Led Zeppelin broke up five years before I was born, yet they’ve somehow managed to be the soundtrack of my life. Nearly every coming-of-age moment I’ve ever had I can associate with a Zeppelin song.
Graduating high school? “Ramble On” (And though our health we drank a thousand times / It’s time to ramble on) Graduating college? “The Ocean” (We’ve done four already but now we’re steady / And then they went…) First time I fell in love? “Traveling Riverside Blues” (She’s got a mortgage on my body, got a lien on my soul) First breakup? “Hey Hey What Can I Do” (I guess there’s just one thing left for me to do / Gonna pack my bags and move on my way) Losing my virginity? “Trampled Under Foot” (don’t ask.) The list goes on and on.
But what’s most important about Zeppelin is how this isn’t unique to me—it applies to seemingly every American male born in Generation X and on. Chuck Klosterman said it best in his book “Killing Yourself to Live”:
“There is a point in the male maturation process when the music of Led Zeppelin sounds like the perfect actualization of the perfectly cool you…You simply think, “Wow. I just realized something: This shit is perfect. In fact, this is vastly superior to all other forms of music on the entire planet, so this is all I will ever listen to, all the time.” This is why Led Zeppelin is the most beloved rock band of all time…They are the one thing all young men share, and we shall share it forever.”
How much do my friends and I love Led Zeppelin? Every summer we get together for “Zeppelin A-Z”—a party where we play every Zeppelin song in alphabetical order. Billed as a celebration of music and friendship, Zeppelin A-Z takes about nine hours to finish and 2017 will mark its 14th installment. The first year saw only six participants, but last year attracted over 50 guests ranging from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and any stranger who briefly mentioned how they liked Led Zeppelin in passing.
If you’ve never had the pleasure, here’s what you can expect out of any Zeppelin A-Z: copious amounts of domestic beer and red meat, along with a remarkably consistent reaction to any song that isn’t regularly played on the radio. For example:
(“Candy Store Rock” comes on)
I forgot all about this song! Dude! How did I forget about this song? It’s SO good! It’s probably my favorite song ever!
(“Poor Tom” comes on)
Can we be serious for a second? Like are you kidding me with this song? This is one of the best songs EVER! I forgot all about it!
(“South Bound Suarez” comes on)
Oh. My. God. This tune is the BEST! I can’t remember the last time I heard it! Easily my favorite Zep jam! An absolute CLASSIC!
If there’s a better example of Led Zeppelin’s ability bring people together than A-Z I’ve yet to find it. Along with Patriots’ Day, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, and the New England Patriots Annual Super Bowl Victory, Zeppelin A-Z is one of my favorite days of the year. Consider yourself invited.