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Robert Plant on Charlie Rose Show

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CHARLIE ROSE, HOST: Welcome to the broadcast. Tonight, Robert Plant, former lead vocalist for Led Zeppelin. His new CD is called "Mighty Rearranger."

ROBERT PLANT: I had a block, I had an entire lyrical block. I thought I had reached the age where I had nothing left to say. I was a comfortable guy. I`ve got my life, my children, my grandchildren. Everything was -- is set. And I felt that maybe my whole persona or maybe -- was a little bit obsolete. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I was armed with all this detail. And "Mighty Rearranger" is one of the songs that relates, I think, to the passing of time, and the way that fate deals its hand. So basically, "Mighty Rearranger" I guess is the -- is fate.

CHARLIE ROSE: Robert Plant is here. He was Led Zeppelin`s lead singer, the golden god of rock `n` roll. Here is a look at some of his work.

CHARLIE ROSE: "Mighty Rearranger" is his eighth album, and by all accounts this is his best solo effort to date. The Delta blues, third- world rhythms and just enough of that famous voice to satisfy the Zeppelin fans.

I`m pleased to have Robert Plant at this table for the very first time. Welcome.

ROBERT PLANT: Thank you, Charlie.

CHARLIE ROSE: Great to see you.

London is still home. I mean, England is still home.

ROBERT PLANT: England, yeah, yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: You live in the country, you live.

ROBERT PLANT: I`ve always lived in the middle of England, a little west of the center, towards the Welsh borders. And.

CHARLIE ROSE: American music, though, rhythm and blues, was influential for you from early...

ROBERT PLANT: Well, yeah, when -- I think there was a huge movement towards black Americana in the British pop scene. I was just, perhaps, two or three years behind the Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things, and there was an amazing sort of -- the impulse on the ground, listening to black rhythm and blues, listening -- in your cities, you had music from New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chicago. You know, so many different cities had so much absolutely different music to offer us, and I never realized.

CHARLIE ROSE: But you knew you loved the sound.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, I was absolutely infatuated.

CHARLIE ROSE: It spoke to you, and the voices spoke to you.

ROBERT PLANT: Well, you know, there`s a kind of saccharin sweet thing about British pop music. It was somewhere between Johnny Ray and Pat Boone. It was something that was happening. And with Presley mimicking the black voice and bringing a little lift of black music into the mainstream, that was the first -- that was the sort of hors d`oeuvre. And then a little later on, you got all these black American bands who started to permeate.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did Presley influence everybody over there in the 50s?

ROBERT PLANT: I would say so, because he was totally unique. I mean, he took a lot of this sort of elements of the Johnny Ray approach, the kind of sobbing voice and that sort of thing. But he mixed it with the music that he was surrounded by when he was a kid in Memphis, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: If you had -- if you listened to Presley and didn`t know anything about him, would you know he was -- it was a white voice?

ROBERT PLANT: I think on some of the very early songs, I wouldn`t have known, no.

CHARLIE ROSE: You wouldn`t have known?

ROBERT PLANT: No, no. The stuff which he was taking, the Arthur Crudep (ph) music, that "That`s All Right, Momma," "Misty Train," which was -- Junior Parker`s "Blue Flames." I mean, the whole deal of Presley was that he was -- he was the original hep cat, you know. And what we got on the radio in England, it cut through all the drizzle, and it really gave us something -- everybody`s heads turned. And our parents, as you can imagine, the same thing in America, rejected it wholeheartedly, you know. They saw something coming around the corner they couldn`t understand, and.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s what it was about, them not understanding, sort of...

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, I think that call to arms. And you know, and the black music that followed it that we managed to get -- I mean, there were ports like Liverpool and London, where you had merchant seamen landing off boats from the States who`d bring records, 45s. That`s why the Beatles were so hip to a lot of the black soul music of the early `60s.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because they would pour into Liverpool.


CHARLIE ROSE: And so they heard.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, sure.

CHARLIE ROSE: See, I never knew that, that it was port cities that it first began to resonate.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, off the boats, yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk about this album and come back to some of this stuff. "Mighty Rearranger," what is that? Why that title? Because.

