Monday, 31 May 2010

To be a rock and not to roll

The admission I'm going to make may shock you. It might shake the very foundations of your belief in me as an intelligent, thoughtful person. It could indeed disturb you to the very core.

It's something I've kept from family, from friends. I've held it inside for so long that it's become a part of me. I can hold my tongue no longer. Here it comes. Don't judge me.

I don't agree with the opinion that says Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is a great song.

There, I've said it. I hope we can still be friends despite my clearly aberrant views. I suspect I'll have to surrender my membership of the Child of the Seventies Club, however. I shall hand back my tanktop.

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the afore-mentioned Zeppelin and most of their works. It's just that 'Stairway', probably their best known track, is not, in my opinion, their greatest work. For me, it's not even the best track on the Led Zep 4 album.

To a lot of people, in the last couple of hundred words I've done the equivalent of shooting Bambi's mother. People have asked for this song to be played at their funerals. Many have had that poster on their university bedroom wall - the one with the weird druidic figure and the symbols. I've heard of people having the final verse tattooed across their backs. I don't expect them to agree with me.

It's not as if it's a bad song. It really isn't, although there's a little too much flute at the beginning and the lyrics tick both of the following boxes:
Hippy [ ]
Dippy [ ]
However, it was the early 70's and so we must be charitable.

No, what really grates with me about the song is the mythology that's built up around it. Apparently it's being played on a radio station somewhere in the world all the time. Hopefully not the same station. Before I started writing this I googled the phrase I used for the title - just one line of lyrics from the song. It featured on over 99million web pages globally. 99 million! Folks, please. Its. Just. A. Song.

The problem is, most well-established bands end up with a Stairway in their repertoire. The one song that even non-fans know. The ones that hang around despite their best efforts to do other, better things. The ones that people shout out for at concerts. The ones that I bloody hate. Let's have some examples:
  • Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody. Good God, no.
  • Black Sabbath - Paranoid. It's like a heavy metal novelty track. Make it stop, please.
  • Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water. Gets you thrown out of a guitar shop in double-plus time.
  • Lynryd Skynryd - Freebird. Essentially it's Stairway but with more Jack Daniels and a longer solo.
  • The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again. Oh, actually I really like this one.
The thing is, I grew up listening to the bands above and still love, in a way that is rather scary, some 99% of their output. But they've all got a Stairway.

Right, I've opened up to you all. My undoubted heresy might be the undoing of me. If I actually had any readers left by now I would now be expecting a tirade in the comments. What can I say? It makes me wonder.

1 comment:

Tom said...

You still have at least one loyal reader!! I roll my eyes whenever any ONE of those songs comes on. ESPECIALLY Freebird!! I detest that song! I will have to go with you to turn in my "Child of the 70's" card now, but you won't be alone.

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