Meaning of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

British rock band Led Zeppelin have recorded dozens of great songs, but none of them can be compared in terms of popularity with the legendary Stairway to Heaven (“Stairway to Heaven”). In the history of the song there was a resounding success, accusations of plagiarism and a hidden satanic message, an incredible number of cover versions, a lot of curious statements and much more, which to this day keeps the public interested in it.

History of the creation of the song Stairway to Heaven

The first sketches of Stairway to Heaven appeared in 1970, when, after their fifth US concert tour, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were at the Bron-Yr-Aur estate. Page carried a cassette recorder with him everywhere, on which he recorded musical passages that were born to him at different times. In the end, they formed the melody of Stairway to Heaven.

Jimmy himself said this about working on the song:

I had these pieces, guitar pieces, that I wanted to piece together. I have already come up with a musical composition that I was going to present in order to agree with everyone. But it was a bit tricky because it started out acoustic and then, as you know, electric parts come into it. So, we rehearsed it for a long time , I played acoustic, and therefore I jumped up and grabbed an electric guitar. Robert sat in the corner, or rather leaned against the wall, and while I tormented the rest of the band with this idea and composition, he just wrote. Suddenly he got up and started to sing, right in the middle of another attempt, and there was already about eighty percent of the current text.

Now a word to Robert Plant:

My hand suddenly began to write down the words: “There is a lady who is sure that all that glitters is gold, and she is buying a ladder to Heaven.” I just sat there and looked at them and then almost jumped in my chair.

Meaning of the song Stairway to Heaven

What is this legendary composition about? Plant explained the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven as “a cynical remark about a woman who constantly gets everything she wants without giving any attention or care in return.” However, in another interview he said:

Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song differently. And despite the fact that it was I who wrote the text.

Robert later cited “Magic in Celtic Britain” by antiquary Lewis Spence as one of his inspirations, but some music lovers still believe the song was inspired by Tolkien’s novels.

Recording and release

Stairway to Heaven was finally recorded in 1971. The final touch of the composition was Jimmy Page’s solo. He performed three variations, and all of them were pure improvisations. After much deliberation, he settled on the version that we all know.

The song appeared on the Led Zeppelin IV album and was not released as a single until 2007, although Atlantic Records offered to do so in 1972 and 1973. Only in the US was a seven-inch promo single released.

The band is believed to have played Stairway to Heaven for the first time live at a concert in Belfast on 5 March 1971. They say the public took it without enthusiasm. However, Page claimed that they had previously performed the song at the LA Forum before the song was recorded. According to him, many listeners applauded while standing.

Subsequently, Led Zeppelin played “Stairway to Heaven” at almost every show.

Stairway to Heaven scandals

In the early 1980s, a scandal erupted around Stairway to Heaven, which was caused by rumors of a satanic message allegedly hidden in the song. Say, if you scroll it in the opposite direction, you can hear a phrase glorifying the devil. Jimmy Page’s fascination with the works of occultist Aleister Crowley only added fuel to the fire, although the Led Zeppelin member denied the allegations and insisted that the song was written solely with good intentions.

Do you believe that the song Stairway to Heaven glorifies the devil?

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Later, critics and music lovers found out that the guitar intro of the song is very reminiscent of the song Taurus by Spirit, for which Led Zeppelin performed as an opening act at the beginning of their career. Moreover, in May 2016, a trial on this issue should take place. We’ll keep you posted on what’s happening.

Opinions about the song Stairway to Heaven

Rolling Stone magazine ranked Stairway to Heaven #31 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and VH1 ranked it #3 on its 100 Greatest Rock Songs. All the achievements of the composition can be listed for a very long time: the best guitar solo according to the readers of “Guitar World”, one of the most played and sold songs on the radio, and so on.

Jimmy Page has always considered Stairway to Heaven to be one of the band’s greatest achievements, but Robert Plant has repeatedly spoken about Stairway to Heaven in an unflattering way and for many years categorically refused to sing it, making exceptions only on very important occasions. Once he even called it a “wedding song.”

Stairway to Heaven cover versions

A huge number of covers were recorded on Stairway to Heaven. Frank Zappa, Dolly Parton, U2, The Foo Fighters, Jimmy Castor and many others presented their options. And we’ll listen to an instrumental version from Stanley Jordan.

Interesting Facts

  • In concert, Jimmy Page performed Stairway to Heaven on double neck guitar. At the same time, he allowed himself to improvise, which is why the duration of the song stretched to fifteen minutes.
  • In the movie Wayne’s World, the main character tries to play Stairway to Heaven in a record store, but the clerk interrupts and shows a No Stairway to Heaven sign. It is said that such inscriptions can be found in many American places selling guitars, because the song is constantly trying to play inept beginners.
  • Someone Gordon Roy from Scotland in memory of a deceased friend tattooed the lyrics on his back.
  • In 1991, John Sebastian radio station KLSK FM launched the song on the air for a whole day. So he celebrated the transition to the classic rock format.

Stairway to Heaven 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 standing 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 pipers 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 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

Stairway to Heaven Lyrics Led Zeppelin Lyrics

There is a lady who is sure:
All that glitters is gold
And she buys a stairway to Heaven
She knows that when she gets there,
Even if all shops are closed,
One word is enough for her to get everything she came for
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to make sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words are ambiguous
On a tree by a stream
The songbird sings about
That sometimes all our intentions fail
Oh-oh-oh, it makes me wonder
Oh-oh-oh, it makes me wonder

I feel something
When I look to the west
And I want to leave with all my heart
In my dreams I saw
Smoke rings rising through the trees
And heard the voices of those who looked at them
Oh-oh-oh, it makes me wonder
Oh-oh-oh, it really makes me wonder

Someone whispers that soon
If we all pay for songs
The piper will guide us on the true path
And a new day will come
For those who have endured
And the echo in the forest will respond with laughter

If there’s a commotion in your hedge,
Don’t worry about it
It’s just spring cleaning for the May Queen
Yes, there are two ways for you
But for many years
There’s still time to get off the road you’re on
And it makes me wonder

Your head is buzzing and it’s no good
If you don’t know
The pipers are calling you to join them
Dear lady, do you hear the roar of the wind?
And you knew
That your ladder rests on the whispering wind?

And while we’re walking down the road
Our shadows rise above our souls
There goes the lady we all know
She shines with white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very well
In the end, the melody will reach you
When everyone supports each other
That you need to be a stone and not roll down the road

And she buys a stairway to Heaven

Song quote

For me, Stairway to Heaven crystallized the essence of the band

Jimmy Page

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