Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heart's Stairway to Heaven Tribute to Led Zeppelin

I wonder how many times I've heard Stairway to Heaven in my lifetime. It's a part of my soundtrack, and Led Zeppelin was a part of the culture. I just looked it up and found that the song was released in late 1971, when I was five years old. And yet I still feel like it was going strong when I was in high school in the eighties.

Whatever the case, I don't think I ever got really tired of it. (Except perhaps when I worked at Swallow Hill Music and so many kids - and grown ups - with guitars would sit in the lobby and practice that opening riff.)

I just saw the tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center from 2012. I've seen it before, and I find it just as moving each time I watch it. Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart and Jason Bonham (Son of  Zeppelin drummer John Bonham) played Stairway to Heaven, while the surviving members of Led Zeppelin watch and enjoyed the performance.

It starts out beautifully, with Ann Wilson singing in her still so amazing voice. Robert Plant looks thoughtful, while Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are clearly just enjoying the show. They build the song with a choir, some guitars and violins. Then a horn section, guitar solo, and the wham! Ann Wilson belts "...and as we wind on down the road..." and ANOTHER choir comes in behind her - all wearing bowlers in honor of John Bonham (as is Jason, of course). So powerful!

Then the band drops out for the final line of the song, and there is Robert Plant wiping tears from his eyes. (And me with chills. Every time.)

It's still rock-and-roll. It's still relevant. It's still transformative. And it still ROCKS!

If you've got 7 minutes, watch Stairway to Heaven below. But if you have 22 minutes, I recommend you scroll down for the full tribute that also includes Jack Black, Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and Lenny Kravitz. (Love the brief view of Bonnie Raitt rocking out to Lenny Kravitz!)

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