Robert Plant has been making the press rounds behind his latest album, Lullabye … and the Ceaseless Roar, this week. Like many of the former Led Zeppelin frontman’s works, it explores his love of the folk and blues tradition (instrumentation includes: bendirs, djembe, tehardan, kologo, ritti), but unlike his previous album, 2010’s Band Of Joy, it signals not his arrival to Texas, but his departure.
Alas, it’s clear from the interviews he’s been giving this week that Plant has pulled up his Austin stakes and returned to his homeland of England. Plant tells Vulture that his time in Austin came to an end recently after his collaborators in the U.S. faded.
I was very fortunate to enjoy great friendships in Austin, which I sadly miss. I found their hospitality and charm in Austin second to none. But I was yearning for a musical project. My work with American musicians has faltered and come to a natural, suitable finale. My family was saying, “Where has he gone?” And I was thinking, Where have I gone? I’d gone to sea. So I had to come back.
That’s bad news for those who had hoped that the frontman for one of the most significant acts in rock and roll history might return to the 550-capacity Continental Club for another benefit show with one-time paramour Patty Griffin—but Plant’s departure wasn’t, he tells The Independent, a result of their rumored (and now confirmed) breakup.
“Patty and I tried a sort of zig-zag across the Atlantic,” says Plant, “but she didn’t share my penchant for cider and she used to marvel at the Black Country character I became after four pints of Thatchers. My feelings are very much ones of sadness and regret, but I also disturbed myself. I had to come back [to Worcestershire] to find out just how much I valued what I’d left behind – it’s an old song, I guess.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Plant might return to Austin from time to time (presumably mostly on tour with his new outfit, The Sensational Space Shifters), but if he does, don’t expect to bump into him at Whole Foods. As Vulture learned, he’s more a Fiesta man. “Whole Foods is more of a dating agency than a shop,” he told the outlet’s Lane Brown. “If you’re gonna go shopping for food in Austin, go to Fiesta, the supermarket with a difference. You can get a pork enchilada there whilst picking up some British tomato ketchup and some teabags, and you can do the whole transaction in Spanish.” Fair enough, good sir—and ramble on.