“Custard Pie” by Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin

146. Song Nos. 2,255 and 2,256: “Custard Pie”
Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes: Live at The Greek, 2000; Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti, 1975

Nothing says springtime like Physical Graffiti, and there is no better way to welcome the warmer (and better) half of the year than with that album, a house full of thrown-open windows and a drink.

Physical Graffiti is hands-down my favorite Zeppelin album (though III is awfully close) and it’s also my first Zeppelin album, the first CD I ever bought and the first LP I ever owned. Just by being around for so long and beating everything else to the formative punch, it’s a deeply experiential album that was along for so much for so long. It sounds like walking to the bus stop and driving to another summer job with the windows down and volume up. It sounds like rainy days and fireside nights. It sounds like a summer-vacation escape hatch and smoking on the balcony of my first apartment with a book in the other hand, that album in my ears and a springtime evening all around me. It is as lived-in and as lovingly personalized as any album gets.

Even the Jimmy Page/Black Crowes crossover version is fun as hell (I mean, considering the players, how could it be anything else?). And speaking of things that sounds like safely retreating from another interminable family vacation, Live at The Greek‘s prevailing association for me is my teenage self playing those double discs over and over while on Clearwater Beach, at night while walking through some scenic Central Florida campground to gawk at the herds of palm trees I love, and on the forever-taking drive back north as the southern scenery gave way to the comparably greyer and less springy Midatlantic.

The second half of Physical Graffiti is what really makes that album for me, and it is the most natural setting for these songs for me. I am so used to “Custard Pie” introducing one of the most quintessentially springtime albums that it’s a little discombobulating to hear it separated from the context most familiarly impressed upon me, but it’s also delightful as hell to find out that it’s just as bright and warm and full of radiant promise as the warm-weather days it both embodies and heralds. “Custard Pie” has ushered in an album full of my favorites for literal decades, so it’s only fair that the sheer power of repetition has allowed it to keep some of that vernal beauty for itself to both bask in and benefit from.

3 thoughts on ““Custard Pie” by Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin

  1. Physical Graffiti is my favourite LZ album by a mile: bold and bulbous and beautiful.This, and the Stones’ Exile on Main Street and Iggy’s Raw Power being pretty much the 1970s rock albums I can always return to when the mood arises. It’s definitely a mood album and I always try to listen from start to finish. I like that you see/hear/feel it as a Spring album! I shall listen next time with a fresh outlook.

    The only other Led Zeppelin album I can abide is Houses of The Holy – which is definitely a Summer album!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes to all of that! I’ve got a lifelong soft spot for classic rock, and you have named some veritable giants there, friend. And I agree that listening to Physical Graffiti from start to finish is the best way to experience their best album. It really does run the gamut of what Zep can do when they put it all out there at once.

      I kind of oversimplified my seasonal associations here to keep this post on track. Classic rock in general sounds like warm weather to me! I play it a lot more in the spring and summer; what makes Physical Graffiti different is that it’s my intro-to-the-better-seasons album, probably because I tend to start playing it more to welcome the onset of balmy evenings. I guess it sounds more like the promise of warmer days to come than anything else, though the second half sounds best with crickets and tree frogs because it is SUCH a Driving During Summer Nights collection of songs.

      I unearthed my record player when I finally gave in and claimed a work-from-home-spot that wasn’t the temporary solution of sitting at the living room coffee table. Houses of the Holy was my most recent vinyl purchase and I have been playing that record far more than I usually do–I couldn’t agree more that it is a summer album, for sure. (And I’m absolutely listening to it now, so thanks lots for that!)

      Liked by 1 person

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