ROBERT PLANT: Because there is -- I had a block, I had an entire lyrical block. I thought I had reached the age where I had nothing left to say. I was a comfortable guy. I`ve got my life, my children, my grandchildren. Everything was -- is set. And I felt that maybe my whole persona or maybe -- was a little bit obsolete. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I was armed with all this detail. And "Mighty Rearranger" is one of the songs that relates, I think, to the passing of time, and the way that fate deals its hand. So basically, "Mighty Rearranger" I guess is the -- is fate, chance.

CHARLIE ROSE: All right. Let me talk about some of the things. You called it recently a group of statements from a guy who didn`t think he had anything left to say.

ROBERT PLANT: That`s right.

CHARLIE ROSE: Which is what you just said.

ROBERT PLANT: Exactly that, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: All of a sudden you had something you wanted to say?

ROBERT PLANT: I think that the musicians that surround this project come from such a variety of backgrounds that the sort of melange of the whole lot put together was so sparkling, it was so vibrant, that I dived into it. I found a new personality within it all, and I found a kind of honesty. And it was almost like a key to open up my old gift, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: The voice?

ROBERT PLANT: The voice and the ability to create something that goes with three minutes, 40 seconds of music that is substantial enough for a person at my time in life.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is three minutes, 40 seconds the magic time?

ROBERT PLANT: I guess it`s becoming the magic time.

CHARLIE ROSE: Under four, or, you know, under four.

ROBERT PLANT: But these songs came in like that accidentally. You make your point and you`ve gone. Some of the greatest songs in the history of popular music are under three minutes, you know. And I never -- in led Zeppelin, we -- our songs were deliberate. They were extended musical pieces. Sometimes they went on for seven or eight minutes. And live, you could take a short course and sort of serve a craft on the side of the stage while it was going on.

CHARLIE ROSE: I know. I know.

ROBERT PLANT: You know that.

CHARLIE ROSE: The -- have you found -- I mean, what`s interesting about you is that it seems to me that you have been able to incorporate within your sense of who you are that I in fact was the lead singer for Led Zeppelin, and therefore people want to at least stay connected to that. Whatever else I may do, they want to hear that. They want to talk about that. But they also want me to maintain that memory and that connection with where I came from.

ROBERT PLANT: I guess so. I would say so. And I think that if there is any memory at all from that period, then the people who -- if there`s any memory left at all -- people would know that the beauty of that particular period of music and Led Zeppelin`s contribution was that we continually changed. That our music digressed due to visitations that Jimmy Page and I made to North Africa, to India, to Thailand.

CHARLIE ROSE: You were exposed to new ideas in music and you incorporated it.

ROBERT PLANT: Constantly, yes. And it wasn`t about some kind of tin pan alley moment of keeping the thing going, repetition at all costs, just to remind the listener. The variety and the constant change was the thing that gave us our strength. And that`s what I have tried to do since the demise of Led Zeppelin.

CHARLIE ROSE: And is -- I want to talk about some of the things that are in here, including "Brother Ray," but are the things that -- it -- has this solo career, is it as satisfying to you, because it comes at a different time in your life, as Led Zeppelin was at that time?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, as you say, it`s a different time in my life.

CHARLIE ROSE: Of course, you can`t compare one to the other, but...

ROBERT PLANT: No, and because of that I`m much more hip to the way it works now. In Led Zeppelin, I was 20 years old, and I was rolling with this kind of momentum which it just had no end. And the amount of conjecture that surrounded the group and the sort of myth is way, way off course, but it had its own -- it had its own kind of speed and tempo.

Since then, I`ve traveled extensively in southern Morocco, in West Africa, and I found.

CHARLIE ROSE: You love Morocco.

ROBERT PLANT: I love it.

CHARLIE ROSE: We`ll come back to that.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, but it`s a new place to go in my heart and in my soul. And I`ve learned that the variety that was the strength of Led Zeppelin has to be my kind of standard that I carry through the rest of my career.

