“Well it’s been ten years or maybe more, since I first set eyes on you”
When life gives you lemons….listen to The Lemon Song. Or better still, The Lemon Song and all those songs around it on Led Zeppelin II.
I’ve had one of those shit weeks. We’ve all been there. A really, really shit week. So shit, that had I raced in front of him and pipped Renton to the cubicle of Trainspotting’s famous Scottish toilet, dived in face first and swam down there for a week without respite, I would have faced less shit than has come my way this week. The shit in that toilet would have seemed like a mere ghost-fart in comparison. Maybe.
When you have weeks like that, it’s easy to break. To collapse, combust, or simply dissolve. I should know, I’ve done it enough times. But the shitness of this week wasn’t all about me, so I needed some way to stop myself from folding and throwing in the towel. Contrary to the famous Dale Carnegie mantra, in these situations I don’t necessarily believe you need to make the best of what you’ve been given and make lemonade. You need to remind yourself of all the good things in life. You need to re-discover your heart and your soul. So when life gives you lemons – and believe me, it will – listen to rock & roll. Which really means listen to the blues. Because you’ll want to cry. And rock. Then laugh, and cry. And the thing that will get you through your shittest week is the rockin’. And laughing.
The Lemon Song on Led Zeppelin II is 6 glorious minutes of all of this: great, sad blues melded with some epic, upbeat rock & roll, and is all a bit of a laugh, in the best possible way. It even has some call-and-return back and forth between Page’s guitar and Plant’s vocal, something I can’t recall happening too much on their studio albums. And The Lemon comes 2 songs after Whole Lotta Love, and 2 songs before Heartbreaker. Heartbreaker, probably the most exciting rock-riff/lyric-accompaniment ever produced. Heartbreaker, blasting through my Marshall cans while limping through Paddington station on my way to off-load my shitty week to the only people who can really console/tolerate you when you have such a shit week, is the only song on earth that makes it sound cool to have had your heart broken. “The best years of my life gone by, here I am alone and……” head-banging ‘cos I’m listening to Heartbreaker.
After/if you get through Heartbreaker (I usually find I have to listen to it at least 3 times before I move on), sandwiching the optimism of Ramble On are the riffs of Living Loving Maid and Moby Dick. The artistry of these fellas has possibly never been matched. It’s only right that Led Zep II, one of the all-time great albums/blues/blues-rock/rock/rock & roll albums, finishes with Bring it On Home, where the melancholic tones of voice, bass and harmonica book-end more massive riffing from Page and the rest of the band at their most powerful, awesome best.
There’ll be more shitness to come. A whole heap of dark, inconsistent, stinking shit, and badness and hardship, for all of us, I’m sure. But through all of that, grab a friend. Grab three. I did. Tell those who need you that you’re there, even if they don’t want you or can’t face you. Go native, back to your roots, to what matters. Family, friends. Tears, laughter. Music, art. Blues, rock & roll. Write a riff, write a blog, sing a song, reel in, rock out, but whatever you do, make sure at the end of it you can laugh.
Because guess what, it’s Monday again. The week is over. And I’m still here, listening to The Lemon Song. I’m rockin’ and laughing. So I win.