“So many things have happened.”What’s happened most recently is Plant’s 10th solo album, Lullaby and... “It’s my life; it’s all of our lives, really,” he says, when quizzed about its title.
The record sees him backed by The Sensational Space Shifters, a sonic brains-trust now augmented by the new recruit Juldeh Camera, a Gambian griot and ritti (single-string fiddle) virtuoso.
Quotidian as our co-ordinates are, they have resonance: my interviewee says that it was 800 yards from where we are sitting that he first saw Bukka White and Son House, and of course it was at another Hyatt – the one on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles that Zeppelin dubbed “The Riot House” – that much of the debauchery linked to the band allegedly took place back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Today, there will be no riding of motorcycles down hotel corridors, just Plant, now almost 66, enthusing about works by Rubens and Caravaggio he recently saw in Dresden, or telling how he once disturbed Bob Dylan putting a sock on to ask him about “Spider” John Koerner.
“I walked past this guy sitting in a fold-out chair reading a music magazine, and it had a photo of us as nubiles. He said, ‘That’s Led Zeppelin.’ I said, ‘Ah, okay – and who’s that guy?
For the most part, the priapic Golden God of old draws upon “the restraint and quietude” he learned while singing with the bluegrass artist Alison Krauss on 2007’s Grammy-grabbing album, Raising Sand.
Songs such as “Embrace Another Fall”, the extraordinary piano ballad “A Stolen Kiss”, and “House of Love” (“Leaving was so hard,” it begins) are key, Plant addressing his 2013 break-up with the US folk singer Patty Griffin.
’ He said, ‘That’s Robert Plant.’ I said, ‘What does he look like now?
’ The guy shrugged his shoulders, so I lifted my sunglasses and said, ‘Look!
Plant is a relaxed and attentive conversationalist, not one for protocol.
“It must be strange for you to wonder what you’re going to say to a guy like me,” he says at one point.