Led Zeppelin left a lasting impression on the hard rock genre. In addition to the sonic footprint left by the four iconic musicians, Robert Plant’s pastoral musings would help establish the connection between heavy music and fantasy themes. Over the time, Plant seems to have grown distant from the ideas championed by his younger self, as he tells Rolling Stone in a new interview.
Robert Plant opens up on “Stairway to Heaven”
Still, Plant seems to have a much more positive on the Zeppelin classic “Stairway to Heaven”, as he admitted of still being “overwhelmed” when he listens to it. Speaking about the song’s construction and lyrical meaning, Plant began:
“I used to say it in Zeppelin, ‘This is a song of hope.’ And it’s crazy, really, because it was gargantuan at the time. The musical construction was, at its time, something very special, and I know that Jimmy and the guys were really, really proud of it, and they gave it to me and said, ‘What are you going to do about this?’
“So I set about trying to write something which I suppose drops into the same idiom as something like ‘The Rover’ later on, or maybe ‘Rain Song,’ something where there’s some optimism and reflection from someone who was really not [old]. I was 23 or something like that.”
Plant went on to describe his current impression of the song:
“And so what do I think now? When I hear it in isolation, I feel overwhelmed for every single reason you could imagine. There was a mood and an air of trying to make it through. The world is a different place. Everybody was reeling from Vietnam and the usual extra helping of corruption with politics. There were people who were really eloquent who brought it home far less pictorially and did a much better job of reaching that point. But I am what I am, and as my grandfather said, ‘I can’t be more ‘am’-erer.”
He also said, “I can see from this window the hill where Tolkien used to sit and look out over the landscape, and that’s the Shire, and the village just below it is called Bagginswood. I was living in a dream then, talking about C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. And of course it brings hoops of derision into everybody who picked up a guitar or got near a microphone by 1980. But I was a kid.
“I was 22 when I wrote ‘Ramble On’ with Jimmy, so what do I know? I know a lot more about Tolkien now, because it’s still alive on the Welsh borders. ‘The Battle of Evermore’ is not over. Far from it. And the thing about ‘Evermore’ is … I said to Alison, ‘I’m embarrassed by this.’ She said, ‘But you can’t be embarrassed, because it’s a young person’s moments by living in an area which is like that, which resonates that period.’ But of course that’s oblique, really, because that period is right now too.
“It’s all the same thing. It’s just that I was obsessed by Louis Spence and C.S. Lewis and the whole idea of the Inklings and the people that used to meet with Tolkien in Oxford and try and wish that they could revive the spirit of what had happened at the turn of the 20th Century. ‘Bring it back. Bring it back.’”