Thursday, November 08, 2018

Thursday Thirteen - Stairway to Heaven

Since today is the day that Led Zeppelin released the album with Stairway to Heaven on it, here are some facts about that song and the band.

1. Every guitar store I've ever been in has a sign up that says, "No playing Stairway to Heaven" or some derivative thereof. (I have been known to play it anyway. Softly. Nobody's ever said anything.)

2. Led Zeppelin has sold more than 100 million records in the United States.

3. Stairway to Heaven, which is arguably the most famous rock song of all time, was never a hit on the charts because it was never released as a single to the general public. However, on Tuesday, November 13, 2007, all of Led Zeppelin's back catalogue became available for download in the UK, and the track made the singles chart for the first time.

4. Led Zepplin has received Kennedy Honors, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (the latter in 2005).

5. Robert Plant wrote the words to the song. The song is basically about a woman who accumulates money, which she thinks will get her into heaven, but she finds out that is not the case. Plant called it, "a woman getting everything she wanted without giving anything back."

6. Plant had to defend the song in court 2016 as part of a plagiarism trial over this song. He said he wrote the song and first played it for his band at Headley Grange in Liphook Road, Headley, Hampshire. This is also where they recorded it, using a mobile studio owned by The Rolling Stones. Headley Grange was a huge, old, dusty mansion with no electricity but great acoustics. (The jury in the plagiarism trial ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin, deciding that the chord progression in dispute was common to many other songs dating back decades, and therefore, in the public domain. However, the case this year was sent back to trial on appeal.)

7. Plant wrote the lyrics in a flash of inspiration. "I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, 'There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold/And she's buying a stairway to heaven.' I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat," he said.

8. After the song became famous, many people decided it was inspired by Satan, and that there were messages on the album if you played it backwards. Plant, in Musician magazine, said that Stairway To Heaven, "was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that's not my idea of making music. It's really sad. The first time I heard it was early in the morning when I was living at home, and I heard it on a news program. I was absolutely drained all day. I walked around, and I couldn't actually believe, I couldn't take people seriously who could come up with sketches like that. There are a lot of people who are making money there, and if that's the way they need to do it, then do it without my lyrics. I cherish them far too much."

9. The song is 8:03 minutes long. It is still thought to be the most-played song on American FM radio.

10. It has sold more sheet music than any other rock song, selling about 1 million copies total. About 10,000 to 15,000 copies of the sheet music are still sold each year.

11. This was the only song whose lyrics were printed on the inner sleeve of the album at its initial release.

12. There is no bass guitar in this song. Instead, it has a string section, keyboards, and flutes. There are also wooden recorders used in the intro.

13. There are no drums in this song until 4:18 minutes into the music.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 577th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday. Or so sayth the Blogger counter, anyway.


  1. I didn't know you played guitar! I was a huge Led Zepplin fan and saw them at the Boston Tea Party just before they were famous.

  2. I hit the 4:18 mark right before you mentioned the drums and had just noticed them.

    I don't have a post today. Just dropped by to see how you were doing.

  3. I'm obsessed with this post, but there's still time to change the road I'm on


I enjoy your comments and always appreciate the opportunity to visit the blogs of my readers. I hope you have a great day!