now playing: mark kozelek, “kentucky woman”
i have really….really….got to re-evaluate my sleeping habits with an eye towards trying to be a little more discliplined about how i go about this whole routine.
not that insomnia doesn’t have its rewards – the solitude that is becoming increasingly difficult to come by, for instance.
i came home last night from work dead tired, having only slept for a couple of hours before getting up for work…i had a freshly printed out “to-do list” in my hand, and sat down to set about the tasks i’d laid out for myself, only to end up frustrated with one in particular – so i laid down on the love seat and fell dead asleep. i woke up a little before midnight to the strains of the orange bowl drifting from the television – it was the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, and the battle of the shitty kickers was really just getting underway…i watched as two teams took turns taking futile shots at the end zone, only to send their crooked-legged kickers onto the field to respectively miss field goal after field goal. finally, on the final posession of the third overtime volley, the penn state kicker (who had missed two field goals that any NFL kicker could’ve made sitting down) finally put the winning kick between the uprights.
i can’t wait….seriously, cannot WAIT – to see chris bermans’ top ten plays of the week this sunday on NFL primetime.
anyway, i tried to go back to sleep after that, but at around 2:30 i gave up and came downstairs…i finished a couple of web design things that i’ve been putting off, got some things together that i have to ship out for ebay and cdbaby, and some various and sundry tasks that needed my attention.
among all that, i found this piece on cameron crowe‘s official site…i know that one of these days, i’m gonna get in trouble for reprinting this stuff, but this was just too special not to share….
I went back home to San Diego for a wedding recently.
I stood in the doorway of my old room. It’s about the size of a closet, and while I was growing up the walls bulged with albums on both sides. Somewhere in between, breathing a small sliver of air, I did most of my writing for ROLLING STONE. In the mid-Seventies, ROLLING STONE was just about the only place for a musician to stretch out, to talk about things that mattered, to be taken seriously. Very few artists wouldn’t sit for an interview with the magazine. Carole King was one; she pleaded privacy. Joni Mitchell was another; she hadn’t appreciated the family-tree drawing of her ex-boyfriends. The most elusive interview subject, though, was Jimmy Page.
Led Zeppelin’s founder and star guitarist, Page had never done an interview with ROLLING STONE. He swore he never would. Page’s loathing for the magazine was well known in rock circles. ROLLING STONE had run five straight negative reviews of the band’s albums, but it was the scathing dismissal of Zeppelin’s debut LP that stayed with Page. He was sure it was personal. “Why should I deal with that magazine?” he said in 1973. “They tried to destroy my band.” I was then interviewing him for the Los Angeles Times, but I didn’t dare tell Page that I was a regular contributor to ROLLING STONE, too. He might have ended the interview right there. I was a die-hard fan, and Page seemed to appreciate my detailed fan-oriented questions that day. (“Exactly whose voice says, `Have you seen the bridge?’ “) When the band came to the States to tour in 1975, I was one of two journalists invited to go with them. (Lisa Robinson was the other.) Armed with an assignment from editor Ben Fong-Torres, my goal was to talk Led Zeppelin into a cover story for ROLLING STONE. The English hard-rock bands were my favorites, and this helped build my relationship with the magazine. I came along at a time when the original faction of RS writers, great ones like Ben and Lester Bangs and Robert Greenfield, didn’t really care to spend, say, a Southwestern swing through America with Deep Purple. (I still run into metalheads who refer to the famous Steak-Throwing Incident, from a ’75 interview with Ritchie Blackmore.)
For me, on-the-road reporting was a dream – and a constant irritation to my parents. I’d leave home for a few days and come back weeks later. Because I was still in school at the time, it drove my parents nuts. At the height of my rock-journalism beat, I was on my way back from a Lynyrd Skynyrd tour and ran into a Rory Gallagher tour in the airport. I joined the tour for a few days for Creem, then jumped over to a Crosby and Nash tour for ROLLING STONE. As Annie Leibovitz reminisced recently, picking up a prestigious photography award: “I always believed my life would never be as exciting as the people I went on the road with.”
In many ways, I grew up on the ROLLING STONE beat. I lost my virginity, fell in love, interviewed my heroes, left home. Back to the Led Zeppelin cover. Working with the band’s publicist, Danny Goldberg, I hatched a plan to get Zeppelin to agree to the story. It had to be done carefully. I would join the tour in Chicago, and we would ease the band into the delicate ROLLING STONE issue along the way. Touring with Led Zeppelin meant huge crowds, sleek limousines, the finest hotels . . . and still, an underdog feeling in the air. Zeppelin was the black sheep of English hard rock.
