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LISTENING IN: A slice of Heaven

“Stairway to Heaven” consistently ranks as one of rock music’s greatest songs (listeners at one radio station in NYC have ranked it No. 1 for the past 20 years), remarkably achieving such glorious heights despite never have being released as a single.

The Led Zeppelin classic was released on the British band’s unnamed masterpiece album in 1971 (subsequently called Led Zeppelin IV, but also informally “ZoSo” for one of the symbols embedded in the cover artwork), and it quickly became a rock anthem and teen-dream, high school last-dance staple as shy students angled to score a suitable partner for the unprecedented eight-minute slow song (balanced by the awkward “do we speed up or just keep swaying?” power-rock finale).

Such an epic song (and epic memories) surely deserves a suitable video and there might be none better than this one – recorded at an always incredible Kennedy Centre Honors ceremony (circa 2012), voiced by the incomparable Ann Wilson (with sister, Nancy) from Heart, and featuring Jason Bonham filling in on drums for his late father John – and supported by both a strings section and youth gospel choir, the latter sporting bowler hats in honour of the legendary missing “Bonzo.”

In attendance were the three surviving members of the band, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page (the latter two being authors of the song), who were suitably tuxed-up for the career-defining occasion.

The masterful performance was also witnessed by the Obamas, plus a host of other assorted rock luminaries – all of whom experienced nothing short of a slice of heaven.

Bonus version

While it’s hard to outdo the previous Stairway tribute, there’s something to be said for the ingenuity and enthusiasm of a flash mob and this one, assembled in Mainz, Germany, is worth every second of the 5:08 you’ll devote to it. (Note: It’s worth it alone for the guy in the crowd playing air suitcase!). Thanks again to Elvi for another sensational submission!

LYRICS

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

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.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who stand looking.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it’s 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.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.

Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
The piper’s calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
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 she’s buying a stairway to heaven

First published at Travel Industry Today

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