Stairway To Heaven has had some controversy because it is alleged that the main riff is stolen from another song, “Taurus” by Spirit, released in 1968. I’ve listened to it, and there’s definitely a similarity, but at the end of the day there’s only really a finite number of ways to play these arpeggios and chord progressions.
However, although the Spirit song is nice enough in its own way, it can’t hold a candle to the epic majesty of “Stairway To Heaven”. I would say that it is very much one of my ultimate favourite songs. I obviously love all the songs I post here, but some really are just a level above.
The song starts of very softly, with the excellent guitar riff, and some recorder accompaniment. Robert Plant sings his very esoteric and poetic lyrics on top of this. They’re a bit much at points but they really sound the part.
The song continues to build, adding heavy layers of instrumentation and guitar parts throughout. The drums don’t even kick in until half way through, such is the delicate progression of the song. When they do, the song really starts to pick up the pace.
The song then becomes more overtly a rock song, but the wonderfulness of it is, the poise and beauty of the first half never really leave. Jimmy Page adds some guitar wizardry, and the song finishes with Plant’s lonely call, “And she buying a stairway to Heaven”.
The song is the best song on the already fantastic Led Zeppelin IV, which was their 1971 album which had no title except a bunch of symbols.
A high point of human achievement as far as I’m concerned.