CHARLIE ROSE: Could there be anything better than being a 20-year-old lead singer for one of the great rock n` roll bands in the history of rock n` roll?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, it was a very, very disquieting time. Because the momentum and the growth of the success took us to places in stature and in attention and -- not power, but the public went for this thing, which was reviled by "Rolling Stone," which was ignored by the media and.

CHARLIE ROSE: "Rolling Stone" the magazine?

ROBERT PLANT: Yes, at the time. I remember this well. And.

CHARLIE ROSE: He reviled Led Zeppelin?

ROBERT PLANT: The whole process of an English group coming along, and just, you know, the sort of carousel across the States was amazing. Because venues weren`t like they are today. There weren`t that many big venues. I mean, the Garden, I don`t know whether that was used at that time.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, but Fillmore, you could go to Fillmore, couldn`t you?

ROBERT PLANT: Fillmore was the place, I guess, and that was 2,000 seats, I guess?


ROBERT PLANT: So the Beatles had played Shea Stadium, but with the equipment and the sort of inferior technology at the time, as you know, if you see a clip -- it was a mass of screaming girls. Well, we had a lot of guys in the audience, which was a bit of a let-down in a way. But we.

CHARLIE ROSE: Why was that, do you think?

ROBERT PLANT: I think the music, the actual stature of the music. It`s a very masculine musical form. I think the power of the guitar and the percussive elements of the music were quite masculine, and I think that the momentum of the thing -- it had quite a momentum. And it took a 20- year-old singer into a world that would just -- it just gamboled, constantly developing, more and more. And we didn`t really ever take stock of it, probably until about five years in. And then we began to.

CHARLIE ROSE: Took stock of who you were and what was happening around you?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, who we were, we were conscientious, believe it or not, kids sitting on the side of the hill trying to write songs that had some substance. That`s what it was. With young families, with hopes and - - you know, I mean, far different to how you and I are now, because we`ve gone through all these changes. So for me to be a musician, and you to be a raconteur, to get to where we are, we had to go through all those sort of things.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s exactly right. You couldn`t be here without having gone there.

ROBERT PLANT: So I think that where this takes me now is a really fantastic place. Because it`s at my own tempo, more or less.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is the voice significantly different, do you think?

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, I think so.

CHARLIE ROSE: Mellowed, wiser, more what?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, I hear remonstrations. I hear the sort of character of my voice in the very early days, and I think I was overtly concerned with filling in gaps in instrumental sections. I found myself, you know, I thought -- I didn`t know whether to do a card trick or take a rabbit out of a hat. There were a lot of times when I was preening around, you know, flicking my hair like, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: No, I remember.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, yeah. Which was just a little bit lacking, so I did overcompensate in those days.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did you watch anybody? Did anybody instruct you?

ROBERT PLANT: No, I listened. I listened.

CHARLIE ROSE: Listened to the music.

ROBERT PLANT: I listened to the music. I did have a good -- a kind of fairy godmother for a while in the United States in the form of Janis Joplin.


ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, because we played a lot of those festivals back then with the Doors and the Jefferson Airplane, those fantastic times when the youth culture actually had -- it thought it had a responsibility to help to change society and remove corruption, if you can believe that. And that whole movement, I was so infatuated by the idea of Americana taking a very sharp turn to the left, and in the middle of it all, there was this wonderful, vulnerable little bird, Janice Joplin, who used to look after me, and say, hey, you know, drink this, you`ve got to keep quiet in between the shows, do this, do that.

CHARLIE ROSE: She had that kind of influence?

ROBERT PLANT: She was really quite amazing, yeah, because she didn`t do that for herself.

CHARLIE ROSE: She was a -- exactly, I was going to say, I mean.

ROBERT PLANT: No, but for me, she said, no, no, come on, cool it, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: Why was it? Did she have this thing for you, or what?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, if there was a thing, I can`t remember it, but that would be quite per se, I suppose. But no, she was just kind, and she knew I was quite naive. And I was so in love with the whole idea of this great movement of energy and artistry and hope. And she was -- you know, for all intents and purposes, you would have said that she was the queen of the whole movement.

