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ScarletMacaw

If you could re-write the lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven..."

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Robert Plant said that he thinks he was "working out what I was trying to say" with the lyrics and apparently, he has never been satisfied with the results. I've always wondered--why then didn't he rewrite them later? I mean, Page didn't play the same solos all the time...if I were Plant, this is what I'd do/have done:

Changed the persona of the woman who appears in the beginning of the lyrics, or gotten rid of her altogether. It's a portrayal of a shallow, manipulative person; it's unpleasant. Then, the same woman or another woman (?) appears at the end of the lyrics as a beneficent and perhaps magical creature. If this is the same woman, how did this transformation happen? It doesn't make sense...The lyrics seem to indicate a split perception of women by Plant, as either shallow and degraded on the one hand, or magical, transcendent, idealized visions on the other. I could psychoanalyze this, but I won't.

The best parts of the lyrics are the mystical parts-- "In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven" "our shadows taller than our soul;" the quirky "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May-Queen," and also, the seemingly Tolkien-influenced: ""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 threes and the voices of those who stand looking." I find those parts to be quite vivid.

As far as I'm aware, the band just went along with what Plant wrote. I always like to get feedback on my writing and it's beneficial to most writers.

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I could psychoanalyze this, but I won't.

Considering psychoanalysis is pseudoscience at best... :P

I agree with you that the "mystical" and mythologically/Tolkien-inspired lyrics are the best parts of the song.

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Blasphemy..... ;)

I quoted Plant himself! I'm just trying to help him out :angel:

I love "Stairway to Heaven", but I don't love the lyrics. They definitely could have used revision and I just gave my suggestions here...my guess is a lot of people have never really listened to the lyrics.

I love the acoustic guitar intro and the guitar solo, and Plant's singing toward the end.

btw does anyone know how this ended up in "Newbies" since I've been listening to the lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven" for 38 years? I thought that section was for basic questions about Led Zeppelin...

Edited by ScarletMacaw

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When asked in a fairly recent interview what the words to "Stairway" meant, Robert said "they mean whatever you want them to mean." I take that definition. When asked another time what he was talking about in "Stairway"

he said "I don't know what I was talking about."

I wouldn't change the greatest rock ballad ever. I love the song but don't listen to it much anymore. I have heard it one time too many.

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When asked in a fairly recent interview what the words to "Stairway" meant, Robert said "they mean whatever you want them to mean." I take that definition. When asked another time what he was talking about in "Stairway"

he said "I don't know what I was talking about."

I wouldn't change the greatest rock ballad ever. I love the song but don't listen to it much anymore. I have heard it one time too many.

Points for honesty to Robert ("I don't know what I was talking about").

Of course, song lyrics, like poetry, are often supposed to be open to interpretation. I was merely stating how I interpreted them. How do other people interpret them? No one has answered that question. Which makes me think I was right in what I said before, that most people don't really listen to the lyrics.

I actually don't know what the definition of a song ballad is. In poetry a ballad is generally composed of rhyming couplets and tells a story. Stairway to Heaven is kind of mysterious. Is it a ballad? I don't think most ballads have blistering guitar solos or other lengthy instrumental sections. But I could be wrong. I think of Stairway to Heaven as an unusual piece of music with different sections. Perhaps it defies categorization.

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This is only MY opinion. I have also listened to this ballad since it came out. There is nothing I would change. It has always reminded me that no amount of money can take away your sins, but the path you choose is one of your own, so as Robert has also stated..It's a song of hope.

I still get chills at times when I listen to this ballad, no matter how many times I hear it. To me structurally it is the best ballad ever written and played..again just my opinion. :)

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I kinda agree... it's an extremely beautiful song, but certainly suffers from overexposure,..

And I shudder everytime I meet people who think STH is the "definitive Zep Song", because IT ISN'T.

I'm the odd one out, Stairway to Heaven is one Zeppelin tune I never loved

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I don't think most ballads have blistering guitar solos or other lengthy instrumental sections. But I could be wrong. I think of Stairway to Heaven as an unusual piece of music with different sections.

You've not heard any Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi or 80's Heart, then? or Freebird, November Rain, Sweet Child O' Mine...the list goes on.

I was talking about this in another thread recently

http://forums.ledzeppelin.com/index.php?/topic/768-things-zeppelin-invented/page-6#entry706718

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Stairway to Heaven: Let it be, but that reminds me...
A redhead, brunette and blonde were on their way to Heaven.
Jimmy Page told them the stairway to Heaven was 1000 steps, and on every 5th step He’d tell them a joke. But, they must not laugh or else they couldn’t enter heaven.
The brunette went first and started laughing on the 65th step, so she could not enter Heaven.
The redhead went next and started laughing on the 320th step, so she could not enter Heaven either.
Then, it was the blonde’s turn. When she got to the 999th step, she started laughing.
“Why are you laughing?” Jimmy asked. “I didn’t tell a joke.”
“I know,” the blonde replied. “I just got the first one.”
Edited by Mudslider

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You've not heard any Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi or 80's Heart, then? or Freebird, November Rain, Sweet Child O' Mine...the list goes on.

