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How was I to know when I slipped the headphones on that a screaming onslaught of machine gun guitar licks would fly off the strings of Jimmy Page’s Gibson doubleneck, lodge in the depths of my cerebral cortex and change my life forever?
Could it really have been mere seconds earlier that Josh Jarvis had handed me his Walkman? Since then my nervous system had accelerated from standstill into overdrive and now was on the verge of short-circuiting, not least because of the thirty-seven megaton force of John Bonham's murderous kick and snare assault. Every bass drum blow was a jolt of molten pleasure injected directly into my vitals. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. What was happening to me?
As if by magic, strange symbols began to inscribe themselves on the insides of my eyelids: ancient runes I'd never seen before yet understood perfectly. These runes told tales: the tales of old. In an instant centuries of forbidden knowledge became known to me. I became privy to the exploits of Viking armies, the secrets of mystical druids and the disappearance of the Other One.
A spine-tingling howl abruptly awakened me from my reverie. Several sets of glowing red eyes became visible through the eerie gloom. A pack of menacing hellhounds was approaching to devour me!
Instinctively, I began to run. The uncanny hounds tore after me. These "dogs of doom" would not be satisfied, I instinctively realized, until they drank of my blood and tasted of my flesh. In desperation I headed for a path leading into a dense wood. This proved to be a mistake. As each moment passed I found myself stumbling through ever more treacherous and craggy terrain. I caught a glimpse of a stooped figure on a distant hilltop bearing a load of straw on his back. Only death will ease your burden, old man, I thought sadly.
Still I ran on, the demonic dogs in frenzied pursuit. We flew across a clearing and through an ornate iron gate--and all at once I realized we were no longer on terrestrial soil but had entered the burning, pitted fields of the underworld! Pagey's thunderous riffs spurred me on, each wailing squall evoking the voices of ten thousand doomed souls crying out for mercy. These lonely spectres seemed to materialize before my eyes and reach out towards me as I raced by. What did they want? How had they gotten there?
I hardly had time to stop and ask, however--for I could sense the hounds' slavering fangs gnashing inches from my heels. Only the sheer driving power of Bonzo's ear-shattering cymbal attack pushed me forward and kept me from losing heart. “Best rock drummer of all time,” I gasped, nearly in tears. "Better than Moon...better than Copeland...better than Peart."
If I thought the sonic blitz was over, though, I had another thing coming. Out of nowhere came Robert Plant’s piercing, unearthly shriek, catching me unawares. “Ba-aby!" he wailed. "Babee babeee babee babee! I’m gonna leave you! I ain’t jokin’ woman--I got to ramble!” The fair haired rocker's banshee wail bored into my skull like a neurosurgeon’s drill, threatening to turn my nervous system into a gelatinous stew. Plant was right: the soul of a woman had been created below.
On and on we ran until my lungs felt ready to split open. It was no use. The ravenous dogs were closing in; it was only a matter of time now. I crumpled to the ground in despair and braced myself for my gruesome end. But all at once I felt myself swept up into the air to safety! For John Paul Jones' triumphant, horn-like keyboard solo in "All My Love" (track 2, Side B from In Through the Out Door) had begun...and the majestic tapestry of sound he'd woven had literally buoyed me into the shimmering ether! I watched in awe as the landscape became distant and the hellhounds mere specks on the horizon. Could it really be possible, I asked myself with astonishment, that Jonesy and Pagey once toiled as mere session men? As we sped through the just-breaking Icelandic dawn I found myself laughing with joyful disbelief and shouting aloud to the four winds. “Zeppelin! Fuckin’ Zeppelin!”
Date Written: July 22, 2004Comments:
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 4.5
07/27/2004 qualcomm: i enjoy the music of richard halley.
07/27/2004 scoop: I didn't know Richard Halley had the time to rock, what with the network.
07/27/2004 qualcomm: by the way, i've been to the dark wood the narrator speaks of, only i didn't see any old man stooped under a load of straw. i saw a lion, he was standing alone, with a tadpole in a jar.
