Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heavy Metal Islam

Yesterday Led Zepplin reunited and performed in London and apparently they were great.

A couple of days ago, Al Jazeera ran a story on how Zep over the years has served as a bridge between East and West.

That never occurred to me before, and since journalists can say anything, I might have my doubts were it not for the fact that the article includes extensive interviews with two musicians, Salman Ahmed of Pakistan and Mark Levine from the USA. Musicians will say anything, too, but these two carry conviction. Ahmed caught my attention when he said:

I saw the band at Madison Square Garden during their last US tour in 1977 and it was a spiritual awakening. There was something deeply familiar in the music, but I couldn't place it until I returned to Pakistan for medical school.

It was then that I realised music - in good measure, their music - had led me home. Zeppelin channelled the Sufi music of South Asia through the blues to create rock 'n' roll at once more spiritual and more hedonistic than any before or since. Soon enough I traded in my stethoscope for an electric guitar, which seemed the better instrument to help heal my deeply wounded society.

Article recommended.

"Heavy Metal Islam" is the title of a book by Mark Levine.

Image: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Update: Kashmir performed in London and the Sufi-like lyrics.


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