When I was in love with Simon LeBon in elementary school, I spiked my hair to look like his. Since my mother wouldn’t allow me to shave little hair squares into my head like Cyndi Lauper had in the “Time After Time” video, I had to make do with tying junky, hairspray-soaked rags into my spiky hair to try to replicate Cyndi’s and Madonna’s thrift store slut look. And it looked pretty good on my 13-year-old self! Many years later, at age 27, Led Zeppelin inspired me to dye my hair black. And my mother couldn’t say a word about it.
My entire Led Zeppelin collection consists of a bunch of boxed sets and other compilations, so I have never heard proper albums like Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti. My experience with Zeppelin started by hearing them on the radio station I listened to when I was a kid. It used to play Top 40 stuff, but when I was in high school something called classic rock was born and my channel switched formats. I heard a lot of the stuff I already liked—The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix—but also AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Led Zeppelin, bands I knew of, but since my mother had none of that stuff in her record collection I had heard little of that music. But when I heard it, I dug the shit out of it.
My uncle bought me the 1990 Led Zeppelin boxed set for Christmas. And I bought myself the next one in 1993. Both of these collections are brilliant, of course, but the BBC Sessions set from 1997 is the most interesting to me. I love hearing early versions of now-familiar songs, and getting acquainted with material that had never been released. “The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” is so fantastic, so catchy, so much fun to sing along with, and I cannot believe it was never released. It’s bluesy and dirty and sexy. This woman is fucking his shit up, but he just can’t get her off his mind. Robert Plant screams with orgasmic decadence throughout, and you desperately want him inside you. It’s my favorite Zeppelin song. And it inspired me to dye my long brown wavy hair black.
The first time I tried to color my hair I used the temporary stuff because I didn’t want to fuck up my hair and have it all fall out. And it was temporary indeed—it lasted about a day. I used stuff that was supposed to give a reddish tint. My natural hair is dark brown, so the red really only showed up if I was in the right light, but that was fine because I didn’t want to make a drastic change. Since it washed out right away I decided it wasn’t for me.
I tried it again a year or two later, this time with black. It was still temporary, but it stayed for about a week. I did it for my birthday, and I wanted a change this time, though I was still not willing to use the hard stuff. But I loved the way it looked.
I finally took the plunge and went all in with Féria. It looked pretty good, but I wanted more shine for my blah hair. I think I tried Garnier Nutrisse next, which was better for my hair but the color was not quite right. I finally settled on Nice ‘n Easy’s Natural Blue Black. Shiny and dark and fabulous! Exactly like the girl in the song that Robert Plant is bustin’ his nut for.
What woman doesn’t want a hot rock star with a sexy rock & roll scream lusting after her? I have always been obsessed with celebrities, and in August of 2000 when I jumped into a new look I had been in love with one David Eric Grohl, founder of my favorite band, Foo Fighters, for almost a year. Knowing that Dave also loves Zeppelin, I would often think of him when I listened to their music. Whenever I heard “The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” I would imagine myself as such a girl, Dave’s girl, sitting in on recording sessions for the next Foo album. I was 27 years old and dreaming of marrying a rock star. And I ain’t ashamed! This was pretty much all I thought about. I had very elaborate fantasies about how things were going to happen. I had seen them in concert for the first time the month before, and I remember writing an extraordinarily detailed letter to my best friend about how I planned to meet Dave after the show and make him fall in love with me. Sadly, that did not happen. Still, I had big dreams and knew that someday, I would make him mine—oh yes, he would be mine.
The image I had in my head most often was of Dave and me in his studio in his home recording studio in Virginia. The Foos were recording a new album (or the soundtrack to a movie I had written and was starring in—it could be either depending on my mood) and I was sitting in with them and maybe singing back-up a little, or suggesting lyrics or sounds and shit—you know, without all the Yoko-ness. Although I did always picture myself wearing a black turtleneck like Yoko on that famous cover of Rolling Stone where John is naked. Hmm. Anyway, I always had very shiny, very long black wavy hair in this scenario. My hair was not terribly long at the time, maybe shoulder-length. I had very long hair in high school, and I trimmed it in college, then cut it very short when I was about 21. I definitely look better with long hair.
Dave and I were not yet married in this fantasy, but we definitely had plans for it. The other Foos loved me as I loved them, and it was one big happy Foo family! I’m not sure why my hair was so important to this fantasy, but it was. I pictured us alone in the studio at times, after the rest of the band had gone for the evening, just Dave and me enjoying each other’s company, maybe writing some songs together, falling more deeply in love with each other every day. Dave always had a black t-shirt on, and he was clean-shaven back then, his hair still pretty short. I first noticed how cute he is when he had no facial hair, but now I prefer him with longer hair and the beard and mustache he’s had for the past few years. We were perfect together.
I guess I thought that my hair would somehow lure him in, maybe reminding him of the Zeppelin song and helping him realize that I am the woman for him, even though the girl in the song is a mean, mistreatin’ baby, and I would never do my man wrong. 12 years and countless boxes of Nice ‘n Easy later, I’m still the girl with long black kind-of-wavy-but-not-as-thick hair, and I’m still in love with Dave. He’s ruined me for all others.
Well, my baby when
She shakes just like a willow tree
Yes, she does