This story is part of the book:Mama Mia permit Me walk! A journey through the most intriguing lyrics and also stories in rock music
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There space songs that, as soon as you’ve listened come them, fade far without having any kind of impact. Then, there space others that transcend music, achieve poetic status and also enduring because that eternity.
You are watching: To be a rock and not to roll
Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin’s immortal masterpiece, is the latter. That lyrics room rich with cryptic recommendations to allegories and also mysticism, providing far much more than the simplistic satanism that countless detractors argue is its main theme.Robert Plant created the text of course, and also he has repeatedly stated that he drew inspiration native the works of the Scottish writer Lewis Spence, especially from his bookMagic arts in Celtic Britain. And it is the Celtic esotericism and spirituality the truly comes with in the lyrics – no more, no less.
The narrative starts with one of the most famed arpeggios in the history of music:
There’s a lady who sureAll the glitters is goldAnd she’s buying a stairway to heaven
Who is this ambiguous woman figure? fans of occultist theory have said that this is a metaphor for one initiation right into a new form of Pagan religion; one obscure, unknown belief. Yet this id has basic counter in the many references come Christianity in the tune as a whole. Follow to some, the lady is the Virgin Mary, and also Led Zeppelin seem to tacitly confirm this, pointing out the might Queen later on in the song, might being traditionally the month devoted to Mary.
But let’s stop entering into this type of debate and also read the text for what they really represent. As soon as you take it the lyrics at challenge value, you can see the the mrs is nothing more than an allegory of a greedy, materialistic, arrogant society that believes the everything, including a route to heaven, deserve to be obtained with money alone.
Moving on, Jimmy Page’s guitar and also John Paul Jones’ keyboards take on us through their ethereal melodies.
There’s a feeling I getWhen ns look come the WestAnd my heart is crying because that leaving
The West is a clear referral to the idea the purity in the Wild West, which was no longer wild in those job by any type of means, yet is tho a depiction of adventure, secret and charm. In essence, it is the place where we have the right to remove ourselves indigenous the materialism of modern-day society and also turn our fist to the unknown, to the stranger. Robert Plant want to guide us ~ above a type of spirituality journey, to aid improve ourselves and also the people roughly us. And those who hesitate and are watchful (“Those who stand looking”), could be those v a conservative outlook, who disapprove of this type of spiritual journey because they are imprisoned in societal materialism, can not to look at forward.But, just when we least expect it, we will be called to live in peace and harmony, in ~ one v nature and also each various other (“And the whispered that soon, If we all call the song / climate the piper will certainly lead united state to reason”).
It is now that us arrive at the famous verse which, if listened in come reverse, supposedly has a mental invocation that Satan. Rather of offering this concept any an ext airtime though, let’s leaving the rebuttal to plant himself: “To me it’s really sad, because ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was written with every ideal intention, and also as much as reversing tapes and also putting messages on the end, that’s no my idea of make music.” This really need to be sufficient to put the idea come bed once and for all.
If yes a bustle in her hedgerowDon’t be alarmed nowIt’s simply a spring-clean for the may Queen
This is the reference to may Queen that we stated earlier. The bustle in the hedgerow represents our mind, confused by the opportunity of this spiritual path, or perhaps simply unprepared for it. But if it’s true that you have the right to find numerous ways to adjust yourself, climate it is also true the you always have the possibility to hange your mind and take one more path. There space no destinies the have currently been written; we space all free to do our decision with full autonomy.
Moving forward through the lyrics, us arrive in ~ the last verse before the above Jimmy page solo:
Your head is humming and it won’t goIn instance you don’t knowThe piper’s calling girlfriend to sign up with him
It is below when we ultimately get the call. Our minds space still confused, but the sweet melody of the piper is resounding in our heads, top us in the direction of spiritual perfection. The article is climate addressed come the lady mentioned at the start of the song: the winds are transforming and it’s time the everyone realises that humanity can really aspire to something better. At the bottom, the rough stairway to heaven, do of other tangible, is nonetheless floating in the air(“your stairway lies top top the whispering wind”). It’s a path, but it’s vulnerable like any other – perhaps even more so, due to the fact that it to represent the spiritual, no the physical.
The lyrics then give means to Jimmy Page’s magnificent guitar, which unleashes a riff, an effective yet dreamy in ~ the exact same time. The is considered by numerous the most beautiful solo of all time, yet it isn’t the critical word; the tune still has actually something come say in the type of one critical appeal to listeners:
And if girlfriend listen very hardThe song will pertained to you in ~ lastWhen all are one and also one is allTo it is in a rock and also not come roll
The critical verse is a synthesis of the message consisted of in the lyrics as a whole: no issue how great our faults or ours dark political parties are, we will constantly have the possibility to listen to and understand both those roughly us and also ourselves. Materialism and individualism will be always present, ready to tempt us, presenting their way as the simplest and easiest one to follow, yet the an option relies on united state andour intentions to unite mankind. This is the only method to discover harmony, to it is in united and “not come roll”, overwhelmed by a life implemented by stereotypes.
Here it is, therefore; our stairway come heaven: our score in life, follow to Led Zeppelin, should be to uncover the power of the community, the must live together, in harmony with our souls and also with nature. Only in this method can we we really improve ourselves and others, escaping the genuine evil that society, framed in that materialism, selfishness and disinterest in the direction of others (“When all space one and one is every / To be a rock and also not to roll”).
Stairway come Heaven, in conclusion, is everything however a perverse ode come evil and darkness. In fact, it’s fairly the opposite, a splendid blog post of solidarity, brotherhood and also equality. Together, we can really readjust the world roughly us.To be a rock and also not come roll. Probably it’s just an illusion. Possibly we will certainly never be able to really gain together and do something concrete to do our lives better. However the article is there, and also that’s what Led Zeppelin wanted from us.
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Below, you can listen come a beautiful variation ofStairway come Heavenas understood by Ann and also Nancy Wilson, because that a tribute in ~ the Kennedy center in 2012.