CHARLIE ROSE: `60s was the greatest decade?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, for me, it was. Yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because you had hope. Because you believed that everything was going to change.


CHARLIE ROSE: Because you believed that there was a force, you know, in music and in civil rights and literature, in everything.

ROBERT PLANT: And it was much -- I think maybe there was more responsibility, whether it was known or thought of, considered to be a responsibility, but I think that music played a bigger part -- much bigger part in the whole sort of development and -- of awareness at that time. And I think now, we`re in a hugely -- much more of a spread of music, which is coming at us from every single angle, and maybe part of the beauty and the mystique of music and the musician and the muse itself has gone, because we`re all there now trying to get on your show or trying to -- you know, the Stones played, you know, on the Upper West Side on the balcony of some place, Lincoln Center -- or whatever it was -- to announce a tour. I mean, you never did that sort of thing in those days. You just -- the whole thing had its own legs.

CHARLIE ROSE: What countries have influenced you? I know you love Morocco. Why Morocco?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, many years ago I went on a vacation with my wife, and it`s three hours from the United Kingdom to Marrakech, and it`s 3,000 years behind, sideways, or it`s three years ahead. Every street and every alley in the medina has got ambition, and it`s forward thinking, or it`s -- you turn -- it`s fantastic. It`s the most amazing melange, again, of so many fantastic ideas and so much artistry and music and clamor and humor and kindness, and much maligned and hardly understood by a lot of English people, who -- but it`s now becoming, I suppose, you know, quite chic and shi-shi to get off to Marrakech.

But over the -- you go over the Atlas Mountains and into the sort of pre-Sahara, and you leave the kind of Arab world behind and you go into the world of the Berber, the people who were there in the beginning, you know. And it`s just a phenomenally warm experience, and I`m very pleased to have found that, you know, in the middle of all the chaos and all the years and all that stuff.

CHARLIE ROSE: How long do you stay there when you go?

ROBERT PLANT: Maybe a month.


ROBERT PLANT: Or maybe a week, or, you know...

CHARLIE ROSE: You go in the spring?

ROBERT PLANT: Yes, spring is the best time to go.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s what I hear.


CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me about some of the songs you have here. Just stop me when you want to talk about any of them. "Another Tribe," "Shine It All Around."

ROBERT PLANT: Well, "Another Tribe" is the opening title. It`s -- I`m asking the question, how can the meek inherit all the Earth when we are absolutely bombarded from left, right and center, from the chaos and the sort of effects of greed, and I suppose suspicion.

CHARLIE ROSE: Suspicion?

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, between -- the lack of trust between peoples, and racism, religions and so on.

CHARLIE ROSE: Comes out a lot of that out of fear, insecurity.


CHARLIE ROSE: "Shine It All Around."

ROBERT PLANT: "Shine It All Around" is a song that has been quite big on the radio here and in the United Kingdom. And actually, I found out today we`re number one in Malta, thanks to that.



CHARLIE ROSE: How did that happen?

ROBERT PLANT: I heard a giggle in the background.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, in the green room. Somebody`s thrilled that you`re number one.

ROBERT PLANT: How did that happen? I think I have got family out there.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, all right. OK, "Freedom Fries" is the 9/11 song.

ROBERT PLANT: Well, I think that it`s not so much 9/11. That would be far too vague. It`s the fact that Blair has made decisions on behalf of -- in a democracy, on behalf of people, and he`s now been called to answer for them. In the general election last week, he -- the huge majority that they -- the Labour Party, the new Labour Party had is reduced to such a degree that now they`re.

CHARLIE ROSE: He`s got 61 seats or -- I think.

ROBERT PLANT: Which is great normally, but I mean.

CHARLIE ROSE: A majority, but more than Thatcher or John Major had.

ROBERT PLANT: Exactly that, yeah, but the thing is, the climate in Britain, there`s no trust.


ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, and we want -- everybody wants to know where the truth has been and how all these smoke screens have appeared. And nobody knows what to do. The electorate on that day, everybody was saying to each other, "well, you know, the Conservative guy, we don`t trust him. The Liberal Democrat, he`s a good guy, but we don`t know what they`ve got to offer, and Blair, he`s a statesman." But people are beginning to think that he`s ridden roughshod over the national opinion.

