Step One. Love Led Zeppelin. I wonder sometimes about what makes a drummer a household name. There certainly aren’t many who are. Name recognition goes to the singer, sometimes the guitarist. It’s pretty rare for the non-musician to really connect with the person at the back of the stage. Unless they at some point sing a song (Ringo and Dave Grohl and Levon Helm) the drummer’s name often is lost. How did John Bonham become one of those who are celebrated as much as any of the other guys in the band? I chalk it up to feel. I chalk it up to love. There is an underlying emotion to the music that comes from the bottom up, rises through the songs like a deep and vital thing, infusing the whole ensemble with a powerful, settled feel and intangible poignancy. Any musician can learn how to play any Led Zeppelin song of course, but to make it feel anything like the original, you have to start with a love for that visceral, emotive foundation.
The slide guitar begins.
It fills the monitor and fills the stage and fills the venue and it fills me up, hitting the frequency of my being.
My back straightens and I settle solidly on the drum stool. My hips are right angles; my feet melt into the pedals.
I breathe deeply, drawing the smell of bodies and heated tubes and beer-soaked carpets and taps and electricity into my lungs and I rest, unclenching my chest muscles and shoulders. The air runs down my center and into my diaphragm.
My pores expand and the sound enters, vibrating the channels in my veins open, widening tracks around my veins as they travel through muscle and tissue.