Stairway to Heaven

Tonight the kids and I sat glued to the radio.

The station had solicited listeners’ top 10 rock songs of all time, compiled them by duplicate and played the top 1,000 in order, starting Wednesday morning.

We made our lists. We made predictions. The disc jockey would say, ‘Coming up next, a song by Queen,’ and we would all guess which it would be. Once, he said, ‘After the commercial, you’ll get a song that was written for a boy whose parents were divorcing, that’s become a popular sing-along.’

I totally guessed it.

We were in and out of the countdown for meals, sleep, and Thanksgiving, checking online to see what we missed, but today we turned it on for the top 40 throughout the house.

At number 19 I had to go grocery shopping. The kids had to call me each time a song came on while I was in the store.

Only one of the songs on my top 10 was in the overall top 10 — Back in Black by AC/DC, at No. 8. My son hit with No. 7, Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.

All of us predicted Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin would be No. 1. It was — which brings me, finally, to my story of the day.

One year we were at our friends’ poolside on the Fourth of July. I was doing an acrostic puzzle. I love an acrostic puzzle.

The clue was “He wrote Stairway to Heaven,” 10 letters.

Ten letters? Don’t they mean nine, or 11?

I worked out the whole quote and transfered the letters. The answer: Neil Sedaka.

No way.

I showed it around, because by now everyone had been trying to think of someone with a 10-letter name who could have written it.

My husband said, “No way.” The Bonadimans said, “No way.” Guess what the Booths said.

I tucked that bit of astounding trivia in my brain and pulled it out occasionally, so I could hear people say, “No way.”

Then I got in the car with my mom one day, and NPR was interviewing songwriters. Steven Tyler was talking. Oh boy. My favorite.

Next up, the interviewer said, the writer of Stairway to Heaven.

“Oh, I know who that is,” I told Mom. “Neil Sedaka.”

“No way.”

She got to look right, because some other dude came on the radio and talked about how the song came to him.

I stopped pulling out this astounding trivia tidbit.

This year I was listening on another station to the author of “Sounds Like Teen Spirit, Stolen Melodies, Ripped-Off Riffs, and the Secret History of Rock and Roll.”

It turns out — and I know people are gonna start e-mailing me — but it turns out Led Zeppelin was a cover band.

Here’s where they stole Whole Lotta Love, and here’s the original version of the No. 1 rock song of all time.

The final word: Randy California wrote Stairway to Heaven.

That’s all the thinking I want to do about this song and its writer. I don’t even like Led Zeppelin.

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7 Responses to “Stairway to Heaven”

  1. Jeremy A. Says:

    I believe that if it wasn’t for ”Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin would just be another band in the music industry.

    Recently I found an interesting version of that song played by Frank Zappa (and the Mothers of Invention).

    I also recomend watching this cover of “Let It Be”:

  2. Jeremy A. Says:

    The url’s didn’t appear.
    I hope this time it works…

    Frank Zappa’s “Stairway to Heaven”:

    Worst Cover Ever of “Let It Be”

    Hope you enjoy. =D

  3. Will Says:

    I really only like Radio 4 and 7. Otherwise, I’m not bothered.

  4. T. Says:

    And as long as I’m making my readership hate me, I also can’t stand U2, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Edie Brickell, The Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam.

  5. Jeremy A. Says:

    In 2003 Rolling Stone (Magazine) made a special list of the Greatest 500 Songs of All Time.

    Guess where “Stairway to Heaven” is placed at?
    Its not #1
    Its not in the top 10
    Its not in the top 20
    Its not in the top 30

    “Stairway to Heaven” is listed at #31

    Now guess what song is placed at #1?

    To find out the answer, go to: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs

  6. roberto Says:

    Led Zep is the best. They were essentially a blues band, and blues bands gotta do covers. And they did plenty. So did the Beatles. There is an ancient tradition of handing down music from generation to generation. What a weird thing if everybody only performed originals.

    I liked the Stones right up till Some Girls, then became supremely indifferent. I don’t get the U2 or Pearl Jam thing. Nirvana was too much angst and a total downer.

    “No way” is the appropriate reaction to the concept that he wrote Stairway. The more appropriate reaction is “No fucking way in hell. What are you? High?”.

  7. T. Says:

    Mystery solved! Neil Sedaka had a song called Stairway to Heaven that came out in 1960.
    Hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5rYRWMGBqw

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