What does Jimmy Page say about “Stairway to Heaven”? The song has an “eternal quality” that makes it powerful
It’s one of the classic rock songs of all time, but Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is also divisive. Jimmy Page had a custom guitar built to play the song properly, and it features what many music fans call the greatest guitar solo of all time. On the other hand, singer Robert Plant was so tired of hearing it that he donated to a radio station, which vowed never to play the song again. Plant may have outgrown the song, but it remains for music fans, and Page once explained the “eternal quality” that helps “Stairway to Heaven” remain a classic more than 50 years later.
“Stairway to Heaven” was the heart of “Led Zeppelin IV”
Led Zeppelin released three albums in two years when they formed. The first three albums are classics, but it all built up into the 1971s Led Zeppelin IV. Zep intended the classic fourth album to be all about the music, and it was.
Led Zeppelin IV hit shelves more than a year later Led Zeppelin III, which did not go down well with some fans and critics. The cover of Led Zeppelin IV sent a message that the music was more important than the marketing. The jacket had no band name, label information, or song title. Four mysterious symbols represented each of the band members.
The band threw fans a bone and included a lyric sheet for “Stairway to Heaven” when Plant’s words first appeared in print. “Stairway to Heaven” remains one of Led Zeppelin’s defining songs, and Page once explained the “eternal quality” that makes it endure.
Jimmy Page said “Stairway to Heaven” has an everlasting quality because Led Zeppelin fired on all guns
TIED TOGETHER: Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones once called “Stairway to Heaven” a Led Zeppelin “sampler”
Led Zeppelin IV delivers two driving songs – “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” – before digressing into mandolin-driven folk with “The Battle of Evermore”. Fans who expected another hit with “Stairway to Heaven” had to be patient.
Jones, who plays multiple recorders, and Page’s soft acoustic guitar are the only instruments for almost a minute. Page then joins in as the song begins to build. Having skipped “Battle of Evermore,” Bonham doesn’t show up until more than halfway through “Stairway.” But as the song continued its steady build to an unforgettable climax, Bonham allowed some anger to be directed at his drums.
Page once told the BBC (via YouTube) that “Stairway to Heaven” survives as a classic because each of the four members of Led Zeppelin is at their best and performs with sincerity:
“It was really an inspiring time. It somehow shows the enduring quality of this music over the years, the fact that everyone plays so honestly and with such conviction. You really notice that.”
Jimmy Page Talks Stairway to Heaven
Plant might disagree, but Page gets what the fans are doing – “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the best Led Zeppelin songs of all time.
The song never made the charts and “Led Zeppelin IV” didn’t make it to #1
TIED TOGETHER: The guitar solo that Jimmy Page thinks is better than “Stairway to Heaven.”
Page’s epic guitar solo — the best of three he improvised for the song — is the culmination of what could be Led Zeppelin’s signature track. (Although Plant would vote for another Zep epic).
But for all the success of the song and the album (Led Zeppelin IV sold 24 million copies, most of their albums), but failed to top the charts.
The album was all about the music, and the band refused to cut the eight-minute “Stairway to Heaven” to single length. As a result, it never made it onto the Billboard singles chart. The album itself was nothing but a smash hit, but timing prevented it from reaching #1 on the albums chart. Sly and the Family Stone and Carole King released albums that endured Led Zeppelin IV from the top spot.
Chart success or not, Jimmy Page is right that “Stairway to Heaven” has an enduring quality that will appeal to any new generation of music fans who discover Led Zeppelin’s music.
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TIED TOGETHER: Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits
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