LoveSong – Eli Braden and The Crunge

So, there’s a relatively new feature at The AV Club called HateSong, where people (often musicians, but not always) pick one song to soak in their dripping bile and contempt.  The songs range from classic Christmas tunes to recent-ish hits, from hard rock to sacred cows.  Many of these hate songs are usually beloved by at least some segment of the population.

I like the feature just fine.  Some people give long, entertaining arguments, while others are just boringly pissy for a few paragraphs about a piece of music they don’t like.

The overall tone of the feature is (surprise, surprise) negative.

I thought it might be nice to invert the feature, and ask people to talk about a song they love that might not be popular with a lot of folks — take the hate for a song, and replace it with love, I suppose.

And so, we come to the first installment of LoveSong!


The lover: 

Eli Braden is a writer, musician, and comedian living in Los Angeles, California.  He is a frequent contributor to The Howard Stern Show. He has written for Jimmy Kimmel Live, Upload With Shaquille O’Neal, and Fashion Police With Joan Rivers. He frequently posts jokes to Twitter at @elibraden.  His most recent album, Elevator in the Brain Hotel, is available on iTunes.


The loved: Led Zeppelin, “The Crunge” (1973)



I was never a Led Zeppelin fan growing up. I was caught up in the new wave and post-new wave world of The Smiths, The Cure and Depeche Mode, and “classic rock” of any kind (other than my always-beloved Beatles) was useless dinosaur dung in my book.

That of course changed in my late teens, when I started smoking pot.

I don’t remember how or why I acquired it, but ‘Houses of the Holy’ was the first Zep album I got into – and to this day I maintain it’s their best (other than the execrable ‘D’yer Mak’er’, which despite an exceptionally clever title is my least favorite song in LZ’s catalog).

‘The Crunge’ is the oddest song on an already odd album, and it actually stands out as possibly the oddest song in Led Zeppelin’s entire oeuvre. It is, essentially, The World’s Greatest Rock Band at the height of their powers taking a psychedelic stab at writing a James Brown funk jam (and if THAT description doesn’t make you want to listen, I don’t know what will!). And – on top of it all – IT ROCKS – incomprehensible time-signature changes and all!

What else? Um, how about big, beef-n-cheesy 1970s synthesizer lead lines (totally incongruous!) courtesy of Mr. John Paul Jones?  And beneath that, John Bonham and Jimmy Page sounding like they’re playing 2 completely different songs … HOW DOES IT WORK? I dunno, but I guess somehow it does!

Best of all is the ending. Echoing James Brown’s tradition of calling out mid-song when the band should go to the bridge section, Robert Plant attempts a similar trick. However, the bridge never comes, despite Plant’s pleas. Suddenly, the band seemingly falls apart, and the last thing we hear is someone (presumably a recording engineer) saying sternly “WHERE IS THAT CONFOUNDED BRIDGE??” I friggin’ love it.


I was checking out the Wikipedia page for this song, and it would appear that John Paul Jones is quite fond of “The Crunge” while he strongly dislikes “D’yer Mak’er”, so you are in full alignment with Mr. Jones!   I brought up this song for you because I myself have always kind of had a problem with the song, and not necessarily because it’s universally disparaged.  (I’m a little embarrassed to say I always liked “D’yer Mak’er”, though I could see why one could hate it). But, I’m curious — did you have buddies who would disparage “The Crunge” — someone listening to HotH with you who said, “turn that crap off!”?  What’s been your experience with fellow Zeppelin fans?  Are most you have met for/against/neutral regarding it?


In my experience, most people kind of look at ‘The Crunge’ as, at best, a time-wasting joke, or, at worst, a blemish in Led Zep’s catalog.  For years I LOVED the song and thought it was awesome and funky and cool and had no idea most fans had some kind of negative association with the track!


Many thanks to Eli for offering his love for a somewhat-unloved Zeppelin song!

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