Is Led Zeppelin the official sound of quarantine?


Michelle St. Denis

The author dives into Led Zeppelin on Spotify, starting, of course, with “Stairway.”

It was another groggy morning in quarantine. Dragging my feet out of bed and to my desk, I signed into Journalism a minute before it started. Once on the Google Meet, I heard two juniors in the class, Ella Kitt and Angelina Arevalos, talking about Led Zeppelin being their official sound of the coronavirus quarantine. I hadn’t heard of this “Led Zeppelin,” but I realized they must be a big deal when Mr. Dibblee joined in on the conversation, seeming to agree with Ella and Angelina. I did not quite understand the conversation because I was unsure of who everyone was talking about, but the group seemed convinced that Led Zeppelin was a band I should know. 

Being the typical throwback pop and JB girl, I had no clue who Led Zeppelin was. You can only imagine, then, my confusion when I realized Led Zeppelin was not one person but a classic rock band with four members. The initial embarrassment I felt when I told my class I had no idea who Led Zeppelin was faded away when I read on Wikipedia that 1969 was the year Led Zeppelin’s first album was released. 

I asked Angelina how Led Zeppelin became her official sound of quarantine.

“On the first day of the quarantine, I found myself rearranging the posters on my wall. When I decided to keep the ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ album, I realized I hadn’t listened to them in a while,” Angelina said. “As soon as ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’ started playing, I knew I’d be listening to them for the rest of my quarantine. Let’s face it, quarantine is boring, and their passionate, edgy music is exactly what I need to spice up my life right now.”

Ella’s fondness for Led Zeppelin seemed a little more involuntary. 

“My dad is a boomer and lived through the Summer of Love, so I have to like them,” Ella said. 

While Angelina and Ella arrived at the liking of Led Zeppelin in different ways, they both agree that the band is the sound of quarantine.

“Led Zeppelin is the official sound of quarantine because Robert Plant’s beautiful, soulful voice is what we all need in challenging times,” Ella said. 

After hearing this from my classmates, I figured, if Led Zeppelin really is a big deal, I should educate myself. I needed to know, does Led Zeppelin really deserve the title of “official sound of quarantine”?

While I was scrolling through some song titles on Spotify, I felt reassured when I recognized the classic, “Stairway to Heaven.” When I started playing the song, the soft music calmed my mind and soul as I was taken back to my childhood. The memories of my eight-year-old self learning the four basic keys of this song on an electric guitar twice my size came flooding back.

I am not the only one who experiences nostalgia from this song. My dad, Scott St. Denis, is a music person; he used to play in a band back in the day (or so he says). He remembers how popular the song was during his childhood. 

“‘Stairway to Heaven’ brings me back to my high school days, when it was a rock anthem. If that song played on the radio, everyone and everything would come to a sudden halt, and I truly believe that that was the start of karaoke in the United States,” my father said. 

With high expectations, I kept scrolling through the song titles that Ella and Angelina recommended. After “Stairway to Heaven,” I started playing “What Is and What Should Never Be.” My relaxed state lasted a total of 25 seconds, as, without warning, I found that I was no longer soaring over the clouds but rather fighting for elbow room at a smelly, crowded concert with people rocking out. It did not help that I was wearing my AirPods near maximum volume. The song was a big jump from the usual heartbreak songs that Lewis Capaldi and Selena Gomez typically bless me with. 

I was only on my third song when any hope of warming up to Led Zeppelin was demolished. The song that did it for me, and not in a good way, was “Immigrant Song.” As soon as I heard the strange, high-pitched sound within the first seconds of the song, I knew it was going be hard for me to come around to it. Where was the elegant piano that my ears are so used to hearing from Selena and Lewis? All this song had to offer was a loud guitar and drums that set the song at a fast pace that I did not want to follow. 

Believe it or not, I am not alone in the St. Denis family when it comes to disliking this song. Maybe our distaste for “Immigrant Song” is hereditary.

“My brother loved that song, and he would play it on full blast over and over again. This caused me to hate it, and I thought they called it the ‘Immigrant Song’ because it sounds like a bunch of aliens invading our planet,” my father said. 

“Going to California,” though, was an unexpected U-turn for me. The joyful sound reminded me of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” which gave my delicate ears a peaceful and much-needed break. Once again, I was soaring over the clouds. I didn’t even mind when the lead singer, Robert Plant’s, voice became high-pitched in the middle of the song. The smooth fade-out at the end left me in a state of happiness. 

As I continued to listen to other well-known Led Zeppelin songs, though, I had a musical revelation: I do not like rock. It is too loud and aggressive for my soft spirit. Call me crazy, but my sad songs playlist makes me want to get up and dance more than Led Zeppelin does. Most of their songs are rock, and I’d rather feel like I’m soaring over the clouds than feel like I’m in a smelly room. I think I have had enough of Led Zeppelin. It’s time to return to my original quarantine sounds of Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. 

So there you have it, Led Zeppelin is officially not my official sound of quarantine, nor will you find their songs in my “Top Songs 2020” on Spotify. For me, Zeppelin is a smelly room, which, honestly, I’ve gotten enough of during quarantine. I would rather listen to music that makes me feel like I’m soaring over the clouds.