The “Stairway to Heaven” is a popular rock song. It was released around 1970s. Let us look into the meaning of the song in this article.
The song is completely about the materialistic society. The writer says that collecting wealth throughout your life is not fruitful. Accumulating wealth will not get you to heaven. You need to choose a selfless spiritual path to get into heaven.
History of the creation of the song Stairway to Heaven
The first sketches of Stairway to Heaven appeared in 1970, when, after their fifth US concert tour, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were at the Bron-Yr-Aur estate. Page carried a cassette recorder with him everywhere, on which he recorded musical passages that were born to him at different times. In the end, they formed the melody of Stairway to Heaven.
Jimmy himself said this about working on the song:
I had these pieces, guitar pieces, that I wanted to piece together. I have already come up with a musical composition that I was going to present in order to agree with everyone. But it was a bit tricky because it started out acoustic and then, as you know, electric parts come into it. So, we rehearsed it for a long time <already in Headly Grange>, I played acoustic, and therefore I jumped up and grabbed an electric guitar. Robert sat in the corner, or rather leaned against the wall, and while I tormented the rest of the band with this idea and composition, he just wrote. Suddenly he got up and started to sing, right in the middle of another attempt, and there was already about eighty percent of the current text.
Now a word to Robert Plant:
My hand suddenly began to write down the words: “There is a lady who is sure that all that glitters is gold, and she is buying a ladder to Heaven.” I just sat there and looked at them and then almost jumped in my chair.
Meaning of the song Stairway to Heaven
What is this legendary composition about? Plant explained the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven as “a cynical remark about a woman who constantly gets everything she wants without giving any attention or care in return.” However, in another interview he said:
Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song differently. And despite the fact that it was I who wrote the text.
Robert later cited “Magic in Celtic Britain” by antiquary Lewis Spence as one of his inspirations, but some music lovers still believe the song was inspired by Tolkien’s novels.
“There is a lady…stairway to heaven”
The first verse of the song begins with a lady. She is buying everything she sees in the market. Also, she is of the wrong assumption that everything that glitters is gold. This means she is not able to find out which goods are of good quality and which ones are not. She is randomly buying everything that she sees. In other words, she is simply wasting money.
The woman is leading a materialistic life. This will not buy her stairway to heaven. When she reaches heaven, may be all doors are closed for her. The writer says that when the pursuit of the woman for materialistic life will not get her anything in after life. She is ignoring this fact.
Once she reaches she is gonnna regret for her actions. It is high time she starts realizing this. The writer uses a beautiful metaphor here. He compares the shops in the market to the stores in heaven. The woman is spending on the stores here only to find a closed store in heaven. This means the when we lead a less materialistic life, more stores in heaven open for us.
“There is a sign…thoughts are misgiven”
In the second verse, the song moves into a spiritual meaning. There is a beautiful allegory in this verse. There are several signs in the world that tell us we should find our ways to heaven. But we choose not to follow these ways. Just like the woman we choose to live a materialistic life. People fail to find their way to heaven because they lag faith. Many do not believe there is heaven.
By “sign on the wall”, the writer says that the world is giving you directions and instructions to reach heaven. But we fail to understand them. We choose the other meaning of these instructions and fail to reach heaven.
The writer calls himself a bird. Just like him, there are several people saying that, you are being misguided by your materialistic thirst. The writer calls these people birds. These birds are sitting by the side of a stream. The people warning you are well aware of the path to heaven. They lead a secluded saint like life. By comparing these people to a bird by a stream, the writer tries to say that these people lead a peaceful saint like life. They are always happy. They know what exactly they want. The birds do not run after cars or jewelry. They only search for food, reproduce and die. In other words, the birds come to earth only for a reason. They go back after they finish their work.
The materialistic life will not allow you to find out why you are here.
“There is a feeling…who stand looking”
In this verse, the writer digs deeper into his spiritual thoughts. The writer is unable to bear the pain caused by life. His sufferings have increased and he wants to leave. He wants to put an end to his pain. He believes that heaven is the only place to end his pain.
The writer uses a metaphor here, “Smoke through the trees”. Smoke is the problem faced by him. Tree is the writer himself. He wants to move past these problems.
The writer has no one to help him through his problems. All the people around him are only staring at him. They are talking about his sufferings but are not ready to help him. This frustrates him and makes him want to leave this world.
“And it is whispered…with laughter”
The people living here on the earth are calling for salvation. However, the voice of these people is feeble and it is heard only as a whisper. This is because only a few people call for salvation. The only way to increase the sound of these voices is through music. Music can help bring many to the spiritual path. Only music can help increase the voice of the people calling for salvation.
The writer also says that music can fight the dark forces on the earth. The dark forces force you to take the path of materialistic life.
People should learn to replace the smoke (problems) with laughter. They can achieve this through music.
“If there is a bustle…stairway to heaven”
The writer says that we should never be shaken up with our problems. Rather we should try and find new opportunities in our problems.
There are two paths you can choose. One is the path way to heaven (spiritual path) and the other is the path way to materialistic life.
Stairway to Heaven scandals
In the early 1980s, a scandal erupted around Stairway to Heaven, which was caused by rumors of a satanic message allegedly hidden in the song. Say, if you scroll it in the opposite direction, you can hear a phrase glorifying the devil. Jimmy Page’s fascination with the works of occultist Aleister Crowley only added fuel to the fire, although the Led Zeppelin member denied the allegations and insisted that the song was written solely with good intentions.
Later, critics and music lovers found out that the guitar intro of the song is very reminiscent of the song Taurus by Spirit, for which Led Zeppelin performed as an opening act at the beginning of their career. Moreover, in May 2016, a trial on this issue should take place. We’ll keep you posted on what’s happening.
Opinions about the song Stairway to Heaven
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Stairway to Heaven #31 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and VH1 ranked it #3 on its 100 Greatest Rock Songs. All the achievements of the composition can be listed for a very long time: the best guitar solo according to the readers of “Guitar World”, one of the most played and sold songs on the radio, and so on.
Jimmy Page has always considered Stairway to Heaven to be one of the band’s greatest achievements, but Robert Plant has repeatedly spoken about Stairway to Heaven in an unflattering way and for many years categorically refused to sing it, making exceptions only on very important occasions. Once he even called it a “wedding song.”
- In concert, Jimmy Page performed Stairway to Heaven on double neck guitar. At the same time, he allowed himself to improvise, which is why the duration of the song stretched to fifteen minutes.
- In the movie Wayne’s World, the main character tries to play Stairway to Heaven in a record store, but the clerk interrupts and shows a No Stairway to Heaven sign. It is said that such inscriptions can be found in many American places selling guitars, because the song is constantly trying to play inept beginners.
- Someone Gordon Roy from Scotland in memory of a deceased friend tattooed the lyrics on his back.
- In 1991, John Sebastian radio station KLSK FM launched the song on the air for a whole day. So he celebrated the transition to the classic rock format.
Stairway to Heaven Lyrics
There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven
There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder
There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder
And it’s whispered that soon
If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the may queen
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
And it makes me wonder
Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know,
The pipers calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow,
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven