannot forget it.
When you see Jimmy Page play these tunes up close and personal in this movie you’ll be flabbergasted. It’s not like a concert, where you can hear but not really see. When you see Jimmy’s fleet fingers fly across the fretboard, when you see his right hand pick out the notes, you experience the true spirit of rock and roll, in all its power and glory. These moments are not only worth the price of admission, but they’re also what we live for!