Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stairway to Heaven

If there's one song I wish I liked, it's Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". It's one of the most revered rock songs ever. I've tried to like it so many times. I like a lot of other Led Zeppelin songs. Most people who attack "Stairway to Heaven" attack everything it stands for - long songs, guitar solos, etc. which are all things I like. I don't like the Velvet Underground either, but I'm not a punk/alternative/indie fan so it doesn't cause me problems. "Stairway to Heaven" is my kind of music and I'm supposed to like it, but I don't.

The first part is boring and lasts way too long. There's no hook to the melody. The drums come in too late and too loud. It reminds me of one of Genesis's weaker songs - the early Genesis with Peter Gabriel. Then everybody told me it got REALLY HEAVY at the end - it doesn't. After about five minutes of dull folk-rock it turns into a nice mellow ballad with LOUD DRUMS. There are lots of songs that start quiet and end loud. "Stairway to Heaven" is not one of them. It stays quiet and mellow thruout apart from the LOUD DRUMS. It isn't even heavy for its era or its album. Lots of stuff in 1971 was way heavier. I love Jimmy Page's guitar solo tho. I'm sick of hearing how it turns into this hard rock song because it doesn't.

Plus their drummer John Bonham is overrated. He's a very good drummer but he's the most overrated drummer in rock music. I don't know why people hold him up as the ultimate rock drummer. He never played quiet. After the first album or two he quit using lots of cymbals and I like cymbals and open hi-hats. After a while he played the same on every song. I already hate te drumming on "Stairway to Heaven", but "Kashmir" is another song with drumming that doesn't fit. Most of his drum parts are boring and a lot of them don't fit the music. I like a few of his drum parts, like "When the Levee Breaks", "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", and "Communication Breakdown". But most of them don't work. I'd play them very different.

Bonham's still a good drummer. He's better than about 90% of rock drummers. He could play way better than I can. But he's not as good as Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), BJ Wilson (Procol Harum), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Ginger Baker (Cream), or even Keith Moon (The Who). Bonham had a great sense of groove, but he had no sense of dynamics or fitting the music. So a lot of songs have drums that are way too loud or too quiet. Too bad everyone else thinks he's the best ever. If you say John Bonham is overrated, 5,000,000 Led Zeppelin fans attack you for blasphemy. This is why everyone considers him the god of drums when he's not. Nobody is. They don't want Led Zeppelin fans to kill them.

Now that I've pissed everyone off, I say King Crimson's "Starless" takes everything "Stairway to Heaven" does and does it better. Better melody, better lyrics, an awesome quiet-to-loud build-up, and some of the best drumming ever courtesy of Bill Bruford. There's no normal guitar solo, but there is an awesome sax solo and a guitar noise solo during the loud heavy part. And I get way more feeling from "Starless" than I ever did from "Stairway to Heaven".

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