Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Remember That: Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven

"...and she's buuuuyyyying the Stairway To Heaven."

-The final words to Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven, a song that could leave any young teen positively beaten in spirit or in a sheer state of ecstasy-

There are many days when I just check out. My mind wanders and ponders the many trivial points of this vast universe like a biker on an open country road.  These thoughts flow coming and going. These thoughts are general reflections of things from my past or that generally amuse me and they will come to you by way of these irregular posts.

Why not?  Reflections on those by-gone days had been simmering for some time.

You know my affection for 80s music.  I love George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice, Volume I [1990], a masterpiece of music composition really.  It was an eighties album to kick off the 1990s, but George I'm still waiting for that second volume already.  Any day would be good my friend.

Of course, there are recordings you would prefer never to hear again.  You know the expression, "If I never hear that song again it will be too soon"?  There's definitely truth in it.  Other times I guess we just need a break - a really long break.

Well I swear once upon a time during the seemingly endless days of high school dances there was always one song to rear its ugly head at the closing of the night.  After a seemingly sweaty few hours of navigating the dance floor, spending time amongst bleacher creatures and generally trying hard not to get noticed by some but still noticed by others, the inevitable end would come.

The close of the night was reserved by the DJ at least in my town and those towns in the general area for Led Zeppelin [1968-1980; 9 albums - what's an album?].  Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven was absolutely positively automatic.  It was of course an endurance test, because the eight minute plus song Stairway To Heaven was an epic.  That ballad was a guarantee.  It was the essential ending to any dance.  Depending on who you were dancing with or whether you were dancing it all and merely gazing at the girl you wanted to dance with dancing with another, it was, in essence, heaven or hell.  Those final minutes were crucial to your identity, to your mental well-being and of course to your fragile heart.  Those were the breaks.  If you were on the gym bleachers staring out at the swaying masses you were pained beyond words.  If you were with the girl of your choice you were positively liberated.  If you happened to be the choice of someone other than that girl it was a long haul of a slog fest on that dance floor.  The same held true for the girls I'm sure.  It's funny to think The Sci-Fi Fanatic either sent home the ladies happy or with marked disappointment. Oh well.  Yes, those were indeed the days.

By God as the final minutes of the dance drew upon us, desperate efforts were either made to secure a dance looking out at the prospects like a wolf to sheep or those less fortunate might have devoted energies to convince the DJ to play anything but Stairway To Heaven.  Despite protests for a three to four minute ballad gem, the DJ spun his records like a red-faced Mephistopheles.  He looked out and he knew the torture he would inflict on some and the heaven on others.  When the opening notes of Led Zeppelin wistfully drifted across the basketball court or dining room's makeshift dance arena, it was all but secured that the night was indeed over.

Sweating profusely, quickly collecting data looking around the room a quick decision was required.  Bodies closed in spaces like celestial heavens.  The pressure was on.  And when the first notes ticked out of those speakers you were about to enter the eight minute fray of Led Zeppelin either alone or with someone, perhaps anyone.  If a decision, good or bad, wasn't made you were assured a bleacher spot along with the nameless rabble of broken hearts strewn across metal stairs like the piles of sweaters and coats that adorned them. You were on the benches, the sidelines or you were dancing softly and sweetly for eight long minutes, a veritable epic in a young man's life of pure, unadulterated passion.  Body to body.  Heat to heat.  It was Stairway To Heaven and the DJ guaranteed that song each and every dance.  And each and every dance those inevitable final moments came like a rousing crescendo of action from the latest Die Hard flick.  You swayed back and forth as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page elevated the tempo beyond ballad as you ascended those stairs.  There was nothing gentle about those moments but they certainly reflected the abnormal pacing of the heartbeat within. It was a rush of sheer joy and pain that every young man should have experienced.  But when those notes lit up the gym like a stately ball, I swear the eyes rolled to the back of the head and I said to myself at least once, "son of a bitch, Stairway To freakin' Heaven again!"  It was quite the trial in the 1970s and 1980s to be sure.  Judging by the images I found, I'm not alone in sharing this feeling.

Nevertheless, today, I actually really love Stairway To Heaven.  What an amazing song.  Without the weight of peer groups and the opposite sex throbbing around me in fuzzy sweaters, I can enjoy that song again.  My son and I have been loading up the blue ghost for trips with everything from Filter and Smashing Pumpkins to Soundgarden and AC/DC to, well, would you look at that, Led Zeppelin.  I plopped down $1.29 for Stairway to Heaven on iTunes along with Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Immigrant Song, Whole Lotta Love, All My Love, Fool In The Rain and some Big Log solo stuff from Robert Plant.

By God I never thought I would have wanted to hear Stairway To bloody Heaven again.  But you know what that song is amazing and I appreciate it in a way I never thought I would have.  And Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin are absa-freakin'-fantastic anyway. To this day, the band ranks among the musical elite.  No one can touch them.


Francisco Gonzalez said...

Dude, send me an e-mail, got an idea for a collaboration!

le0pard13 said...

Awesome, my friend. Simply awesome.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Tku! L13. Fun times!