32. Song Nos. 187 and 188: “All My Love,” Led Zeppelin
In Through the Out Door, 1979; Latter Days, 2000
It’s about time Zep showed up to the party, and I love that it’s via one of my all-time favorite songs.
So I discovered Led Zeppelin by way of NewsRadio‘s run of episodes named for their albums, and the intersection of two deep, lasting loves always amplifies them both. Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin III are my favorite albums but the band’s entire oeuvre has been a part of my life for so long that so much of it just blends together in one nebulous feeling of loving something for the sum of its parts.
I’ve already written about the nerve-wracking decision that was figuring out what CDs to bring to ward off the toxic waves of another interminable family vacation stuffed into an RV with the people I least wanted to be in such close and constant proximity for the two longest weeks ever. By a law of large numbers even I can grasp, high-output bands like Zep usually had an album or two make their way into whatever duffel bag of protective, reality-eclipsing talismans I was taking along this time, forever imbuing them all with a sense of summer and freedom that’s rare but consistent. It helps that classic rock is inherently the soundtrack to summertime for me, too.
Zeppelin is driving back from my summer-vacation job on one of those summer nights that never drop lower than the high 70s. It’s sitting on the balcony of my first apartment and smoking on the first gorgeous night that feels and smells like spring. It’s a whole lotta albums that are old friends. And it’s a lot of songs that I love for no other reason than a lyric or a few bars of music just grabbed me like no others have.
One of the things I love best about this band, though, is their lyrical range: You have to respect how these guys oozed shamelessly overt sexuality with Robert Plant demonstrably waggling his tight-ass pants around stage while belting out lines like “Squeeze me baby / ’til the juice runs down my leg” with just as much conviction as narrating what happened when Gollum crept out from the darkest depths of Mordor.
Because even sex gods with a penchant for Tolkien can whip up a poignant declaration of love in all its forms. Something like “Thank You” will always feel like a gossamer moment in time; “All My Love” always felt more lived-in. Where “Thank You” is a wedding song, “All My Love” is anthemic, enduring love that blows right past the finality of death.
And with “All My Love” being on Zeppelin’s final studio album, the writer in me can’t help but find it fitting that a song about living with such crushing loss was one of the irrefutable highlights from the last album the band recorded together.