The Who2 Blog

Heart Covers ‘Stairway,” Makes Robert Plant Cry

Well, heck, watch this video of Ann and Nancy Wilson performing “Stairway to Heaven,” and you’ll probably cry, too.

From the Vancouver Sun, we have this video of Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, paying tribute at the Kennedy Center to the remaining members of Led Zeppelin. They do an almost note-for-note cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” The Vancouver Sun makes a point of telling you that Robert Plant cries — gosh, if that doesn’t draw you in, what will? 

Jimmy Page shows some side boob. Ha! Just kidding.

You should watch the video before reading my long introduction about why it’s actually surprisingly moving,  even for this hard-bitten, tired-of-classic-rock and nearly-unknown music critic.

It’s also pretty weird, of course. When you stop and think about it — here’s Led Zeppelin, draped in honorary gear and in the finest balcony of the finest music hall, with the President of the United States in attendanceā€¦ I mean, it’s just a little bit weird.

Because when Led Zeppelin was Led Zeppelin, they were not exactly getting kudos from The Establishment. But, of course, those radical musicians from the 1960s (so radical they dared to rip-off music from black Americans!) are icons of what is now The Establishment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Led Zeppelin. The first LP I ever bought was Led Zeppelin II, when I was in the fifth grade, in 1970. I’ve listened to that band so much that I can re-play most of their songs in my mind easily.

And, as it turns out, I have a very clear memory of the first time I heard “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a new song that was so long they didn’t play it during regular radio hours. I heard it after midnight, on Portland, Oregon’s KGW radio (AM).

But it wasn’t long before all of us Led Zeppelin fans made fun of “Stairway to Heaven” — especially the live version (“Does anybody remember laff-tuh?”). This was when they were at their peak, probably — 1977 0r 1978.

And yet, here we are, 30+ years later, and those drug-fueled, J.R.R. Tolkien-influenced, orgy-going, grief-stricken old men are now considered our collective generation’s bards.

All that said, it’s true that it’s a great tribute. For one thing, those Wilson sisters are still very talented. That voice! For another, don’t you feel for the guy who has to do the Jimmy Page guitar solo? Whoa! 

Mostly, watching this video, you get the funny sense that this song, “Stairway to Heaven,” out-anthems all the other national anthems.

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