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11. “Tangerine”

Along with “The Rain Song,” “Tangerine” was used by Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous as an elegiac hymn evoking the sun-soaked glory days of rock’s bygone past. Even more than “Tiny Dancer,” it’s impossible to extricate my feelings about these songs from my feelings about the movie, which are complicated but mostly affectionate. Led Zeppelin is one of those bands that each new generation grows up with, no matter how far they happen to be from the band’s actual life span. That’s because Zeppelin embodies the youthful ideals of boundless energy and potent libido, obviously. But there’s also a sneaky melancholy embedded in this music, as if Zeppelin could also see the end even when they were in the midst of taking over the world. If this band were only a bunch of dumb teenaged noise, I would have probably moved on by now. But the melancholy speaks to me now in ways I would have never anticipated back when I was poring over mud shark stories in Hammer Of The Gods.

10. “Dazed And Confused” (How The West Was Won version)

A weird tic about my Zeppelin fandom is that I’ve actually become more tolerant of super long live versions of “Dazed And Confused” as I’ve grown older. I suppose this song should represent the self-indulgent side of the band that made punk “necessary” or whatever gets repeated in one million rock documentaries. But the jamband aspects of Zeppelin can’t be excised from the overall picture; if anything, their ability to veer between doom-y sludge and extraterrestrial squeaks for a half hour in front of 20,000 people and still bring down the house speaks to their unique status and power as an arena-rock band. What could be annoying about Zeppelin is also a crucial part of what made them transcendent. Also, including this specific version assuages my guilt about not putting “The Crunge” on this list, as “The Crunge” is actually tucked inside of this performance.

9. “No Quarter”

Take a bow, John Paul Jones. I was tempted to include a live version of this song as well, so that we could all luxuriate in an endless JPJ keyboard solo that sounds like Chick Corea on quaaludes. But the studio take from Houses Of The Holy more than does justice to what is unquestionably the greatest stoner song in the Zeppelin canon.

 

 

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