Battle of the Bands: Stairway to Heaven

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This song probably needs no introduction or explanation but here’s what Wikipedia says about the song: “Stairway to Heaven” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in late 1971. It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the band’s untitled fourth studio album (often called Led Zeppelin IV). It is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

The song has three sections, each one progressively increasing in tempo and volume. The song begins in a slow tempo with acoustic instruments (guitar and recorders) before introducing electric instruments. The final section is an uptempo hard rock arrangement highlighted by Page’s intricate guitar solo accompanying Plant’s vocals that end with the plaintive a cappella line: “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”

“Stairway to Heaven” was voted number 3 in 2000 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs, and was placed at number 31 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s, despite never having been commercially released as a single there.

 Here are my battle contestants:

CONTENDER #1: LED ZEPPELIN Live:

The footage is from the concert film “The Song Remains the Same.” The concert took place in Madison Square Garden, New York City.

 

CONTENDER #2: HEART Live:

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, along with Jason Bonham, playing Stairway to Heaven as a tribute for Led Zeppelin on Dec. 2, 2012 at Kennedy Center.

It was televised by CBS on Dec. 26, 2012, but as a short version. This is the full version released on iTunes in 2013.

The honorees were truly impressed, I do believe. What do you think?

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

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45 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands: Stairway to Heaven

  1. This is the toughest battle ever! 😮 I absolutely LOVE this song, both bands and both versions. Well-played, Michele. 😀 Heart’s performance gave me the most chills and I’ve seen them perform it live three times now, so, I just HAVE TO vote for them. Sorry, Led Zep; I still love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Transfixed is a great word and a perfect way to describe the Heart performance. But like you said, LZ is tough to beat.
      Thanks for your vote Lee

      Like

  2. Hi, Michele!

    “Stairway To Heaven” is on the soundtracks of the lives many boomers. I know these artists well and have them in my personal collection including Bonham, Jason Bonham’s band.

    Never before in a band battle have I done such an about face, had my mind changed so convincingly. Before I started listening I wondered if you had lost your marbles, daring to pit any other artist against Plant and company on this rock classic. Version #1 lived up to the legend. The blue hue cast upon the stage and gold back-lighting enhanced the drama and mystery as Zeppelin took their time and laid out their epic three-part opus over a ten minute time period – a truly riveting performance. I was unprepared for what was to come next. Ann’s voice is still one of the finest in rock, and Nancy, Jason and the band along with the huge, soulful chorus proved to me that more is more. The body language and expressions on the faces of the honorees and other people in the audience, including the Obamas, spoke volumes. There was surprise and delight followed by awe, spontaneous bursts of laughter and tears of joy as everyone experienced an historic moment. Heart and friends won me over big time with one of the greatest live performances I have ever seen and heard. Heart gets my vote.

    Thank you very much for presenting these two remarkable videos, Michele. Please take care of yourself and know that I continue to think about you and pray for you during your period of mourning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tom. Isn’t it blissfully ironic, my choice of song for this particular battle? Stairway to Heaven indeed!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed both versions in the battle and that it brought to you a pleasant surprise.

      Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers…

      Like

  3. Great match up. It is always hard to beat the original version of a song, especially a classic like this but I have to go with Heart. Maybe it was the drama of the occasion but their version gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes at the end. Hugs to you and your family at this difficult time.

    Like

    • Me too! The first time I heard the Heart version I literally got chills and tears too! What a performance! That choir sealed the deal…

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I think it’s ironic that my song choice, which I picked a few weeks back, happened to be Stairway to Heaven…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. MICHELE ~
    Without any doubt, THIS was “THE” Rock song of my generation. I went to a huge high school in the Los Angeles area and there probably wasn’t a single student enrolled who didn’t dig this song. I’m not a Led Zeppelin fan. I only like a few of their songs, but naturally this is one of them. Page’s guitar solo on the studio recording (which I actually prefer to this live version) is one of those truly defining Rock solos (along with that solo in ‘Hotel California’ and one or two others I could name).

    It had slipped my mind that two weeks ago you told me you were going to present this BOTB match-up next. So, as soon as I got here and saw the title I remembered and then had a very WOWED, nearly ASTOUNDED reaction. What timing, considering your beloved Dad’s very sad passing on to the other side! I don’t know about you, but I think there may have been some unseen Force at work here. Mary’s Battle last time, you posting a link to the Heart version, me teasing you and essentially saying “Well, so what are you waiting for?” Ha! Your Dad having suddenly climbed the Stairway To Heaven, this is just really uncanny, and I am NOT big in the belief of coincidences.

    Great, great Battle! And if I recall, someone predicted that there would be a lot of very surprised voters here. BINGO! Can you work for me at the next psychic fair?
    [;o)}

    My vote goes to HEART. My vote would have gone to Heart even if you’d put them up against Led Zep’s studio recording. (But you made the right decision in going Live Versus Live, in my opinion.) That HEART version, with all the strings, the horns, background singers and a full chorus at the end is truly “awesome”, and there’s no better word to describe it than that.

