Traveling salesman blues: Led Zeppelin singer makes cameo in UK indie comedy

If you don’t count a constantly evolving musical style, British singer and recording artist Robert Plant doesn’t do a lot of weird stuff in public. But he seems to make exceptions.

The former Led Zeppelin singer is making a cameo appearance in a UK indie movie featuring a Doreen, a character originating from an off-color Youtube spoof on misuse of social security. Played by actress Gill Jordan, Doreen has become something of a cultural phenomenon spawning theater plays around The Black Country, a West Midlands area known for its history of coal mines and heavy industries.

In a clip posted by the maker of the crowdfunded film, Plant’s character appears to be a traveling salesman offering tarmac for Doreen’s driveway. In his distinctive eloquent style, the singer expresses distress at being told to leave. He manages to provide his business card with the slogan “Driveway to Heaven” for his company Black Dog Tarmac Ltd. Sourly exiting the scene with a bucket of “the finest bitumen in the land”, Plant grumbles that “there has to be an easier way to make ends meet”.

In reality, Mr. Plant’s estimated net worth of more than $150 million offers the Black Country native a fair amount of artistic freedom. Such liberties include declining astronomical offers for further Led Zeppelin reunions, much to the dismay of at least the group’s guitarist/producer Jimmy Page. Plant told music magazine Mojo in a 2012 interview that he simply walked away, emotionally exhausted after Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion concert in London back in late 2007.

Anyone interested in artistic struggles could do worse than checking out Plant’s appearance on NPR’s Sound Opinions. The interview makes it abundantly clear that Plant, now in his late sixties, hates stagnation. Reliance on nostalgia he feels, is better left to many of his contemporaries.

Being averse to the idea of riding solely on the explosive and sometimes excessive success of Zeppelin doesn’t stop Mr. Plant reworking Led Zeppelin classics on stage, oftentimes in really good company. Additionally, critics seem to agree that Plant is on a roll with his recent production. His 2007 bluegrass record with Alison Krauss is splendid by any standard, as is last year’s solo effort “Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar”.

The video below features Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters in June 2015 at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee. The matter at hand is a magically electric reworking of the blues standard “Fixin’ to Die”.

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