Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Led Zeppelin, "Hey Hey What Can I Do"

Last weekend, I saw Robert Plant perform in Prospect Park. He's adapted well to Zeppelin A.D., roping "What is and What Should Never Be" into his range and performing NPR-ready blues and folk songs that he's earned by being 65 years old. He even ventured into trip-hop, with members of Massive Attack and Portishead in his band, and brought in an emotional depth that was rarely showcased during his Golden God years. But those of us who've fallen under Zeppelin's widely-cast spell can tell you that it was always there.

"Hey Hey What Can I Do," the b-side to "Immigrant Song," is the only non-album Zeppelin song released during their career. I can't imagine it playing on any of their albums--the vulnerable, pragmatic lyrics distinguish it from anything else that they've recorded, as do the zither and backing vocals. "Going to California" hadn't been released yet, so we had no way of knowing what an ace Jimmy Page was on the mandolin. It's almost funny to hear the four men of Led Zeppelin asking "What can I do" here--in 1970, Led Zeppelin sounded like they could do anything. But they couldn't get that girl back.

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