When you think of songs entrenched in rock royalty, it’s difficult for Led Zeppelin hit ‘Stairway To Heaven’ not immediately float to the front of the mind, and truthfully, it epitomises everything great about the band in one song. On one occasion, Jimmy Page even opened up on “the point” of the track, an admission that provides a glistening insight into what makes him tick as an artist.
Honestly, there isn’t much in the world music that is more widely adored than ‘Stairway To Heaven’. The track is something that will live long in the history books after we are all gone, and it’s a constant source of pride for Jimmy Page. After everything he’s created throughout a spellbinding career, few things give him a more profound sense of joy than the seismic effort.
Page is the man behind some of the most formidable solos and riffs of all time, with the guitarist unequivocally someone who sits upon the pantheon of greats to have ever picked up the instrument. In fact, even before joining Led Zeppelin, he was already one of Britain’s most esteemed guitarists, making his name with The Yardbirds, and every group in the country wanted to secure his services as a session musician.
‘Stairway To Heaven’ is a track that could only have come from the brains of Page, and it’s an indictment of his unwavering creative vision. Every single compartment of the song slot together perfectly. It remains eight minutes of pure songwriting brilliance, and the guitarist once explained what was racing through his thought process when he created the classic effort.
“I wanted to put something together which started with quite a fragile, exposed guitar,” he noted to the BBC. “As far as the instrumentation goes, there are recorders in the early part which give it a slightly medieval feel. That was an idea of John Paul-Jones to put the recorders on, and he played them. When I first had the idea for ‘Stairway’, that wasn’t what I was thinking, and I was thinking more about the texture of the electric piano.”
He added: “The idea of ‘Stairway’ was to have a piece of music, a composition, whereby it would just keep on unfolding into more layers, more moods. The subtlety of the intensity and the overlay of the composition would actually accelerate as it went through on every level, every emotional level, every musical level, so it just keeps opening up as it continues through its passage.”
Meanwhile, later in the conversation, Page noted: “When I was a session musician, one of the cardinal rules was that you didn’t speed up, and I was keen to do something which had an acceleration to it. Not only from the musical point of view, but the lyricist, so the whole thing would gain momentum as it went through, and it wasn’t just a monotone piece.”
The video is a mind-blowing comprehension of how Jimmy Page operates, and it’s an extensive analysis of how he stitched these ideas together, which led to the culmination of ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Take some time out, and let yourself set foot inside the brain of a true, mercurial genius.