Eyes That Can See in the Dark

a music journal

January 3, 2004 (link)

12:47 PM

I noticed the other day that, though I was almost completely wrong on the men's side, I just about nailed it on the women's side (except for the winner).

Now that Otis Fodder's 365 Days Project is over, you might want to check out 52 Weeks from Dutch music educator Jan Turkenburg. It'd be too facile to call it a nederlandse versie of 365 Days -- it's got a flavor all its own -- but folks who enjoyed that project would, I suspect, be likely to enjoy this as well.

12:32 PM


Don't swallow the poison!!


Don't swallow your pride!!!

Current music: Rolling Stones - "Miss You (12" single version)"

(Comments for January 3, 2004)

January 1, 2004 (link)

1:56 PM

Kip Winger, the former lead singer from that esteemed band of the same surname, asks:

"Like, what does it mean when Robert Plant said, 'A tadpole in a jar?'"

And you know, I had the same question, prompted by reading this thread where that lyric was cited as one of Led Zeppelin's all-time worst. (It's from "Dancing Days", the first track off Side Two of the Houses of the Holy album.)

So I did some poking around, and I couldn't find much of anything except this:

Robert then delivers one of his most humorous lines of all time, as we all witnessed on DG a short spell back, when someone (one of our English brethren?) posted the true meaning for all those not in the know [...] Thanks to whoever posted that I can never quite listen to this song the same way again... I die laughing now!

That confirmed what I thought -- that the line wasn't meaningless hippie nonsense, but was rather some kind of British in-joke, perhaps along the same lines as Pink Floyd's Ummagumma (not to mention "Up the Khyber"). But unfortunately, it didn't spell out the reference being made!

So now I was really curious. I figured out that DG stood for Digital Graffiti, a Led Zeppelin mailing list...but it turned out to be defunct, and the link given to the mailing list archive was dead.

Five years ago, I probably would've given up there, but thanks to Google -- well, that, and the slightly obsessive frame of mind that tends to come upon me when I'm presented with a secret just barely out of reach -- I found, to my pleasant surprise, an alternate archive. And I figured, "Well, the archives are all in compressed format...it'll be a pain in the butt...but hey, it's New Year's Day, I'm home sick with a cold, I've been busy applying to schools and trying to get stuff done: I'll indulge myself. Besides, once they're unzipped, I just have to do a BBEdit Lite search on 'tadpole', so it should be easy to find the right post."

So after a few minutes of downloading, and fiddling with my unzipping program to get it to batch-process the ZIP files, I found my answer in digest #1215, which I now share with you -- a secret that appears to be available nowhere else on the web (in easily-readable form, anyway):

Date: Sat, 3 Feb 1996 13:51:49 +0400
From: Nigel Davies
To: ZEPPELIN-L@cornell.edu
Subject: Re: Tadpole in a jar

IMO, Dancing Days is just about long, summer days and Robert being on the make with one girl in particular. He's not too fussed about conventional courting ritual but is prepared to go through some of the motions, e.g. promising lifetime devotion et al, to reach his ultimate objective as per the line: "You'll be my only, my one and only, is that the way it should start?"

"Tadpole in a jar" though is definitely English slang for when a gentleman has his hand in his pocket and is...erm...playing with himself. The tadpole is his (flaccid) organ (linkage being the visual resemblance between a tadpole and spermatozoa); the jar is (not his hand, but) his pocket. The term is usually used in a derogatory fashion when passing comment on guys caught with their hand in their pocket or with a rather visible hard-on. Robert is well-versed in self-deprecation though.

All of which makes the likes of this answer look a bit absurd (Tolkien?!!?)...and certainly puts this story synopsis in an, ahem, entirely different light...

Maybe I need a new tagline?

Eyes That Can See in the Dark: bringing you the dirty secrets of rock music!

(I'm going to start saying "tadpole in a jar" all the time.)

By the way, isn't John Paul Jones' solo on "No Quarter" one of the loveliest things ever? It's easily among my favorite rock piano solos of all time. If I understand correctly, the final backing track on "No Quarter" was just Take 3, which is impressively low -- at least by comparison with, say, the Beatles or the Beach Boys. (The very nice outtake on my Waldo disc was, I think, Take 1.) With the (slight) exception of "D'yer Maker", I love Houses of the Holy -- it's pretty much always been my favorite Led Zeppelin album.

By contrast, I've been totally unable to get into Physical Graffiti, which I picked up about a year and a half ago and have listened to three or four times since. I don't really understand why, exactly, but other than "Trampled Underfoot" and a couple other songs, it just doesn't do anything for me at all. Perhaps it's that it has the sound, to me, of a band that's become self-conscious; many of the tracks feel like a deliberate effort to simplify and strip down, but it feels somehow contrived and heavy-handed, lacking many of the things I like most about LZ.

Current music: Led Zeppelin -- Houses of the Holy

(Comments for January 1, 2004)


Current reading:

Euripides III, ed. Richmond Lattimore and David Grene


The Earthsea Trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin



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