I was just reading something and saw a particular sentence: “Led by Shen Mingxin, head of the village…”.
The word “Led” jumped out at me, likely because of the capital L called for as the first word in the sentence. It’s not often that I’ve seen the word “led” starting a sentence off. It tickled my wordplay nerve.
We all know about the band’s spelling twist on the word “Lead Zeppelin” and the whole Keith Moon suggestion. The band’s manager changed the name to prevent inevitable mispronunciations of “Leed Zeppelin”.
It never occured to me that the band’s name doesn’t necessarily have any unconventional spelling at all. “Led”, an adjective, as in the state resulting from the past-tense form of the verb “lead”. A Led Zeppelin, or a Guided Blimp. Given the related historical events of the Hindenberg, I suppose the name could be regarded as “an aircraft accompanied to its demise”, etc.
I know the word “Led” has some mystical undertones that Page probably had a ball with. What I think is supercool is to take it a tier deeper into the Hindenberg context, playing with the implications that the balloon’s “leader” — whether human or otherwise — didn’t necessarily intend for it to land safely. And we’re not necessarily talking about the Hindenberg in a literal sense. The Hindenberg is just a visual metaphor for for the more figurative idea of disaster. Throw “Led” into the equation, and you start tapping into the realm of metaphysical intention, inevitability, and fate.
Guided Disaster, if you will. Orchestrated Tragedy? Submissive Catastrophe? Induced Fiasco? I’ll even go so far as to say that “Led Zeppelin” is another way of saying “Shit Happens.” God, I love words. Maybe you’ve noticed.
I can’t be the first person who’s noticed this. While a couple of mystical hippie pals claim to have known this to be obvious all along, I’ve got other Zep friends who tell me I need to get a life. They’re probably all right.
In any case, one of the best band names ever conceived. What’s amusing is that most of the people who’d agree don’t even realize why.
“And you know sometimes words have two meanings.”
— Robert Plant