By gosh I’d rather neither.
Symbolically speaking anyway. The status quo is always worth rebelling against, but then, an endeavour as doomed as a lead Zeppelin isn’t exactly a viable alternative.
Musically, of course, there’s no competition. I prefer songs made up of more than three chords, as a rule. (Idle aside: One of my finest heckles as a school child was when my history teacher tried to set himself up for lame gag. He was talking about how conservatism is largely founded on maintaining ‘something reminiscent of bland bands with only three chords and too much denim’. I responded, with the best comic tones I could muster (and they were perfect tones, I assure) ‘What; Coldplay?’. It was funnier if you were there, I swear).
Anyway, somehow I never really got that deep into Led Zeppelin, but they remain one of those bands where I often hear the music, approve deeply, ask what it is, and establish that it’s Led Zep, and I know where I stand. When I hear Status Quo on the other hand, I know immediately who I’m listening to (and I rapidly become unhappy…unless it’s Don’t Stop, in which case I smile because of memories…and then wince, because of memories).
Let’s go back to the symbolism, because I expect we’ll have more interesting things to say.
It should be fairly clear that I’m a big fan of change. Not necessarily just for changes sake (for example, I’m generally quite slow to adopt new tech, despite being a techoptimist), but I approve of change as a way of moving forward.
I don’t agree with keeping things the same for the sake of it, and if anyone says that the reason for a decision is ‘tradition’ then I generally want to rage and shout about it. (Interestingly, this doesn’t apply to ‘culture’ particularly food, art, theatre etc, where I have room for traditional styles as well as contemporary approaches).
So the status quo is generally something I fear. There’s that John Cage quote, in fact: ‘I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.’
I’m totally with him. There’s something worryingly disturbing about people who seek only to maintain current structures. Something to do with inertia and rot. It unnerves me, makes me think of vested interest and corruption.
But then, if the alternative is a lead balloon?
Well. Maybe there’s a way to make it work. If the lead is thin enough, or the aim is the bottom of the sea (is a bathysphere that far off a lead zeppelin? A bad idea can be a good idea in the wrong context). And there’s definitely hope in building new solutions.
Hope in the useless may not be ideal, but you’re going to learn something from even the most dramatic failures.
And is it worth it for the potential that you just might fly?
Better to try and fly then crash spectacularly than listen to status quo?
Illustration by Kristian.