It was inevitable that every time Led Zeppelin would tour, so would the Rolling Stones. Zeppelin would outdraw the Stones easily, but you’d never know it from the media coverage. In its day, Zeppelin’s life was lived mostly out of the spotlight. On the road, Zeppelin was a family. The band members’ squabbles were open, their infidelities were open, drugs were not. The only drug used in my presence was amyl nitrite, gleefully snapped in my face by piratesque road manager Richard Cole, much in the same way others might hug hello. (On many assignments throughout the Seventies, cocaine was the obvious drug of choice. My aversion to the drug probably made me more popular with the musicians who used it.) Every once in a while someone would say, “Shh, there’s a writer here.” And Page would always reply: “He’s all right. He’s family.” Robert Plant was the first to agree to the ROLLING STONE interview. (Page said no immediately.) Sick with a cold in Chicago, Plant sat in the Ambassador Hotel and talked for hours. Like most artists with something to prove, he had a great interview in him. Page was still the focus of the band; Plant was thought of, almost secondarily, as the Singer. In our interview he revealed himself as the major collaborator that he was. I transcribed our conversation that night. “Stay after Jimmy,” said Plant. “He’ll give in. If he doesn’t, you’ve always got me for your cover.” Page would not give in. I stayed with the tour, hoping for a wind of change. Back home, I had been canceled out of two classes. I didn’t care. Nightly, tour photographer Neal Preston and I would fly out to Zeppelin shows in Cleveland and Indianapolis on the band’s plane, the Starship, watch the concerts from onstage and then return with the band to its tour base in Chicago. The Starship was Zeppelin’s sanctuary, a place to discuss the creative competition, study videos of California Jam or The Girl Can’t Help It or just watch drummer John Bonham thundering up and down the aisle, bellowing Monty Python routines. We spent hours together, but Page refused to bring up the ROLLING STONE subject with me. Finally, in Detroit, bassist John Paul Jones agreed to an interview. Then Bonham gave in. Danny Goldberg had been right. The friendly competition within the band could not abide a Led Zeppelin cover story that featured only Robert. Our interviews were scheduled for New York, two days later. I stayed on the tour. More frantic calls home. “You must get to Page,” said Ben Fong-Torres, back at the magazine’s main office, in San Francisco. “Ask the tough questions. Write about what you see.” I had now been on the tour two weeks, and still no Jimmy Page interview.
Back home, my parents were positive I was on drugs. I approached Page one night on the plane ride back from a show in Pittsburgh. He was sorry, he said, he could not cooperate. He could not understand how a writer would even want to work for ROLLING STONE. “They had no use for me when I needed them,” said Page bitterly. “Now they want my face to sell magazines. Tell me why I should give them an interview. Give me a reason. I’ll bet you can’t.” I stood there and began talking, saying anything, just to keep him from turning me down again. I told him that the record-review section was not one person who decided what artists the magazine liked or didn’t like; it was mostly freelancers like me (didn’t work). I told him his fans deserved to read about the band in the magazine (didn’t work). Then I told him that I used to work at a record store, and our behind-the-counter joke was that if you bought only the records ROLLING STONE gave good reviews to, you’d have the worst collection of anyone you knew.
“All right,” he said finally, “I’ll do the interview. But I won’t pose for the cover.” We completed the interview two nights later at the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, where he alternately discussed his life with Led Zeppelin and listened with rapture to a rare Joni Mitchell radio interview I’d borrowed from a friend (“Her voice . . . her voice . . . just listen to her voice”). Sitting on the floor of his presidential-sized suite, suitcases half-unpacked all around him, Page ended the interview on an oddly enigmatic note. He was still searching, he said, for an “angel with a broken wing.” He asked to keep the Joni Mitchell tape, I said all right, and somewhere about three hours into sunrise he agreed to pose for the cover, too. Time was now of the essence. Ben held the cover open for a shot to be taken by Neal Preston. We had to do the photo the next day to make the cover. Neal specially reserved a room at the Plaza and set up his backdrop. It was the band’s day off. The members were informed of the shoot, they agreed, we were almost there. That morning, Page disappeared. Plant was the first to arrive – at 4:00 p.m. – his shirt “accidentally” fallen open, his jeans and hair “accidentally” perfect. (“I’ve been preparing for this for years.”) Then John Paul Jones arrived with Bonham. Joe Walsh and his then manager, Irving Azoff, arrived to help their friend Page through this most tender ordeal, but Jimmy was nowhere to be found.
Finally, Page arrived. In his arms were two bouquets of dead roses – his defiant statement for the cover of ROLLING STONE. He explained his delay: “I was looking for black roses. They exist, you know.” He looked around the room. “Let’s do this quickly.” The session began. Three of the four members of Led Zeppelin struck a conciliatory pose, but the fourth, Page, held the roses and stared right through the camera. It was his chilling look that made the photo. The film was rushed to the lab, and I flew home to San Diego to write up the story. I had decided that it would be a question-and-answer feature; that’s how good the interviews were. The call came in early the next day. There had been an equipment malfunction. The film was unusable; barely exposed was a dark silhouette of what might have been – a ROLLING STONE cover to rival the magazine’s best. The cover was hastily hand-colored from Neal’s live photos, and it turned out nicely. The article ran as scheduled. It was an immediate seller for the magazine.
Soon after, Ben Fong-Torres called. Jann Wenner, the editor in chief, wanted to meet me. I flew to San Francisco two days later. Ben picked me up at the airport. It was not a great day, he informed me; Jann would probably not be seeing me. Wenner’s mentor and an early sponsor of ROLLING STONE, the esteemed Ralph J. Gleason, had passed away the night before. We drove to the RS offices, next to the MJB Coffee Building, where the strong scent of coffee filled the air. (For years, the smell of freshly ground coffee reminded me of Ben Fong-Torres.) “Jann wants to see you in his office,” announced Ben’s assistant Faybeth Diamond. Jann Wenner, the charismatic leader of ROLLING STONE, the great nemesis of Jimmy Page, sat on his couch. He was disappearing inside of it, in fact, hunched over and sad. I shook Wenner’s hand and saw that his eyes were red from crying. He told me a little bit about Ralph Gleason, a little bit about losing a mentor.
I offered to come back another time, but Jann kept me there. He lifted the Led Zeppelin cover. It was a big seller, he said, but had I really satisfied myself? The feature was good, but I’d been on the road for weeks. What had I seen? What was my overview? Had I written all I wanted to write? Where was my point of view in this story? “Do you want to be a fan,” he asked, “or do you want to be a writer? Because there’s a difference.” I was seventeen years old, and I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write and write and write and write.
By CAMERON CROWE – Rolling Stone, 10/15/92 Issue 641, p68
i have some other news that i’d like to be able to pass along right now, but i want to wait until some things solidify before i start running my mouth. in the meantime, i should probably shower for work and get ready to wake miss jayda up shortly.