(Play the song while you read for better enjoyment :))
The wonderful thing about “Stairway” is the fact that just about everybody has got their own individual interpretation to it, and actually what it meant to them at their point of life. Over the passage of years people come to me with all manner of stories about what it meant to them at certain points of their lives. About how it’s got them through some really tragic circumstances … Because it’s an extremely positive song, it’s such a positive energy.
This quote from Jimmy Page made me want to write about songs I like, their stories and what they mean to me. Stairway to Heaven is the first one.
When I want music to be louder than my thoughts, I usually listen to Led Zeppelin. Stairway to Heaven is always a good choice for that purpose. I started listenning to Led Zeppelin during an exchange program I did in the US. I was in love with an American guy who said it was the greatest band of all time. He gave me a few songs and I instantly liked them. Stairway to Heaven became my favorite during a trip to New York city. It was a cold winter day and I was a bit homesick. I was about to walk out of a shop when the song started playing. It sounded so good that I had to stay in the shop until the end of the song, just to listen to it. It caught my attention because the beginning of the song is mellow and reassuring: it fitted my state of mind. But then the song gets more and more intense and exciting. When I came out of the shop, 8.02 minutes later, I felt energized and in a better mood.
What is really special about the song is that it starts with a slow acoustic guitar riff to expand progressively in that hard rock guitar solo. The lyrics are cryptic and give a mysterious taste to the sound. It sounds a bit like the singer was telling us about a dream he had. The words are poetic at times: a lady, a songbird, rings of smoke through the trees. They allow endless interpretation: signs, meanings, thoughts, feelings, spirit, wonder, soul. The whole thing doesn’t mean much but is highly evocative. The words resonate in your head a long time after hearing the song.
At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics because the music was so captivating. But then I realised that the song triggered little fantasies of clouds and songbirds in my head. That’s why I enjoy listening to Stairway when I’m thinking too much. It helps me to access another level of consciousness – between dreaming and living.
The song came out in 1971, long before I was born. Today it appears on every “Greatest songs of all time” list. As to the American guy, he broke my heart in the end. But I got some good music out of it!
I’ll use the last paragraph of the song as a conclusion:
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
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