Dictionary definition of ballad:

1.
any light, simple song, especially one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody.
2.
a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.
3.
any poem written in similar style.
4.
the music for a ballad.
5.
a sentimental or romantic popular song.
This is from Dictionary.com. My old hardcover suggests a ballad has a repeating refrain, which would cancel out Stairway to Heaven. I also don't think of STH as a "light, simple song" nor is it well-suited for singing. IMO, not a ballad.And neither is Free Bird, November Rain or Sweet Child O' Mine.
I've never figured out if blonde jokes are supposed to be about women who bleach their hair, in which case I can see the satire, or if they're supposed to be about blondes in general. I'm pretty sure that if you averaged IQs, blondes would score better overall. The Finnish have the highest scoring high school students with the least amount of homework. A lot of them are blondes.
I couldn't listen to STH or any song every day, but I have to say after 38 years I haven't gotten tired of it either.

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Dictionary definition of ballad:

1.
any light, simple song, especially one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody.
2.
a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.
3.
any poem written in similar style.
4.
the music for a ballad.
5.
a sentimental or romantic popular song.
This is from Dictionary.com. My old hardcover suggests a ballad has a repeating refrain, which would cancel out Stairway to Heaven. I also don't think of STH as a "light, simple song" nor is it well-suited for singing. IMO, not a ballad.And neither is Free Bird, November Rain or Sweet Child O' Mine.

Perhaps they don't adhere to the dictionary definition; but they are thought of as rock ballads and are referred to as such. On this list, for example we find 24. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin, 35. November Rain - Guns N' Roses, 39. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd, 136. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_balladsddd.html

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is a power ballad by American hard rock band Guns N' Roses,

At the heart of it was their secret weapon: an unexpectedly touching ballad called Sweet Child O' Mine that revealed a sensitive side to the band's volatile singer, Axl Rose, and gave Guns N' Roses their first-and only US Number 1 single.

http://www.heretodaygonetohell.com/articles/showarticle.php?articleid=149

Arguably classic rock's preeminent ballad, "Stairway to Heaven"

http://www.today.com/entertainment/stairway-heaven-turns-40-lets-retire-it-these-other-classics-6C9554113

Led Zeppelin's flagship rock ballad, Stairway to Heaven

http://suite101.com/article/the-meaning-behind-stairway-to-heaven-a149285

I could go on, but you get the idea...

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Perhaps they don't adhere to the dictionary definition; but they are thought of as rock ballads and are referred to as such. On this list, for example we find 24. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin, 35. November Rain - Guns N' Roses, 39. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd, 136. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_balladsddd.html

"Sweet Child o' Mine" is a power ballad by American hard rock band Guns N' Roses,

At the heart of it was their secret weapon: an unexpectedly touching ballad called Sweet Child O' Mine that revealed a sensitive side to the band's volatile singer, Axl Rose, and gave Guns N' Roses their first-and only US Number 1 single.

http://www.heretodaygonetohell.com/articles/showarticle.php?articleid=149

Arguably classic rock's preeminent ballad, "Stairway to Heaven"

http://www.today.com/entertainment/stairway-heaven-turns-40-lets-retire-it-these-other-classics-6C9554113

Led Zeppelin's flagship rock ballad, Stairway to Heaven

http://suite101.com/article/the-meaning-behind-stairway-to-heaven-a149285

I could go on, but you get the idea...

So, we're supposed to believe "music journalists" with no more than a B.A., or simple popularity rankings, more than a dictionary written by linguists and historians? Sorry, there's a difference between opinions (we all have them) and definitions that have been based on research and agreement among a wide range of experts.

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My old hardcover suggests a ballad has a repeating refrain, which would cancel out Stairway to Heaven

Ooh, it makes me wonder,

Ooh, it makes me wonder.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,

Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it makes me wonder.

So, we're supposed to believe "music journalists" with no more than a B.A., or simple popularity rankings, more than a dictionary written by linguists and historians? Sorry, there's a difference between opinions (we all have them) and definitions that have been based on research and agreement among a wide range of experts.

Firstly from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ballad we have

2. A popular song especially of a romantic or sentimental nature.

Isn't that close enough?

Secondly, you can believe what you want, but since when have terms used in pop culture been subject to the "definitions that have been based on research and agreement among a wide range of experts" The Police weren't actually badge wearing members of law enforcement. "Power Ballad" is just a term that loosely describes a certain type of song in the same way "chick-flick" might describe a certain type of film; but I don't even have a B.A so I may be wrong.

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OMG scarlet - the lyrics are amazing, imho. and to think he was, what - 22 years old or so at the time? come on!

as Deborah said, it has a lot of meaning. wise words, i think.

it is, was and always will be a GREAT song.

when Robert says things like " i don't know what it meant " etc, that's just him being Robert. he's like that a lot in interviews. especially about stairway, as he must have been asked a cazillion times about it over the years.

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Over 40 years later, I still listen to "Stairway" at least once a week. Never tire of it and still think it is the greatest rock song ever written. I wouldn't change a thing!

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Well, I guess the responses have answered one of my questions--evidently Robert never changed the lyrics because he decided the fans liked them!

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ScarletMacraw,

Don't get me wrong...it took me YEARS of listening to figure out what the lyrics were. Maybe I just got used to them by then. I do like that Robert left the lyrics very vague and open to interpretation by the listener.

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Well, I guess the responses have answered one of my questions--evidently Robert never changed the lyrics because he decided the fans liked them!

are you just joking, or do you really think that?

because i think - just my opinion- that he left them because that's how he wanted them. it was recorded that way.

if you are talking about what he may have written/ changed in hind-sight, well that's a different kettle of fish. maybe at age, say 40+ he may have changed some here and there, but i really don't think so. i know that i would be proud to put my name to those lyrics!

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