Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stairway to Heaven

There's a lady who's sure
All that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
And she's buying a stairway to heaven

There's a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
It makes me wonder

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 trees
And the voices of those who stand looking
And it makes me wonder

And it's whispered that soon
If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forest will echo with laughter

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May queen
Yes there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on
And it makes me wonder

Your head is hummin' and it won't go
In case you don't know
The piper's calling you to join him
Dear lady can you hear the wind blow
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whisperin' wind

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll

And she's buying a stairway to heaven...

- Released November 8, 1971

- The song was voted #3 in 2000 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs.

- In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine put it at number 31 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

- It was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s, despite never having been released as a single there.

- The song's opening guitar arpeggios are strikingly similar to the guitar line from the instrumental track "Taurus" by the American band Spirit, for whom Led Zeppelin toured as support act in 1968.

Spirit Taurus

- British antiquarian Lewis Spence's Magic Arts in Celtic Britain is one of the sources for the lyrics to the song.

- "Stairway to Heaven" was performed at almost every subsequent Led Zeppelin concert, only being omitted on rare occasions when shows were cut short for curfews or technical issues.

- Although the song was released in 1971, it took until 1973 before the song's popularity ascended to truly "anthemic" status.

- In 1990 a St Petersburg, Florida station kicked off its all-Led Zeppelin format by playing "Stairway to Heaven" for 24 hours straight.

- The song's length precluded its release in full form as a single. Despite pressure from Atlantic Records the band would not authorize the editing of the song for single release, making "Stairway to Heaven" one of the most well-known and popular rock songs never to have been released as a single.

- In the early 1980s, some Christian evangelists in the US alleged that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backward masking. One example of such hidden messages that was often prominently cited was in "Stairway to Heaven." The alleged message, which occurs during the middle section of the song ("If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now...") when played backwards, was purported to contain the Satanic references "Here's to my sweet Satan" and "I sing because I live with Satan"

- Example of the song in baskmasking

- The band itself has for the most part ignored such claims; in response to the allegations, Swan Song Records issued the statement: "Our turntables only play in one direction—forwards". Led Zeppelin audio engineer Eddie Kramer called the allegations "totally and utterly ridiculous."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Immigrant Song

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green,
Can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war.
We are your overlords.
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing.

- Released November 5, 1970

- The song is famous for its distinctive, wailing cry from vocalist Robert Plant at the beginning of the song.

- There is a very faint count-off the beginning of the track with lots of hiss which appears on the album version, but is trimmed from the single version. The hiss is feedback from an echo unit.

- The song was written during Led Zeppelin's tour of Iceland in June 1970.

- The song is dedicated to the Icelander Leif Ericson, and is sung from the perspective of Vikings rowing west from Scandinavia in search of new lands. The lyrics make explicit reference to Viking conquests and the Old Norse religion

- It is one of the band's few single releases, having been released in November 1970 by their record label, Atlantic Records, against the band's wishes. It reached #16 on the Billboard charts.

- To get permission to use this song in the movie School Of Rock, the star of the movie, Jack Black, videotaped himself singing in front of a huge crowd of people, begging for Led Zeppelin to let them use the song in the movie. They succeeded. Reference

- The Minnesota Vikings play this song during their team introductions and before kickoffs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Whole Lotta Love

You need coolin, baby, I'm not foolin,
I'm gonna send you back to schoolin,
Way down inside honey, you need it,
I'm gonna give you my love,
I'm gonna give you my love.

Wanna whole lotta love [X4]

You've been learnin, baby, I been learnin,
All them good times, baby, baby, I've been yearnin,
Way, way down inside honey, you need it,
I'm gonna give you my love... I'm gonna give you my love.

Wanna whole lotta love [X4]

You've been coolin, baby, I've been droolin,
All the good times I've been misusin',
Way, way down inside, I'm gonna give you my love,
I'm gonna give you every inch of my love,
Gonna give you my love.

Wanna whole lotta love [X4]

Way down inside... woman... you need... love.

Shake for me, girl. I wanna be your backdoor man.
Keep it coolin, baby.

- Released October 22, 1969

- This was Led Zeppelin's first US single. The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 22 November 1969. It remained on the chart for 15 weeks, peaking at #4 and becoming the band's only top 10 single in the US.

- In 1962, Muddy Waters recorded "You Need Love" written for him by peer Willie Dixon. In 1966 British mod band the Small Faces recorded the song as "You Need Loving". Some of the lyrics of Led Zeppelin's version were borrowed from the Willie Dixon song, a favorite of Robert Plant's. Plant's phrasing is particularly similar to that of Steve Marriott's in the Small Faces' version. Similarities with "You Need Love" would lead to a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin, settled out of court in favour of Dixon in 1985. Strangely, the Small Faces were never sued by Dixon, even though "You Need Loving" still only credits Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott. Reference

Muddy Waters "You Need Love"

Small Faces "You Need Loving"

- "Whole Lotta Love" was the last song Led Zeppelin ever played live in their original lineup.

- The song includes a sound effect called "Reverse Echo" or "Backward Echo" Jimmy Page lays claim to the invention of this effect, stating that he originally developed the method when recording the single "Ten Little Indians" with The Yardbirds in 1967. He later used it on a number of Led Zeppelin tracks, including "You Shook Me" and "Whole Lotta Love"

The Yardbirds "Ten Little Indians"

Led Zeppelin "You Shook Me"

- In 2004, "Whole Lotta Love" was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed "Whole Lotta Love" at number three in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009 it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.

- Jimmy Page played the loose blues riff for the intro, on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard through a 100W Marshall "Plexi" head amp with distortion from the EL34 output valves, which ascends into the first chorus. Then, beginning at 1:24 (and lasting until 3:02) the song dissolves to a free jazz-like break involving a theremin solo and a drum solo and the moans of Robert Plant (sometimes called the "orgasm section".

- Robert Plant did this song in one take.