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, there are reports coming out now that the Labour is in revolt against him in part, and wanting him to designate a time that he`s going to leave.

ROBERT PLANT: Exactly right.

CHARLIE ROSE: . and make it sooner rather than later.

ROBERT PLANT: Yes. And if Gordon Brown isn`t the natural successor, then there could be chaos within the party. But the back bench is...

CHARLIE ROSE: Oh, Gordon Brown, I would assume he is going to be the successor, wouldn`t you? I mean.

ROBERT PLANT: I would think so, yes.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because they`ve campaigned side by side.


CHARLIE ROSE: Probably if he hadn`t done that, he would not have done nearly as well.

ROBERT PLANT: But if you think about it, the whole twist of this is, is that the infighting that has been there within the party and within -- between Brown and Blair has been quite something. And the -- what you would loosely call the sort of spin doctors and the machinery that`s been used to give the British public an idea in advance, which has been manipulated by Blair for such a long time, is now turning on him. So the headlines in the Sunday paper -- and these are broadsheets that, you know, are quite cerebral -- are just saying that, you know, that finally the mechanism that he`s created and nurtured is now saying, enough.

CHARLIE ROSE: You mean the spin machine?


CHARLIE ROSE: All of that.

ROBERT PLANT: And the guys who are pulling the strings behind this machine, you know, now they`re feeding it into the media, and it`s working against him rather than for him.

CHARLIE ROSE: But did you, did you, as a citizen, did you vote?


CHARLIE ROSE: Did you feel like you had any alternative, I mean, because on balance.?




CHARLIE ROSE: You thought you had an alternative?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, there were two elections running side by side. There was a local election, depending upon which area of the country you were in, and there are independent, you know, MPs, members of parliament, who do actually and are proactive within the communities, number one. And on the national level, you know, there is only so many gray areas that you can take before you have to just use your vote to reduce a majority.

CHARLIE ROSE: Early on, I mean, I think this is true, you kind of combined sort of the soul of rhythm and blues, which you heard in Memphis and the Delta, with something coming out of sort of West Coast psychedelic, and fused them together?


CHARLIE ROSE: The lyrics came from San Francisco and from.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, yeah. Well, it was that era that we were talking about, that generation of good intent. And, I mean, my lyrics were always -- I never really had a great deal of self-esteem, I suppose, about it. But occasionally, it worked. And the rest of the time, it syncopated some pretty hard music.

CHARLIE ROSE: You may not want to do this, but I beg you to do it for me. Tell me what your 10 favorite rock n` roll songs are. Just what comes off the top of your head.

ROBERT PLANT: OK. "Big Hunk of Love," Elvis Presley.

CHARLIE ROSE: "Big Hunk of Love?"


CHARLIE ROSE: All right.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, yeah, "Big Hunk of Love," just before he went in the Army, 1958. Fantastic song.

I think I would have to say "Smokestack Lightning" by Howlin` Wolf. It`s not really rock n` roll, but it was the basis of a lot, so much beautiful, extravagant music. And we hammed it up, trying to get as black as we could. And as they say in England, the miss is as good as a mile. But occasionally we got there, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s good.

ROBERT PLANT: I think you got -- it`s all American for me. I think "The Rumble" by Link Wray, and the Ray Men, was a big instrumental.

I think Dion, who was from New York, had some fantastic music. He had a song called "Lovers Who Wonder," which is on -- whatever label it was.

If I go to the West Coast, there were a lot of bands out there. I think Jefferson`s Airplane "White Rabbit" was really strong.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did you know Grace Slick?


CHARLIE ROSE: You never knew Grace Slick?


CHARLIE ROSE: What else comes to mind?

ROBERT PLANT: There was a group from California, from L.A. called Love, with Arthur Lee, and he made us an album called "Forever Changes," and there was a song called "A House Is Not a Motel."

