Meet Alden Marin

I’ve recently made the acquaintance of one Alden Marin, wine connoisseur and concert-goer extraordinaire. Alden had mentioned attending numerous Led Zeppelin concerts, so I recently asked him if he’d bought Zep’s brand new 3-disc live release.

His answer is classic Marin: bombast, hyperbole, and enthusiasm to match my own.

Yeah—When I heard it was the ’72 LA Forum concerts, I was so excited that I bought TWO copies, Joel!

HOW THE WEST WAS WON is a great disc—well recorded, fine song selection, good balance between heavy, hard rocking songs and sweet acoustic. The GOIN TO CALIFORNIA rendition is a tear jerker. They could make you stand up on your seat pumping your fist and screaming with ecstasy one song, and then make you cry the next.

I was at the ’72 shows at the Forum—as well as the 73 shows AND the legendary 7 nights at the Forum (breaking Neil Diamond’s run of 6 sold out nights there) in August of ’74. The ’74 shows at the Forum were really the apex of Zep’s career—they were simply amazing. We went opening and closing nights. People went berserk—and we had second row center seats, about 30 ft from the stage. My dad (who’s with Time, Inc in the magazine division) knew Jack Kent Cooke and he personally got us the seats.

Add to that, Jimmy and Robert were living in Malibu Colony that Summer—where we grew up—and we knew them a little. For the August 74 shows, Robert is wearing a shell necklace that my then 13 year old sister gave him.

One night, I think it was the final night of that ’74 tour, they played 3 encores with the FORUM HOUSE LIGHTS ON. They just loved LA like it was their own—they would not leave the stage and people were crying with joy, just anarchic—and the shows were the best rock and roll spectacles I have EVER seen. Pure power and precision and bombast and aggressiveness and gentleness as NO ONE ELSE IN ROCK could do. I think that was the last I saw them, ’74.

I went off the Stanford and got into Genesis and the Dead (who were great in concert too—have you ever heard their magnum opus EUROPE ’72? WHAT AN ALBUM—I was there for part of the show.)

ALSO FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE in 75/76. I was at BOTH of those shows in the FRONT ROW, Joel—Winterland AND the Marin Civic auditorium. I can hear my whistling and screams of encouragement to Peter through the entire classic record. I just knew HE was gonna make it. You should have been there, man, when the house lights dimmed at Winterland on that first night—and he roared into SOMETHINGS HAPPENING: Jerry Pompelli announces “WOULD YOU PLEASE WELCOME AN HONORARY MEMBER OF SAN FRANCISCO SOCIETY—MR. PETER FRAMPTON” and the place just ERUPTS. You can hear the pure magic on that song on FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE. Just ethereal.

I have actually thought that it was the piercing qualities of so much of MY OWN ambient whistling throughout the disc that might have helped him make it!! I am such an egotist…BUT ZEP was really peerless. WE EVEN SAW THEIR FIRST SHOW EVER IN SO. CAL—1969 at the ANAHEIM CONVENTION CENTER to introduce the first album…guess who opened the show? Right—JETHRO TULL—who themselves were amazing—they introduced the classic album STAND UP that year. What a disc THAT is—still great…

I could go on and on. You should interview me. I’ve seen it ALL—even BOWIE’s ’72 debut of ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS TOUR at the Hollywood Palladium. He also played the Santa Monica Civic if you can believe that—we saw that one too.

Heart of the Sunrise

A grand symphony of varied themes and verbal imagery; the pounding intensity of frustrated loss and the intensity of dreams yet to be realized; the yearning with all one’s heart for something, anything, to fill the aching void where love and life used to be; the wistful, hopeful, prayerful gaze into the heart of the sunrise, accepting with grace one more day’s opportunity to be, do, have, give, live, love.

I’ve read until I’m sick of it about Jon Anderson’s ‘meaningless meandering’ lyrics. Anderson isn’t a balladeer; if those critics need simple storytelling there are plenty of singer songwriters whose lyrics do just that. That’s never been what ‘Yes’ has striven for. Anderson’s lyrics paint grand vistas of feeling and intensity, using language in broad vibrant strokes more akin to Van Gogh than Ansel Adams. Not better, not less; just a different flavor when I’m in that mood.

Fragile by YesYes’s 1971 release “Fragile” is certainly one of the most important rock albums of all time. A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, “Roundabout” was ubiquitous the year of its release. “Long Distance Runaround” still gets plenty of airplay on the AOR stations. I’ve already commented on the huge sweeping theatrics of “South Side of the Sky.” What I haven’t done, ever, is fully shared with anyone the depths at which “Heart of the Sunrise” reaches me.

When I was a teenager, I shared my room with both my brothers; one older, one younger. I was the quiet one; Shane, my younger brother, was verbally quieter, but carried a presence as palpable as strong cologne. Built like a short (but still taller than me) Arnold Schwarzenegger with ‘Conan the Barbarian’ hair, he didn’t have to speak to be noticed. My older brother, Brett, was over six feet tall and built like a bull with a voice to match. No one missed him.

After 111 days, I think I’m back. It’s been a long hard road, but the music is starting to flow in my head again. I hope, now that it’s turned on again, that it stays.

Thanks for being there.
–spinhead

And there I was in the middle, studious, skinny, silent.

They controlled the music on our stereo. I didn’t listen to Motown or classical or jazz when they were around; if it wasn’t what they liked it didn’t get played. Many albums only got used on one side; albums like “Fragile” were never sampled on side two for whatever might be there. Long complex works like “Heart of the Sunrise” just didn’t stand a chance against “Satisfaction” and “Radar Love.”

On summer afternoons, while they were at the beach or playing football in the street, I lingered in our shared room, laying in the sunshine on my bed, reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and listening to oddities like the Dead’s “Anthem of the Sun”, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Tarkus”, and especially Yes’s ambitious efforts on “Tales from Topographic Oceans”, “Close to the Edge”, and individual cuts like “Heart of the Sunrise.”

Opening in a thunder of bass and drums, the song weaves together two themes: a staccato hammering that drives right into your head, and a slow, swaying melody which sounds more like a lullaby. Back and forth they struggle; hammering and soothing, until nearly four minutes into the 11-minute opus, the lullaby wins out for a while. Anderson’s voice, now mellower than it was in those days, is nearly childlike; high and thin, almost asking for a lullaby instead of sharing one.

Chris Squire’s bass, strong and firm, manages to emphasize the delicacy of the melody instead of crushing it with unnecessary weight. Steve Howe’s guitars; Bill Bruford’s drums; Rick Wakeman’s keyboards; all build gradually to a new theme which never quite makes the transition from lullaby to thunder a graceful one. Instead, we’re forced to accept that sometimes change isn’t subtle, gradual; sometimes, it’s in-your-face loud and you deal with it.

The themes continue their struggle, with thunder gradually winning out—until the end, when it all crashes into an abrupt, almost painful, silence.

Every sunrise is another chance; another day to try again, to get it right this time. As the sun creeps over the balcony of my apartment each morning, painting the fields across the road with gold, pouring coppery through the windows, I decide, every day, to accept the challenge found in the heart of the sunrise.

I think I’m gonna be okay.