Robert Plant has long been the most interesting personality of the surviving Led Zeppelin members, and I think most would be hard pushed to argue otherwise. Whilst he lacks the unwavering Cambridge-esque intellectual character of John Paul Jones, or the perennial, swaggering pout of Jimmy Page, one would argue that Plant occupies the space between both his band members – and that this is his true majesty.
An intellectual but also a rock music icon able to be as introspective as extroverted, Plant has always been exemplary both on and off-stage. Even the fabled ‘Golden God‘ quip was actually in jest, as opposed to the mythic account for his status that it has become in more contemporary times thanks to the films of Cameron Crowe.
A fascinating artist in every sense of the word, Plant is one of those rare figures that you could sit and listen to all day. Owning a way with words that stems from his West Midlands origins, no matter what the environment, Plant always comes across well. His take on everything from music to football is compelling. A man who takes his influence from across multiple creative disciplines, there can be no surprise that in both life and artistry, Plant’s opinions are always captivating.
In Led Zeppelin, he instilled a unique esoteric mysticism into their work by borrowing themes from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Norse and Welsh mythologies. Musically, he has touched on folk, blues and world music.
For a man so compelling, it would surely be an eye-opening experience to gaze at the wonders of both his bookshelf and record collection. Like that uncle we all know, who is a non-conformist and somewhat of the black sheep of the family, Plant is the kind of guy you’d love to have a coffee with and talk the world away. One of the reasons for my somewhat longwinded intro is because, as you know from the headline, Plant has actually divulged a selection of his favourite records in years gone by – and many of them were surprising, even for a man as cultured as Plant.
Speaking to the now-defunct Q magazine, Plant revealed a glimpse into his eclectic music taste. Included was the ethereal beauty of This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song to the Siren’, Elvis Presley’s rocking ‘A Big Hunk O’Love’ and even ex-Television frontman Tom Verlaine’s track ‘Five Miles of You’.
However, there was another LP that stuck out more than most. This was The Cure’s 1989 single, the gothic masterpiece, ‘Lullaby’. Taken from the band’s darkly psychedelic eighth album, Disintegration, the track is one of The Cure’s signature numbers. Nightmarish but strangely uplifting, when you take a second to ponder why Plant loves the song, there’s no real surprise. He told Q: “I love Robert Smith’s beckoning you into his vulnerability. It’s an interesting little world, like H.G. Wells’s History Of Mr Polly.” This two-line account says more about the song than any critic or Cure fan has been able to in over 30 years.
Showing Plant to have a comprehensive knowledge of literature, the way he accounts for the surreal world that Robert Smith created when experiencing a severe bout of depression exacerbated by hallucinogens is remarkable. The parallel he draws between it and H.G. Wells’ own nightmare vision is nothing short of stark.