07/27/2004 scoop: Rock on Richard Halley!
07/27/2004 qualcomm (4): You forgot to change Stratocaster to Gibson doubleneck in the title. Pagey rarely used Stratocasters. Asshole.
07/27/2004 Ewan Snow: I haven't been able to get all the way through this one yet. Should I vote anyway, or must one read a short before one votes?
07/27/2004 qualcomm: no, dude, just vote.
07/27/2004 qualcomm: josh jarvis' mix sounds terrible.
07/27/2004 Ewan Snow (4): Just finished. Yeah, Josh is a total dick hole. But jeez, I don't know how to vote on this one. On one hand, this was packed with cherry details, but on the other, it was long and sometimes a little boring. I'm tempted toward three, but feel this short deserves more. Okay, okay, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you a four, author, but you have to thank me and feel like you owe me one. Deal?
07/27/2004 qualcomm: deal!
07/27/2004 John SIocum Imposter: Certain Bordeaux varietals (especially claret and its near cousins) contain, in their fermented tinctures, indications of slide rules and cats.
07/27/2004 Ewan Snow: Huh, what? You're not the author, OSS. Why must you fib? Why?
07/27/2004 TheBuyer (5): Anything less than five may bring forth the hammer of the gods to smash my new favorite 24 inch sweet-tone ride cymbal that so completely rocks I shudder in my sleep.
07/27/2004 anonymous: john paul jones is amazing
07/27/2004 anonymous: I had a snadwich for lunch.
07/27/2004 anonymous: OMG me too!
07/27/2004 TheBuyer: Are you trying to bait me you motherfucker!? Everone knows I love sandwiches?! HUH? Coward!!!
07/27/2004 anonymous: bread is gay
07/28/2004 John Slocum (4): “Best rock drummer of all time,” I gasped, nearly in tears. "Better than Moon...better than Copeland...better than Peart." Author: You're forgetting about Hurry's great drummer. He's right up there. I'd like to echo some of Ewan's comments, that is to say the short is long and some parts are boring. Why didn't you chop this down a bit? (serious question)
07/28/2004 Jon Matza: Slocum: Did Jimmy Page set limits on the length of his black box-augmented guitar solo on "Dazed & Confused" (26 minute Song Remains the Same version)? Negatory, buddy! In comparison this is a model of concision! It came spilling out in an intentionally self-indulgent, self-induced, Zeppelin inspired mind trance. However I'm aware I've been taking untoward liberties w/short length & thus pledge to keep the next several < 100 words.
07/28/2004 qualcomm: matza, please also keep your words to a maximum of two letters apiece.
07/28/2004 Ewan Snow: Matza already did that, except with four letter words. or is that what you meant?
07/28/2004 qualcomm: that is what i meant.
07/29/2004 Benny Maniacs (5): If you add masturbation to this short, it would be eerily similar to my journey through puberty.
07/29/2004 scoop: My solemn oath applies to this monster as well. But again I am deeply torn by my love of Led Zepplin, my displeasure with the joke to lenght ratio and my unshakable fear of the Za. Once I navigate all these competing interests you will have my vote.
07/29/2004 Phony Millions (5): I'll state the obvious in sappy, sincere terms, so you all will collectively puke and bid me stay overseas: Matza is funny because he has humanity. His characterizations are all the more funny for me at least because however silly they are I identify and laugh at myself as I read it. The geeky-funny Dungeons and Dragons tone Matza gets here reminds me of a Kids in the Hall skit - a distinctly Canadian fantasia of self-mockery. Matza, were some of your childhood years spent in the outlying suburbs of Toronto, by chance?
07/29/2004 scoop: "Fantasia of self-mockery" I would know that's your prose Brad if it was uttered in a series of clicks from the tounge of a Bushmen. Welcome back!
07/30/2004 Jon Matza: Fantasia of self-mockery is dead-on! What I was trying for, anyhow. Tip of my hat to Evans.