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.