It is commonly considered the greatest rock song of all time, a riot broke out once when they didn’t play it live, people have conspired satanic messages and messages from god by manipulating the song and lyrics. It was the song that gave them the respect they deserved all along; it was “Stairway to Heaven.”
It is hard, if not impossible to consider any band greater than Led Zeppelin, even their works that received less praise are some of the best albums in the entire genre of classic rock, they are hands down the greatest rock band of all time.
After joining The Yard Birds, Jimmy Page was soon left without a band as they broke up in 1968. Someone once joked that Page starting a band would crash like a Led Zeppelin, the greatest retort ever, Led Zeppelin. Within two years Zeppelin had three amazing albums, but it wasn’t until 1971 when “Led Zeppelin Four” was released did people finally realized just how great Led Zeppelin really was, this was when “Stairway to Heaven,” hit the airwaves. Stairway broke the expectation of what a hit song could be, it was eight minutes in length considerably longer than any number one hit song on popular radio before then, and unlike most lengthy songs Stairway was not edited for radio play. The producers were almost afraid to touch the song for they knew the celestial greatest their ears beheld.
Stairway to Heaven is in all aspects a perfect song. Stairway is long and elaborate, the instrumental, most notable Jimmy Page’s guitar strikes a variety of combinations over the eight minute adventure, sounds so beautiful and never heard before, and even now, never recreated. Also the message and meaning of the song is deep and mysterious, as stated earlier people have tried to dissect both godly and satanic messages from Stairway, a true poet runs the risk of having his words warped, which is the price to pay if you really want to make an emotional connection with others. The fact that Stairway could touch such a violent variety of spiritual thinkers in such a powerful way truly makes the point of just how effective the song is at touching the human soul. I honestly believe if you want to dissect the song you will find J.R.R. Tolkien overtones. “In my thoughts I have seen, Rings of smoke through the trees,” this is almost an exact quote from Tolkien, describing the hobbits knowing Gandalf is coming because they can see his pipe smoke above the trees. Still I like the fact this song brings out such strong emotions in everyone.
I knew a day would come when I would feel obligated to talk about Stairway, it was a song that could not be ignored, but still what is there to say? It’s the greatest song of all time? It may well be that but most everyone already knows that, and most everyone already knows that Zeppelin is so much more than just this one song. Still it felt necessary to point to the high standard set by Stairway and simply remind myself and the music in review this is what other musicians aspires too, it’s what I aspire to as well, we all aspire to greatness, and if there was one word to describe Stairway I think that’s it, greatness.
I’m reminded of what Merlin said in “Excalibur,” “That's it... and look upon this moment. Savour it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, 'I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!' For it is the doom of men that they forget.” I really like that movie. This music in review is a reminder of something you already knew, dare you forget it, ever.
- Colin Kelly