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But it carries on, it flickers through, it has its moments.” For a rock superstar, Plant is very easy company, full of energy, laughter, enthusiasm and informal friendliness.
For the most part, the priapic Golden God of old draws upon “the restraint and quietude” he learned while singing with the bluegrass artist Alison Krauss on 2007’s Grammy-grabbing album, Raising Sand.
Quotidian as our co-ordinates are, they have resonance: my interviewee says that it was 800 yards from where we are sitting that he first saw Bukka White and Son House, and of course it was at another Hyatt – the one on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles that Zeppelin dubbed “The Riot House” – that much of the debauchery linked to the band allegedly took place back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Today, there will be no riding of motorcycles down hotel corridors, just Plant, now almost 66, enthusing about works by Rubens and Caravaggio he recently saw in Dresden, or telling how he once disturbed Bob Dylan putting a sock on to ask him about “Spider” John Koerner.
Lunch is a sandwich grabbed from the deli across the road.
He grumbles, with much humour, about having “an IT nightmare” because his laptop has crashed with files of his band jamming that he intended to use to write new songs.
As the gritty, febrile “Turn It Up” details, Plant’s sense of alienation didn’t dissipate when he drove east of Tunica, Mississippi, to commune with the ghosts of the Delta blues greats who first inspired him: “I’m lost inside America/ I’m turning inside out/ I’m turning into someone else/ I heard so much about/ I’m blinded by the neon/ the righteous and the might/ I’m stuck inside the radio/ Turn it on and let me out.” “Patty and I tried a sort of zig-zag across the Atlantic,” says Plant, “but she didn’t share my penchant for cider and she used to marvel at the Black Country character I became after four pints of Thatchers.