April 7, 2013 by NowhereButPop
Houses of the Holy isn’t my favorite Led Zeppelin album, nor is it their best; in fact, it’s probably their fourth best after Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin IV, and Led Zeppelin II. But, for some reason, for a good six weeks every spring, Houses of the Holy becomes not only my favorite Zeppelin album, but my favorite album of all time. The reasons why this phenomenon has been happening since I was 18 are twofold: 1) the purely superficial and egomaniacal fact that it was released 18 years to the day prior to my birth, and 2) it symbolizes and represents something greater than themselves, or even music in general.
When we look at Led Zeppelin, we examine them in two halves: the Led Zeppelin albums (I, II, III, and IV), and the post IV years (Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti, Presence, and In Through the Out Door). So, not only does Houses kick off the latter phase of Zeppelin’s career, but it also serves as a rebirth of sorts. Led Zeppelin IV is the sound of the band putting together everything they had done on their first three albums into one mega-hit. Houses is the continuation and refining of that sound. It was Led Zeppelin doing whatever the hell they wanted to do.
Houses of the Holy is the sound of synthesis and rebirth, and it’s no coincident that the album was released within the first week of spring, the season most associated with rebirth and a new beginning. Coming off the dread and dreariness of winter, seeing plants come back to life, feeling the sun beat heavier on your back, and listening to the sounds of the earth grow livelier and more energetic brings a renewed sense of hope. That’s what spring is really, the season of hope and rebirth. And no other album captures this ideal, this aesthetic, more perfectly than Houses of the Holy.
Prior to Houses, Led Zeppelin’s last album Led Zeppelin IV was released in November of 1971… and it is a winter album that marked the end of the first half of the band’s career. Houses on the other hand, is the beginning of something new, both musically and spiritually. It’s almost as if the darkness of winter and the absence of Led Zeppelin for a year and a half are washed away with the onset of spring, and a new Zeppelin album in Houses of the Holy. The album itself seems to be a celebration of life and of rebirth in the same way as the spring innately is. Led Zeppelin IV was heavy and menacing, as winter is, but Houses of the Holy is light and jovial just as is spring, the time of the year in which the album was released.
Even the songs on the album seem to reflect spring and all that is associated with it. Songs like “Over the Hills and Far Away”, and “The Song Remains the Same” have a feel of rejuvenation and excitement that mimics the feeling we get once the weather starts becoming nicer. “The Rain Song”, the Houses version of “Stairway to Heaven” is apparently not only a song about love, but finding love in the spring season as it borrows imagery and lyrics from medieval rituals celebrating the onset of spring and rain. The final track “The Ocean” is a literal celebration of life as it pays tribute to Plant’s young daughter as well as the legion of devoted fans of the band.
If I had to sum up Houses of the Holy by one song, it would have to be “Dancing Days”, without a doubt. With lines like “Dancing days are here again as the summer evening grows”, and “crazy ways are evident by the way you’re wearing your clothes” it’s plain to see that there is an excitement that comes from the approaching spring. As with “The Rain Song”, it’s easy to interpret “Dancing Days” as a spring fling song, after all they both describe blossoming romance and link them to the blossoming season that is the spring.
Dancing days are indeed here again, and the summer evenings are growing by the day. Flowers are beginning to blossom and the sun is shiner brighter than it has all year long. The spring always fills us with a sense of hope and excitement, and energy. Nothing captures that feeling better than blasting “Over the Hills and Far Away” out of the radio with all the windows down, driving around just because it’s a beautiful day out. The only downside is that these dancing days can’t last all year round.
 Both of those honors go to Physical Graffiti.
 This six week span of time lasting from approximately March 18-April 30.
 That or Plant just can’t wait to see more scantily clad women. But then again it’s Robert Plant, so I can’t really envision that ever being a problem.