Tellin’ mother nature ‘bout you and me…

Moving more blogs over from my old space. Bringing this one here because I want to get back into blogging about music. See this as a segway to my Great Guitar Solos series, which I’m bringing back next Monday, and will (try) to do every Monday, starting with ones I already wrote. 

So I wanted to introduce everyone to my all-time favorite song. I don’t even know why it’s my all-time favorite song. What I do know is this:
a) It’s written by my all-time favorite band, Led Zeppelin.
b) It’s about a dog (Strider, the dog Robert Plant had at the time).
c) It’s my all-time favorite song.

I listen to it every morning when I wake up. It’s my ringtone. I know the lyrics by heart. I made myself a collection of every recorded instance of the song live. I have the studio outtakes and sessions on the electric instrumental version of the song. The studio outtakes/sessions, especially from Bron-Yr-Aur Cottage, of the acoustic version (which is the officially released version), are my Led Zeppelin collection holy grail.

Needless to say, I’m a bit obsessed with this song.

And I know you’re a Led Zeppelin fan if you already know what song I’m talking about.

And just which song am I talking about?

That’s right. “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”. Track 9 on Led Zeppelin III, or Track 4, Side 2 of the vinyl LP.

I don’t know what it is about this that keeps me coming back, but it’s an intoxicating song to me for some reason. This version here is my favorite version live:

The dog, BTW, as I mentioned above, was named Strider. There are even pictures of Strider!

plantstrider1 plantstrider2 plantstrider3

Maybe it’s the knee-slapping rhythm? Maybe it’s the awesome guitar? Maybe it’s the great lyrics?

Caught you smilin’ at me
That’s the way it should be
Like a leaf is too a tree
So fine
All the good times we had
I sung love songs so glad
Always smilin’ never sad
So fine

As we walk down the country lanes
I’ll be singin’ a song, hear me callin’ your name
Hear the wind whisper in the trees
Tellin’ mother nature ‘bout you and me

If the sun shines so bright
Or on our way it’s darkest night
The road we choose is always right
So fine
Can any love be so strong
When so many loves go wrong
Will our love go on
And on and on and on and on and on

As we walk down the country lanes
I’ll be singin’ a song, hear me callin’ your name
Hear the wind whisper in the trees
Tellin’ mother nature ‘bout you and me

My, my
La de la
Come on now
It ain’t too far
Tell your friends all around the world
Ain’t no companion like a blue-eyed merle

Come on now well let me tell ya’
What you missin’, messin’ ‘round them brick walls

Of one thing I am sure
It’s a friendship so pure
Angels singin’ all around my door
So fine
Ain’t but one thing to do
Spend my nat’ral life with you
You’re the finest dog I knew
So fine

When you’re old and your eyes are dim
There ain’t no Old Shep gonna happen again
We’ll still go walkin’ down country lanes
I’ll sing the same old song
Hear me call your name

I think it’s all of that and more. It’s just a really good song. The atmosphere is just plain feel-good, and the lyrics are wonderful! Even better, the lyrics are sincere! Robert actually means them!

(“Old Shep”, BTW, is a tune written by Red Foley and Arthur Willis about Red’s dog that had to be put down for old age. It was made famous by Elvis Presley. Plant is promising that that will never happen [“again”… because it already happened in the song “Old Shep”]).

The tuning of the song is interesting. It’s open G, tuned down a whole step. So, from strings 6 to 1, it’s C-F-C-F-A-C. Live, however, they’d just perform it in open G. It’s not an easy song to play by any means. I want to cover it, but I can’t play the guitar part very well at all. It’s especially hard since I sing and play at the same time. That’s not impossible, of course. Just takes a little extra practice.

I also mentioned above that the studio outtakes and sessions for the official acoustic version are my holy grail. Many of those sessions were at a little cottage in South Snowdonia, Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur cottage. It’s one of the places I hope to visit before it becomes too changed to have any memories of Zep’s time there.

Robert Plant’s family owned the cottage in the 1950’s as a summer/holiday retreat. In the year 1970, Plant and Jimmy Page, Plant’s wife Maureen, Page’s girlfriend Charlotte Martin, and Led Zeppelin roadies Clive Coulson and Sandy MacGregor all stayed at Bron-Yr-Aur after the grueling tour in support of LZII. The cottage had no electricity or running water.

While at the cottage, Page and Plant wrote much of Led Zeppelin’s third album. Songs that can be traced back to Bron-Yr-Aur include “Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp”, “Friends”, “That’s the Way”, “Over the Hills and Far Away”, “The Crunge”, “Down by the Seaside”, “The Rover”, “Poor Tom”, and an acoustic instrumental tune called “Bron-Yr-Aur” that, according to the story, Page wrote while watching the sun rise over the hills at the cottage.

You should listen to that song, as well:

You can’t tell me that song doesn’t evoke the feelings of a sunrise. It’s so beautiful.

And here… take a short tour of the outside front of the cottage:

In fact, just go through and watch all of these videos showing the cottage. I’m doing that now, hoping that we’ll get at least a little glimpse of the inside:

I would give absolutely anything to see Plant and Page go back to the cottage today and talk about writing all those songs and other hijinks. And I would, of course, hope they’d talk a lot about Bron-Y-Aur Stomp.

In fact, that’d be a seriously amazing little one-hour documentary! Jimmy Page and Robert Plant go back to Bron-Yr-Aur, and bring along a small film crew with them to talk about their time there.

Actually… I’m suddenly envisioning a sort of “tour of where Led Zeppelin wrote, rehearsed, and recorded” mini-series, where we spend an hour each at Bron-Yr-Aur, Headley Grange, Olympic Studios, Basing Street Studios, and other studios and houses and cottages that experienced the magic of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham writing their songs and rehearsing and recording their albums. I would pay quite a bit to watch something like that.

I’d also give anything to visit there myself… maybe stay a little while… bring my guitar and see if it can’t inspire any new tunes for me…

(Also… you’ll notice that the cottage is called “Bron-Yr-Aur”, but my all-time favorite song is called “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”. That was a spelling mistake on the artwork for the original pressing of the third album that they just never bothered to fix until the release of How the West Was Won, where they called it “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”. They also named that sunrise instrumental “Bron-Yr-Aur”, so at least they got that right.)

So again… I noted above about the acoustic sessions of “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” being my personal Led Zeppelin collection holy grail. Considering that we have so many other sessions from Bron-Yr-Aur, it always bugged me that the only “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” sessions we had were from “Jennings Farm Blues” (the name of the electric instrumental version of the song). How have the “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” sessions been kept away from the collectors for so long? Or are these sessions being kept by one of the so-called “inner circles” of traders? Either way, I keep hoping to see some kind of update that says such sessions have finally surfaced, despite the fact that I don’t think there’d be much fanfare.

While I know I’m not the only one who loves “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”, I sometimes wonder if I’m in a small minority of Led Zeppelin fans when it comes to how I feel about this song. I feel like there’s not that much demand for these sessions, though I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

What would be an awesome surprise is if, on the new Led Zeppelin deluxe remasters starting this year (actually, they’re already all been released by now, 2016), they include one or two sessions of acoustic “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” on the deluxe edition of LZIII (they didn’t… 🙁 ). While I enjoy “Jennings Farm Blues”, I’ve heard it. I want to hear something different, and the sessions for “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” would be much more exciting… for me, anyways…

So that’s it. My all-time favorite song.

And since I mentioned it a few times, here… listen to “Jennings Farm Blues”:



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