Technically, ?Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was written by California folk singer Anne Bredon and initially covered by fellow folkie Joan Baez. But the song first received wide attention after the classic rock band put a rendition of the tune on its eponymous debut album, and Cyrus’ version clearly takes its primary cue from Zeppelin’s iconic loud-quiet-loud bluesy stomp.
Had Cyrus’s take on the song been terrible, this story would be relatively simple: ?Pop Tart Releases Hideous Zeppelin Cover, Should Be Ashamed Of Herself.” However, there’s a problem with that narrative. The young woman who spent much of the past year embroiled in controversy over having the temerity to teach people over the age of 40 what twerking was actually does a mean Robert Plant.
The following is basically how the Internet is going to react to this:
- Rockist geezers (and rockist geezers trapped inside the bodies of young-ish music snobs) will hate the entire thing on principle and refuse to listen. They will post articles about the song to Facebook, adding commentary like, ?Sacrilege!” or ?I wish Facebook had a dislike button!”
- Cyrus’ younger fans will listen out of obligation, shrug their shoulders, and decide the track kind of sounds like all the old records their dads put on when they go out into the garage and act like everyone doesn’t know they’re just smoking pot and looking at old high school yearbooks.
- At least a few people will take the opportunity to listen to Cyrus’ deftly atmospheric cover of the Smiths’ ?There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” if only because I just included a link to it in this very sentence.
- Writers will pen thinkpieces about how unintentionally apt it is that Cyrus, who was excoriated for her appropriation of African- American culture over the whole twerking episode, chose a cover made famous by a band who basically stole all of their best ideas from other, generally black, artists. These thinkpieces will ignore that popular music is essentially little more than an endless cycle of tiny innovations largely based on theft both across and within various musical genres. The #hottest of these #takes will go viral, but none of them will be even a fraction as interesting as how Cyrus’ full-throated yelps interact with the distorted guitars in the chorus.
- A few months down the line, an interviewer will ask Robert Plant what he thought about the cover. Running his hands through his long, flowing locks, Plant will pause for a minute before saying something along the lines of, ?Yeah, I heard that one. I thought it was pretty good.” He will then mention the cover of ?Stairway to Heaven” Heart performed in his honor at the Kennedy Center as something else he quite enjoyed.
- Three to five years later, Cyrus will trot out this cover at a live show, the video of which will go viral though whatever smartwatch rectal implants people use to share the #hottest #content in three to five years.
- Everything else will continue on as normal, as if we didn’t all suddenly live in a world where the former star of Hannah Montana put out an extremely solid Led Zeppelin cover.