    A truly wonderful Battle, Michele, and one that I think will be remembered for a long time for a couple of different reasons.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t it uncanny Stephen? It didn’t hit me until this morning and I was like Whoa! So cool. You’re right, this battle will be remembered for a few different reasons.

      Thanks for making me laugh out loud with your psychic fair comment!!! I needed that this morning! XOXO

      Thanks for your vote. I’ll put you down for ❤

      Like

  5. Sweet Michele, I know this time is hard for you. It took me years to recover from the deaths of my parents. I still miss them, even more as I get older. I thought I would vote for Led Zeppelin, no doubt in my mind. Then I listened to Heart. Their version is so haunting that they earned my vote. Go, Seattle Rockers!

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janie. It’s hard, there’s no doubt about that! I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it…

      Glad you liked the Heart version! They really rocked it!
      Thanks for your vote….and your note. ❤

      Like

  6. Michele, You’re right, this is a fabulous battle! I was pretty sure Led Zepplin would get my vote. I mean, they are the original artists and usually that’s all she wrote but hold on Nellie, I loved Heart’s rendition. The instrumentals and vocals were uber soft placing a near reverence on the classic tune. So, please give my vote to Heart! I can’t believe I voted against Led Zepplin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol, I know, right?! I’m so glad you liked my battle Cathy. Thanks so much for coming by. I’ve got you down for Heart…

      Like

  7. Sometimes, when I see the line up for a battle, I think “I know my vote already.”

    WRONG-O this time! I would have thought Led Zeppelin couldn’t be beat. Heart gets my vote!

    All the components of a great battle, right here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Angel,
    First, I think it is an honour when you hear someone sing something that you have written and performed and brought to greatness. I can imagine how th Led Zeppelin group was feeling. Both versions are excellent but the original has something in it that can never be captured and that is the spirit of intent. Led Zeppelin sang out of the deepness of his own spirit and his experience with life.
    So my vote goes to Led Zeppelin even though I thought the second version was beautiful.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michele, in the end I’m reduced to tears by the HEART version. I cannot hear Ann Wilson play that straight guitar without being reminded of my brother in the Army, years ago. He sent home a tape of him playing this song, and it was so sad and haunting… the first time he’d been away from home. Also, watching Plant tear up just gets to me… and I remember watching the program in 2012. Great battle, Lady!

    Heart gets my vote. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Dixie,
      Great to see you here! Thanks for coming by!
      What a nice memory for you on this song. I bet your brother played it beautifully.
      Another vote for Heart…

      So glad that you’re making the rounds in the battles. Will miss your battles but hopefully you’ll come back to us… ❤

      Like

  10. Fingers crossed – I’m voting again.
    Wow, I was really impressed with Heart. I’ve always liked them, but I was uncertain how well they would be able to perform it. Looks like they did a remarkable job.
    However, I still love the version by Led Zeppelin. It just can’t be beat. At least, in my opinion. I guess we’ll see how the rest of the votes lay down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! The Spam bot is dead! 🙂
      Thanks for your vote. I haven’t done a running tally but I think the contest is pretty close between LZ and <3. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Thanks for your vote Jeffrey!

      Like

  11. I was late to your previous post, but did comment. 😦
    This was a tough battle. When I saw (song unheard) that you posted anyone against Led Zeppelin on this — of all songs — I thought you must be CRAZY. Seriously. This is an iconic song for them. So, imagine my surprise when Heart just blew it out of the water.
    I’m casting a very shocked vote for Heart. It was a lovely tribute. They went all in and it was spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Robin. I know, Heart did a fantastic rendition of the song and I was overcome with emotion when watching it. Glad you liked it…and that you were pleasantly surprised.
      Thanks for your vote!

      Like

  12. I read an article recently where Jimmy Page says that people have been playing this one all wrong, and in seeing him play it, I understand what he means. Heart is wonderful, but this is Zeppelin’s song, so they get my vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. O how how many dances I went to when this song came on and then I would sit and watch them all slow dance until the end when it picked up….the dancing couples had no idea what to do…hahahaaaa. To me, even though Heart was great, Led Zeppelin will always be the one to do this song so they get my vote

    Liked by 1 person

  14. When I saw what song you’d chosen my heart went out to you as even though it’s ten years since my dad died I still feel it so much.

    I thought without a doubt my vote would go to Led Zep but then I saw you’d chosen Heart and there is no contest as they nailed this song and my vote has to go to the girls.

    Take care Michele.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Pamela. There was certainly a jolt when I remembered which song I had chosen to showcase. I keep saying how much I just want my Dad back for at least a week so we could do more things together and have more time together. It’s still so raw. Thanks for your thoughts. They mean a lot to me.

      Another vote for Heart. Can’t wait to see how this battle turns out!
      Thanks for your vote…

      Like

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