CHARLIE ROSE: But I am fascinated by this -- I`m not sure this is selection -- if I had asked "Rolling Stone" magazine to commission me and to tell me what the 10 biggest rock n` roll songs of all time are, they would have 10 others.

ROBERT PLANT: Oh, absolutely, yeah.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Dylan would be number one probably.

ROBERT PLANT: Well, Dylan`s got to be -- "One More Cup of Coffee" I think.


ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, from Dylan, I think it`s such a fantastic song. And he`s -- I mean, you ask me, I forget, how can I forget about Dylan`s contribution when he was the guy who woke us all up? He took the sort of.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because the lyrics were authentic, or.?

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah, well, I mean, there was a reactionary musical scene on the college circuit with Ramblin` Jack Elliott, Woodie Guthrie, Odetta, you know, Dave Van Ronk, people who were around, but Dylan made it sexy, and he also brought it home in such a vital way. Can you imagine, that great -- there`s a great thing on Broadway now, "Hairspray."

CHARLIE ROSE: Oh, yeah, yeah, right.

ROBERT PLANT: And the thing is that the great end to that program, that great moment is that after all the rock n` roll and the Philadelphia sound, with Cameo/Parkway, Bobby Rydell, all that stuff. Suddenly, you cut to a room and there`s a guy sitting there playing an acoustic guitar, singing the first protest song, and that`s the end of the show. Because it`s the end of the era of the schmooze and the schmaltz, you know, and it`s the beginning of that sort of reflective social conscience.

So Dylan, yeah, you`re right. Yeah. He sang some songs -- I don`t know how he actually survived the way that he sang about the lynchings in Oxford, Mississippi and, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: He was a true poet.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah. He wouldn`t like anybody to say that.

CHARLIE ROSE: I know. And why not? Just because.

ROBERT PLANT: Just because it`s been awkward.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s what I think. What are you proudest about from -- I want to get to today -- but from Led Zeppelin?

ROBERT PLANT: Proudest of. I think the variety of music and the constant intention to stimulate ourselves rather than going after the kind of the beautiful underbelly full of greenbacks. And I think that was the thing about the band, was that we -- we went off places that I suppose now, with the history of the band becoming part of kind of American pop culture, people see it now as an established entity. But at the time, every turn that we made was -- it wasn`t even risky, because it didn`t matter. If you don`t do what you`re supposed to do, you shouldn`t be there, you know.

So I think it was the perseverance for change, and to stimulate ourselves rather than, you know, to join the cut and thrust of an era. And maybe that`s why there`s some -- it retains its popularity, because it is such a variety of music.

CHARLIE ROSE: Bonham`s death, you still feel the pain of that?

ROBERT PLANT: Well, you know, it`s American TV. I mean, the pain -- I felt pain through my life, you know. And his passing was -- was such a waste, you know. Twenty-five years in September since he passed away.

CHARLIE ROSE: He was 30?

ROBERT PLANT: He was 32.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thirty-two. Twenty-five years.

ROBERT PLANT: Yes. And so, that was the end of everything, really, as far as our kind of combination as a four-piece band. There was no real -- because everybody`s contribution was so critical for the thing to make sense. You know, there was no point in going anywhere else and drafting anybody else in. You know, it`s OK to redress and enjoy the music individually, but to actually call a group Led Zeppelin without his power would be folly, really. But there is -- it`s not pain now. It`s just.

CHARLIE ROSE: I know, it`s -- I didn`t phrase the question well. But the idea was that -- you don`t forget something like that.

ROBERT PLANT: It`s -- exactly.

CHARLIE ROSE: . because it`s so central to your life.

ROBERT PLANT: And it`s a vacuum. And more -- and probably most importantly, above all things, is that he and I started playing together when we were 15.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, I know.

ROBERT PLANT: And we -- we were so obnoxious in the town that we lived, or where we worked a lot, that people would see the two of us coming down the street, and they`d cross the road to avoid us.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is that right?

ROBERT PLANT: Because we were so busy telling everybody how good we were, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: That`s great.

ROBERT PLANT: We could clear a room very quickly.

