Stairway To….Hope

In my last piece I hinted that it would be easy for me to post music videos just for the sake of keeping in touch, and implied that this would be a kind of cop out. Given that four weeks have passed since then I think I can be spared any accusations of taking this as a quick and easy route! I’ve been thinking a lot about music recently, and about how important it has been throughout my life, even before my parents first bought a record player. It was one of those ones which played vinyl and had a little arm which held up to six records so you didn’t have to keep getting up to change the track. I even tried this with albums, but that didn’t go well! I was 9 when the Beatles stormed onto the music scene, but can remember listening to pop music on the radio before that. My parents were a bit late in adding a music player to our home so I didn’t start building a collection for a while. I can still remember the first record I ever bought: Eve Of Destruction by Barry McGuire. I must have had a rebellious streak when I was younger!

Fast forward a few years and you arrive at 1971, the year that my favourite song of all time was released. This track has been played so much since then, and has appeared in countless lists of the top songs of all time, that it seems almost trite to be mentioning it, but for a rock song still to be so popular 44 years after it was released gives it, to my mind, a huge amount of credibility. That song is this:

 

This first appeared on the band’s fourth album, the one with no title which has, unsurprisingly, been known since then as Led Zeppelin 4. I saw the band perform this live, when it was almost thrown away in his intro by Robert Plant as ‘here’s a song off our next album.’ This was on March 10 1971, at the University of Kent, in Canterbury. It was the fourth date on a spring tour of smaller venues in the UK and Ireland which was promoted as a tour to thank fans for helping to make Led Zep so successful. Or maybe I’m being cynical in suggesting it was a set of warm up gigs for their big tour of Europe and North America later that year? Either way, I got to see the biggest and best band in the world for the princely sum of 60 pence. That may not sound much now but it was about half of what this schoolkid earned each week from his Saturday job, so it was no small investment! Boy, was it worth it!

As I mentioned earlier, music is very important to me. I have, I think, a fairly wide taste in music, although I draw the line at hip hop and rap (which I think is missing the silent C as its first letter). This eclecticism has the benefit of giving me music to listen to whatever my frame of mind, and it has helped me through some dark times. It is no coincidence that music is used as a therapy in treating people with mental illness, as it can do so much to set the mood, the ambience if you like, and can help us relax into our thoughts (even if sometimes they are misgiven – sorry, Mr Plant!). Music can cheer us up, calm us down, motivate us: there are just so many ways it can do this. I don’t imagine that many football teams take to the field to the sound of Enya, but she is perfect late night listening when you’ve had a hard day. Try it, I dare you!

What prompted this post was watching many times over the past month a version of Stairway performed in 2012, at an event to celebrate Led Zep’s career. This version adds new dimensions to the song for me. Previously I had always thought of it as part of Robert Plant’s mystic period, but hearing – and seeing – this performance has made me realise that the song is much more than that. I know, it took 44 years but I’m a slow learner! Listen to the words and you will hear messages about following your dreams, about finding your inner strength, about taking choices and chances in our lives. Above all, the message is actually referenced by Robert Plant in his intro to the song in my first video, that we should never cease to hope:

 

The way that builds to its crescendo is amazing. You can see the tears forming in Robert Plant’s eyes as his creation is taken to a higher plane, and the sheer joy shared by him and Jimmy Page as the various elements of the song unfold. I hope you’ll watch it all the way through. I have a number of friends, both in the real and virtual worlds, who are struggling at the moment. I hope that they, in particular, will watch this and feel a little hope returning to them as they do so. Whether or not you like Led Zep is irrelevant. This is music at its purest: as an emotional outpouring.

I hope you enjoy it!

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5 thoughts on “Stairway To….Hope

    • Apparently lots of guitar shops have banned people from playing it, because so many have done it when trying out new instruments! Even that first time I heard it at the gig in 1971, I knew it was something special.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You’re right about the silent ‘c’ – it should never have been silent! Led Zep are my all-time favourite band. My husband met Robert Plant at Madrid airport a few years ago, and has a much prized photo as a keepsake. Be careful regarding copyright if you publish any song lyrics on your SaturdaySongs blog. I look forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great memory to have! Sadly, although I was within touching distance of the great man that was well before camera phones were invented! Thanks for the tip, I’ll be quoting but not reproducing whole lyrics – I don’t have millions to spare for a lawsuit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    Tomorrow I’m starting a new dimension on my blog, a series which I’m calling #SaturdaySongs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that this will be a series of posts on Saturdays, which contain songs, does it! In the way that TV channels do, I was wondering whether I should run a series of trailers for this but, to have copied what they do, I would have had to start that months ago, and continued to bore you rigid with the same trailer. So I decided I’d just launch it quietly onto an unsuspecting blogworld. But then this popped up in my #Timehop for today – a fun little app, by the way.

    I posted this piece a year ago today, and having been prompted to re-read it I was struck by what I said about how important music is to me and to so many other people. It seemed to me to be an ideal way to lead into my new series, so I’m sharing it again as my trailer – only one repeat, so that can’t be a bad thing! I hope to see you again tomorrow for my first #SaturdaySong.

    Liked by 1 person

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