Jump to content

Stairway A better ending?


Recommended Posts

I pulled Keith Shadwick's book on Zep out the other day and this quote about Stairway has always intriqued me:

"....although the final reiteration of the image of the Lady climbing the stairway...gives a satisfying musical resolution to the entire performance, and brings us full circle as required, a more tantalising end would have been achieved if that tag had been left off and the song had finished with Page's screaming, ascending lead-guitar notes after Plant's "rock and not to roll" line. But then the song would not have had the huge emotional consummation at it's conclusion that made it so dear to an entire generation.... It evokes the age-old question which has primacy, lyrics or music?"

At first I winced at Shadwick's suggestion for the reasons stated above, but then I consciously stopped the song in my mind just before those last iconic words. Surprisingly, it wasn't the sacrilege I initially thought it would be. I sort of liked the "open-ended" quality where the ending is more left up to the listener's interpretation instead of robert doing it for him/her. What do you think about Shadwick's comments? Would stairway be more interesting/worse/better if it ended with the music instead of the lyrics? If this topic has been discussed before, I'm sure someone will lead me to the right place. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Soz girl but there is absolutely NO WAY that anything should be changed about Stairway, not even hypothetically. It's especially these last words "And she's buying a Stairway to heaven" that give the song an ending. Just the way this songs builds up indicates that it has to end in a more melancholic and calm way. Jimmy's guitar sounds are certainly part of the song, very important parts, but an open-ended song ain't no song to me..I always see this song as a kind of novel: You get the introduction containing the story and the presentation of the characters, then the story builds up to a climax. After that climax the story sort of floats on that climax for a while before the story comes to an end. This goes for Stairway as well. It's perfect the way it is and I cannot understand how any author, no matter how prolific or serious he is, can have the audacity to criticize such a song, a song that transgresses genders, ages and decades :mad:

Nothing against u SummrMoon, just the author :whistling:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Soz girl but there is absolutely NO WAY that anything should be changed about Stairway, not even hypothetically. It's especially these last words "And she's buying a Stairway to heaven" that give the song an ending. Just the way this songs builds up indicates that it has to end in a more melancholic and calm way. Jimmy's guitar sounds are certainly part of the song, very important parts, but an open-ended song ain't no song to me..I always see this song as a kind of novel: You get the introduction containing the story and the presentation of the characters, then the story builds up to a climax. After that climax the story sort of floats on that climax for a while before the story comes to an end. This goes for Stairway as well. It's perfect the way it is and I cannot understand how any author, no matter how prolific or serious he is, can have the audacity to criticize such a song, a song that transgresses genders, ages and decades :mad:

Nothing against u SummrMoon, just the author :whistling:

Oh, no offense taken :) ! Stairway is one of those songs that we're viscerally protective of isn't it? Believe me i had the same reaction as you at first. Who does he think he is? Stairway is structured PERFECTLY!! I don't know, maybe he thinks it's TOO perfect?? Yet, Shadwick is a pretty insightful guy who breaks down the songs/albums in a way no author i've read has. Sometimes he makes me mad, for instance when he said "Four Sticks" is the weakest song on IV! I freaking love that song, but I'm no music scholar so his take gave me some insight I wouldn't have thought of myself. I don't always agree, though. Anyway, I was willing to go with him and look at Stairway in a different way. Of course he gets it; he pretty much says so. In a way, those last three words have become even more iconic than the whole because of the unifying effect it has/had on the audience. As far as the song needing a calm ending, doesn't Page "descend" (don't know if that's the right term) at the end of his solo to achieve a calming effect?

At any rate, I LOVE the song the way it is. Like you said, it does tell a story; but not every story has to have a "tidy" ending. :)

Edited by SummrMoon
Link to post
Share on other sites

The song is as it was intended to be by LZ. But if they had decided to end it with an open ended interpretation, that would be what we have known all these years and would most likely be discussing the possibilty of an ending that has a finalizing quality to it.

BTW, I have Shadwick's book and really enjoyed the read. He focused on the music rather than the ususal sensational garbage. He was a writer and a critic, so his observations of the music were his opinions. One does not necessarily have to agree with them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...