Monday, December 1, 2008

Myth Makers Pt 4 - Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"

It was the winter of '76, and I was staying in my absent brother's bedroom (always a treat - he had an ultra-hip red velour bed spread while I had an ugly green/gold cover in a Wells Fargo wallpapered room - in fact, I think I am still recovering from the parental fashion sense inflicted upon me...) and then it happened, right outside the window.

A miracle from the Most High.

I would not have to go to school in the morning.

For it had begun snowing like mad, and, in the South, a mere two inches of snow will shut down an entire city, for we have no snow equipment at all.

Oh, it was bliss - a veritable holiday was being laid out before my very eyes. Huge round flakes were covering the sins of Mother Earth, a blanket of grace was being laid upon her, her dreary brown being covered lovingly with fresh, clean white crystals.

Nothing can make a tortured soul of a geek more at peace with the world than realizing he will face no terrorizing bullies nor grueling homework the following day. I was being reprieved from the duty of reporting to school and delight was mine.

The radio was on - to the "risque" hard rock station - Rock 103 - and they must have, now that I think about it, must have known the joy entering into the hearts of all teens and youth everywhere, and so the DJ decided to play a song. A very long, mystical tune that sang of being "a traveler of both time and space" and of "elders of a gentle race" - and I was transported.

The song, of course, was "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.

It touched a deep longing in me to be so much more than I was - to be a mythical being who traveled the stars - and did it with a thumping powerful beat that was almost Wagnerian. Frankly, I think Wagner would've liked it. That is, if he had been more influenced by Eastern mysticism.

Try to imagine though, being a boy of 12 and being set free from school, and then hearing this epic rock song in the dark, the stereo receiver granting the only illumination as you watch snow fall in your backyard.

I did not know such music existed, nor such joy. Oh, dear saints, it was a touch of sehnsucht for this boy in North Mississippi. A longing or desire for something mystical, powerful and eternal.

"Kashmir" - lyrics
Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream
I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been
To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen
They talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed

Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace, whose sounds caress my ear
But not a word I heard could I relate, the story was quite clear
Oh, oh.

Oh, I been flying... mama, there aint no denyin
Ive been flying, aint no denyin, no denyin

All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand, as I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find where Ive been.

Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream
Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream
My shangri-la beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high and true, when movin through kashmiiiir....

I had no idea what "Kashmir" was - but it sounded beautiful.

I know, I know - its about all sorts of things that a good evangelical Christ-follower should not appreciate. Is Plant refering to spiritual transcendence through drug use? Seems likely. This was the 70s after all.

But if you don't read the Bible (and most Americans do not) - then you can miss some of the more mystical and transportational passages in it - and end up doing what so many fools do - turn the words of God into didactic moralism with a few weird stories.

Let me show you that what Robert Plant sang about is quite available for the saints:

I Corinthians 15:40-54
There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

Can you hear what Paul is so excited about? Our resurrection body. Our eternal physcial manifestation that will NOT perish, grow old or be subject to time.

With such bodies we can go anywhere - as Jesus did - and live forever - as Jesus does!

You see, if you are like me, you long to be in another place, another time. It will come, you can be sure. As one preacher has said "It is more certain that you will rise from the dead than you will rise tomorrow morning!"

Immortal bodies, speaking with "elders of a gentle race". Remember how I said yesterday, the meek will inherit the Earth? That's them.

I know it sounds strange, but I think you too have had moments of clarity and ache that were so good they hurt - bu the hurt was a good hurt - a powerful longing - sehnsucht as the Germans put it.

That night I saw nature conquered by God's mercy, and a 11 year old boy isolated and alone was given a glimpse of heaven's glories by Led Zeppelin.

Who'd have thought THAT would have happened?

Jesus did. He's sneaky like that.


1 comment:

Resilient Hawk said...

I love Zeppelin, and especially intrigued by one of their other songs, "Nobody's Fault But Mine." Read the history, and reference to the original. Amazing.

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