Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Author: Ankit

Hi
Our club has a lot of talented people. In every domain, and especially the writers, and by god they just knock it out of the ballpark every time they sit down to write.
I remember a couple of months back when Nikita (our Ed head) had told me what an article that’s published on the blog looks like.

“Rules are there are no rules. Go crazy baka” (okay… there’s a chance she didn’t say those exact words)

I’m pushing my luck on that with this piece.
Prior to my turn, I in-fact asked a couple of my friends here, on how they manage to come up with such brilliantly thought-provoking essays that give rise to thoughts on social commentaries or sometimes, even a gracefully penned poem on abstract..stuff.
The general response was, “Aren’t you the guy who writes jokes for our newsletter?”

So… I’ve now decided to move out of my “comfort zone” and write something completely new. I’m just gonna talk about

…*drum roll please*…

My favorite rock song of all-time, by the band Led Zeppelin, called “Stairway to Heaven” released in 1971.
Feel free to click away if you’re not really into the rock music scene.

Prelude

The 1960s (and the early 70s), many argue, were the greatest ever era for rock music. The talent was immaculate, sound mixer boards then weren’t high tech, there was no autotune and it was a fresh and exciting new genre.

It was the face of the hippie counterculture movement then, like Hip Hop today and people were LOVING it.

Hitherto unknown subgenres like Psychedelic rock, Progressive rock, and Alternative Rock came into the spotlight and for a while, it seemed like this was a dream that would never end.
Among these bands were The Rolling Stones, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Dire Straits…well the list is endless.
It was more than just rock music for people, for the hundreds of thousands of draftees stationed in Vietnam, this was the sound of their war, playing it on their ham-radios all day long.

Trying to make their way to success was a small group from London, called Led Zeppelin (or The New Yardbirds, as they were called till ‘68).

Interlude

For their 4th studio album, (with all due pressure from Altantic Records) the band wanted to compose a track, the likes of which that’d never been seen before.
Enter: Stairway to Heaven

The song opens in a mellow arpeggio, played by the legendary Jimmy Page, as the tempo gradually rises through the course of the music.

“..There’s a lady who’s sure

All that glitters is gold

And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven”

Now I could wax lyrical about the symbolism and hidden meaning behind it, but then it’d just be my own interpretation. Rock music rang synonymous with freedom and whatnot, you can take your own pick as to what could’ve been the true intention. 

About two and a half minutes in, there’s a distinct change in tempo as it switches to a little more upbeat note, and the clean electric riffs can be heard, and the mood of the song now focuses on what is assumed to be coursing through the heads of a young soldier in the deciduous forests of Vietnam.

“..In my thoughts I have seen

Rings of smoke through the trees

And the voices of those who standing looking..”

Following which, Page, the ever talented virtuoso, breaks into a small guitar sequence, the style of playing slowly progressing towards hard rock.
Then comes the best part of it all, the creme de la creme.

Considered as probably the greatest guitar solo ever to be composed for a song, Jimmy Page licks his double-necked Gibson EDS to a soul-moving allegro where you feel like he’s pushing away at the strings of your heart. 


The experience, to a first time listener is surreal. And it only gets better. ‘

I heard it for the first time a day before my first 12th grade board exam and I could’ve sworn I shed a tear.

Robert Plant then takes center stage and screams away his final verses of the song, ending on an acappella.

Postlude

Led Zeppelin IV then went onto become the best selling album of all time until Pink Floyd dropped “Dark side of the moon” in 1973.
This rock ballad is dubbed as the greatest rock song ever by many and I’ve got to wholeheartedly agree.

Rock music’s popularity gradually diminished as we saw new-age pop music, techno, r&b and hip hop emerge through the passage of the 20th century, which is a huge bummer for fans like me.

But all hope is not lost though; there’s all these bands that make Indie rock music every now and then.


I guess it’s like Alex Turner, frontman of the Arctic Monkeys, said in his acceptance speech during the Brit Album of the Year awards’, before (probably) passing out on account of his profuse cocaine infusion, “That rock and roll, eh? That rock and roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swap…
Yeah, that rock and roll, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”


Catch me rocking out to this with an air-guitar whilst on an elevator to the 7th floor at SJT.
Or just hopping around howling the riffs at the Portico.

Bye!

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