Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stairway to Heaven

There's a lady who's sure
All that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.

Sometime in October, Swati and I were discussing our favourite rock songs. And the whole discussion started because she had the lyrics of "Stairway to Heaven" on her Gtalk Status Message. That reminded me of the only time I'd tried Karaoke at a fest in IIMB, when I attempted to dazzle an audience with this number with a hope that the place wouldn't echo with laughter instead of applause(more about my performance later). So what is it about "Stairway" that people, who were born more than a decade after the the song released, quote as twenty-something-year olds?

And it makes me wonder

Is it the mystical nature of the lyrics? Mysterious figures and images of nature abound: a lady, the piper, the May queen, a brook, a songbird, rings of smoke through the trees, a hedgerow, the wind. And with some evocative messages that implore listeners to pay attention to the lyrics.

There's a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook
There's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Is it the haunting melody sung in an enticing tone that draws us to it like the mice and children that followed Pied Piper all the way in Hamlin? Do they really promise to lead us to a new dawn

And its whispered that soon
If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

There are probably several other reasons. What I love about the song is that it starts with the gentle strains of an Acoustic guitar with accompaniments that are very reminiscent of the simple folk of the shire in the LOTR trilogy. But then there is a sudden transition from the acoustic to the electric, probably symbolizing the evolution to the Industrial age, with a raucous roar of heavy distortion. It then ends in the poignant tone that it began with. All this render the song into the best musical representation of a gratifying orgasm, complete with an eight-minute foreplay leading up to it.

There'll be several Led Zeppelectics who'll probably tear this review apart, but where they'll surely agree with me is when I say "Stairway", along with at least a couple of other numbers like "Whole Lotta Love" and "Immigrant Song" have elevated Led Zeppelin to a sacrosanct place in Rock and Roll History and that they've made a lasting impression in the music history's proverbial sands of time.

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.

And shes buying a stairway to heaven.


Purely Narcotic said...

'Does anybody remember laughter?'

Sudhir Pai said...

I certainly do!
ha ha ha!