He was reluctant.
The Stern show is the go-to place to hawk your wares. Obviously someone told Plant this, but he didn’t really get the memo, that you were supposed to disgorge your history and inner feelings in an expurgation of your life.
Robert was just there to promote his album.
He wasn’t sure what day it was what time it was or how long he’d been in the States, for him it was just another promotional opportunity.
And he was having nothing of the shenanigans.
You see all species of stardom have merged. It’s one giant club, throwing an endless party where everybody is equal. And to get ahead you post on social media and reveal your foibles and mystery is history…
But not with Robert Plant.
He said he wasn’t dating anyone.
But then he revealed he had a girlfriend in an aside.
He was pissed that Howard was taking so long to get to the new album, and was exasperated when Howard wanted history. For Robert Plant is living in the now.
This made for a less than satisfying interview, but it was a great insight into stardom, one we haven’t seen since the likes of Henley on Stern a year ago.
But Henley’s notoriously difficult, whereas…does anybody truly know who Plant is?
He brushed off criticism. He didn’t care that “Rolling Stone” panned the first Zep album (that’s what he calls the band, not “Zeppelin” or “Led Zeppelin” just “Zep”).
He brushed off the privilege of stardom. It was no big deal meeting Elvis, he expected it. Most musicians rub their hands and tell their blue chip stories…
But Robert just recited the facts.
He psshawed Howard’s theory that Jimmy Page was the love of his life. You could hear the resentment in the mind of the man from the Midlands. (Although when he mentioned the “Misty Mountains,” an actual location, your hair stood up on your arm.)
He wouldn’t get into his process. Where the lyrics came from. He said it was all easy, he just went with the flow.
He wouldn’t even bother addressing getting the band back together.
It was all about being a musician, making music and…
This was a revelation, because it’s so different from everybody else.
Everybody else wants the money. They go on the road to play the hits so those who remember will overpay for the experience. They don’t even want to risk new music.
Everybody else will tell you everything.
The first rule of interacting with a star is not to acknowledge they are a star. As soon as you break this rule, they either pull away or treat you like dirt, at arm’s length. Plant kept calling Howard “Dad,” and kept asking where they got this guy and was always threatening to leave, not because he had anything pressing on the schedule, but because his work was done and he was worn out.
And every legendary, gossipy story he denied. As for writing “The Rain Song” to satiate another star’s urging for a ballad, Robert didn’t remember it that way. It was like Robert was living in an unpierceable bubble, that you couldn’t stop marveling at, wanting to get inside.
Of course you heard a few new nuggets. Like his inability to remember the order of the verses in “Stairway To Heaven,” but he refuses to use a Teleprompter, that would kill the experience, and Robert’s all about the experience.
So you go back to way back when and you remember…
Zep were stars. Huge. But there was no context. Sure, they grew out of the Yardbirds, but this was something new, they didn’t sound like anybody else, they didn’t hang with anybody else, they just played their music to their adoring throng and lived the life of rock stars on the road.
You remember rock stars, don’t you? People who were first and foremost musicians, who were mysterious, the other, who hooked you with their magic yet were untouchable and unknowable despite you owning all the albums and going to all the shows. They had enough money to do what they wanted. They had all the perks of life, the women, the wine, the houses, the cars…
But you knew they were different. That you could never be one.
This is not rich financiers and techies, labeled by the media “rock stars.”
Nor is it those “stars” on television competition shows not hunting for talent but banking the bucks, losing what credibility they might have ever had in the process.
You can listen to the Zeppelin catalog and continue to get new insights. Every listen is not the same, despite the underlying song remaining so.
You remember the act being dark, all the stuff about Aleister Crowley.
You remember them having no opening act, before that was a thing.
You remember them having a wrestler as a manager, who single-handedly changed the touring formula, opening the door for everybody else. Why should you pay for ads, why should the promoter get a huge tranche of cash when as soon as the public was aware the show was gonna play it would instantly sell out?
Robert Plant was on Howard Stern for ninety minutes and the end result was we knew little more than we did before.
He brushed away Howard. He brushed away Robin. He was there, but he refused to get off his throne, while he was mostly affable and available. It was like a hologram appeared, and then it was gone. He left before the show was done and when implored to come back he got no rise from Howard’s accolades. The best have heard it all before, they know the context, they never came down from their perch, they could see it when they were young, they ascended the stairway and became…
That’s what is.
And what should never be is a Zep reunion. You want it, Robert Plant does not. He’s got all the money and the fame but he refuses to rest on his laurels, he’s still in the darkest depths of Mordor, rambling on, WHEW!