CHARLIE ROSE: Just by telling them how good you were.

ROBERT PLANT: Exactly, yeah, and...

CHARLIE ROSE: And trying to show them.

ROBERT PLANT: Not even showing them, just pursuing it for a couple of hours.

CHARLIE ROSE: Oh, that`s great, you know. And today, this album.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah. This album is a place I could never have believed that I could have found. Quite honestly, it`s an absolute moment for me in my -- all my life of being -- trying to be creative, because the whole thing works. The combination of music, lyric, vocal, and the intention of each song. There`s no slack. There`s nothing to do with trying to join the big time again, trying to get back into some kind of groove, you know. It`s just about being in the right place again after a long time of considering and trying and, you know....

CHARLIE ROSE: What`s the right place?

ROBERT PLANT: Symmetry. Some kind of cohesive state, where music and lyric and the whole lot comes together, and it`s a sort of -- it`s not a compromise on any level at all, you know. You can`t sing songs about love at 56 years old without really scrutinizing how you actually deliver this, because you`ve been around a while. You know, so it`s a good place to be. I`m very pleased to be there.

CHARLIE ROSE: Good for you. I should mention two people. One is Ahmet Ertegun. You were on Atlantic Records.


CHARLIE ROSE: The Rolls Royce of recording contracts.

ROBERT PLANT: Exactly right. Well, you know, John Bonham and I were very green. We were very young. We were 19 when we actually began rehearsing with what was to become Led Zeppelin. When our management and Jimmy Page came to New York, they saw several different, you know, record companies, and ultimately, the tapes and the deal was done with Atlantic. And when they came back and said, you know, that we were now going to be Atlantic artists, I think I cried. Because never mind the Stacks period and that sort of thing, it`s just the whole idea of Ahmet and Jerry and Arif and all -- the whole deal -- I mean, to have Phil Spector as a house producer on all those early Drifters -- not early, early `60s Drifters records, and all that fantastic sound.

You know, when you become an obsessive musical character, you start quoting B sides and matrix numbers of vinyl, and you can do -- it`s an insane place to be. My girlfriend, when I go past a shop that`s got some serious vinyl, she just looks at me and says, "shoes," and goes. But I mean, so if I go back to them, the idea of being on a label that had had Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, you know.

CHARLIE ROSE: And Brother Ray.

ROBERT PLANT: And Brother Ray, Ray, yeah. Yeah. What a guy.

CHARLIE ROSE: Your last cut here.

ROBERT PLANT: Yeah. Well, you know, I didn`t see Ray Charles when he came to England in I think it was 1960, after "What`d I Say" came out. I was 12 years old then and I was too young to go to see him, just too young. But I`ve seen him a few times since then, and he went in through the kind of modernizing (ph) country and western. He got sweet, he had an orchestra. But sometimes he really let it go again, and those sounds that he did with Ahmet, with the Raylettes, I mean, it -- how can Anglo-Saxon people get moved so much by something they don`t even understand?

So the last cut on the album is a sort of farewell to Brother Ray. And it sounds like some piano playing taking place somewhere in the back streets of Morocco mixed with a little bit of gospel chant.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you for coming.

ROBERT PLANT: It`s a great pleasure.

CHARLIE ROSE: Really, the pleasure is mine.

ROBERT PLANT: I`m very pleased to have been here. Thank you.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you.

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Yes I saw this one on YouTube and it was great.

I'm not the biggest Robert Plant fan, but I think everyone should give him a break. He sees himself as an evolving artist, and he is pursuing that goal. If that doesn't fit in with what we want from him, that's a shame, but he has already given us so much, he owes us nothing more. Anything we get (o2 arena) is a bonus.

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Yes I saw this one on YouTube and it was great.

I'm not the biggest Robert Plant fan, but I think everyone should give him a break. He sees himself as an evolving artist, and he is pursuing that goal. If that doesn't fit in with what we want from him, that's a shame, but he has already given us so much, he owes us nothing more. Anything we get (o2 arena) is a bonus.

The Robert Plant "Led Zeppelin" has no peers . . . .

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