Excerpt from Back to Schoolin': What Led Zeppelin Taught Me About Music, now also available on Kindle:
It is etched into my memory: A time, long, long ago in perhaps late ’77 or early ’78, I am leafing through the LP bin in a drug store in Concord, California. I begin looking at the Zeppelin albums. I pull out the at-that-time relatively recently released Soundtrack Recordings for The Song Remains the Same. Turning the album over to view the back of the jacket, I am startled by what I see. (I am aware that this is a live recording.) My eyes are drawn to the track listing with its attendant song lengths inscribed. After glancing at Side One with the four tracks and average song lengths, suddenly Side Two leaps out at me. There is only one song? (“Dazed and Confused”) And it’s 26:53? I know that this song closes Side One of the debut album, running at approximately six and a half minutes. How and why has this song increased by over twenty minutes in its live incarnation? Thus am I introduced, unknowingly, to the art of improvisation.