[1963] How The West Was Won

The opening track to Led Zeppelin’s 2003-released/1972-recorded live cut, How The West Was Won, is aptly titled “L.A. Drone” and it’s 15 seconds of crowd recordings that serves as a buffer from silence to the all out gut-punch that is Immigrant Song, the opening cut from Led Zeppelin III, released in 1970 as the third installment of Led Zeppelin’s four-part domination of psychedelia, hard rock, metal, folk from 1969 through 1972. The How The West Was Won soundboard-recorded and Jimmy Page produced record draws material from several concerts recorded straight to the mixing board in Los Angeles on the leg of Led Zeppelin’s 1972 tour of the United States. There is a zero percent chance that titling this album How The West Was Won is a coincidence of the most ironic standards.

The music album is almost certainly a reference to 1963’s loose compilation film of the same name.  Forty years before the music world got a taste of Led Zeppelin at their creative and artistic peak, the film sphere tracked a star-studded film documenting a series of decades from the early 1840s through the late 1880s. With a cast of 1960s most recognizable, including James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Carroll Baker, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne (and more!), How The West Was Won, the film, tells in film what Led Zeppelin did in song: a snippet of the epoch recorded for the history books. Though one is literally about westward expansion, the other’s metaphor for world takeover (and cementing themselves as one of the premier rock’n’roll bands of all time) is the logical expansion of the themes in the film. While our cast, littered with stars, makes its way from the regimented eastern seaboard out past the Mississippi to the left coast, the biggest rock band in the world crossed the brusque Atlantic to tour the United States and record was to become a composite concert album. Through the different media, we begin to understand the lore of The West and its place in Earth’s history. Continue reading