Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven | Lyrics Meaning & Song Review

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If you were to be asked about your choice of the greatest rock song of all time, it would be a rather tedious trip down memory lane. So, let us take care of your troubles. Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has often been dubbed the “greatest rock song of all time” or even “the greatest song of all time” by countless masses across the world. It’s not entirely sugar coated, but closer to reality than fiction. Why do we say it? Let’s take a look at the song’s lyrics and their meanings to find out.

“Stairway to Heaven” was released as a non-single on the untitled Led Zeppelin fourth studio album. The album is therefore called “Led Zeppelin IV” released on November 8, 1971. Although it was not released as a single, this track was one of the most played and requested songs on radio in the 1970s. And this is especially important considering that the track was 8 minutes and 2 seconds long, making it the longest song list of all time.

Who wrote “The staircase to paradise”?

Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page wrote the lyrics for the entire song. The writing process is said to have lasted several months from May to December 1970. However, additional lyrics were added during the recording of the song.

What song is “Stairway to Heaven” based on?

In 2015, an estate administrator for Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin and their iconic hit. The copyright infringement lawsuit claimed that “Stairway to Heaven” copied the riff from a song called “Taurus” by the band Spirit. However, in 2016, Led Zeppelin was cleared of this lawsuit, ruling that it had not been copied. NME says the case was reopened in 2018.

What makes “Stairway to Heaven” such an iconic hit?

There are several reasons. For some it is the greatest piece of lyrics ever written. For some it is the greatest guitar work ever. However, many of them would also agree that this is a combination of lyrics, music, mix of genres and elaborate song, which means she embodies.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song as Led Zeppelin’s second best work on their discography;

“Led Zeppelin IV’s powerful ballad towers over 70s rock like a monolith. From the Elizabethan vibe of its acoustic introduction to Plant’s lyrical mysticism to Page’s spiraling solo, the eight-minute song is a slow-intensity masterpiece that holds back power, then soars skyward like nothing. in rock. “It just speeds up like an adrenaline rush,” said Page, whose improvisation on the spot was the perfect complement to Plant’s evocation of excess and salvation. “It was an important step for us. “

“Stairway to Heaven” begins at a slow tempo with acoustic instruments and high but solemn vocals by Robert Plant. Soon, it evolves towards a mixture of electronic instruments and towards an up-tempo. The song then evolves into a hard rock anthem with a deafening voice. The final part is reduced to an acapella with intensely powerful vocals. In this process, the track crosses three main genres; progressive rock, folk-rock and hard rock.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Stairway to Heaven” as 8th place in the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” and at 31st place in the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the song into its list of “500 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. The Oscars awarded the song the “Grammy Hall of Fame Award”. VH1 magazine ranked the song # 3 on the list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time. The RIAA ranked the song 53rd on “Songs of the Century”.

Who wrote “Stairway to Heaven”?

The main protagonist of the song is an unnamed woman who is characterized as “greedy”. However, this person does not relate to any particular actual figure. Rather, it is a symbol of this world of materialism and consumerism.

What is the meaning of the song “Stairway to Heaven”?

Robert Plant’s idea of ​​why this song became such a classic hit was due to its “abstraction.” He explained this further; “depending on the day, I always perform the song in a different way – and I wrote the lyrics.” So that leaves us very little room to elaborate on the full spectrum of meanings that this song might include in a person. But we will try!

Essentially, “Stairway to Heaven” is about a woman who deludes herself about the ways of the world. Line “And she buys a staircase to heaven” sums up the idea behind the song, which is nonsense in its essence. You cannot “buy” your way to paradise. You must “yield” your way to heaven.

The song has also been linked to religious themes. From God to Mother Mary to Satan himself, different words have been perceived differently by fans and critics around the world. Because, as the song says, “You know, sometimes words have two meanings. “

Maybe it’s not a song to understand. It may be a song to feel deep inside us.

Listen to “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Download the song “Stairway to Heaven” from Apple Music and Amazon

Does “Stairway to Heaven” contain a satanic message?

Another popular belief is that this classic rock hit is actually devil worship itself. The claim is raised against the fourth verse of the song. It is said that when this verse is played backwards it looks like “Here is my sweet Satan / The one whose little path would make me sad whose power is Satan / He will give you, he will give you 666 / There was a small tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.” However, Led Zeppelin strongly denied this claim.

Lyrics review and meaning of the song “Stairway to Heaven”

Verse 1

The first verse of the song immediately sets the stage for the whole song. The singer is about a woman lost in wealth. She was a “Woman getting everything she wanted all the time without giving back any thought or consideration.” The first line begins with this cynical sweep of the hand… and it softened thereafter ”, said Robert Plant.

This section of the song also alludes to the popular ‘Lord of the Rings’ high fiction novel series written by JRR Tolkien. In the book, is a poem beginning with “All that is gold does not shine …”

This woman is able to get, or rather buy, anything she wants in this world. She therefore assumes that it is the same situation in the hereafter. Her delusions lead her to try to buy her way to paradise. But the sky works the exact opposite. You earn merit by giving. So her ticket can find her at Pearly Gates of Heaven, closed for her.

Led Zeppelin says that sometimes words have two meanings. Indeed, they do! But how this relates to this particular situation is a mystery.

Verse 2

The song now turns away from this specific woman and takes on a much more general meaning.

“West” is the direction of sunset and a clear metaphor for all that is dark and dreary, including death. This ties into the next line that says the singer’s spirit is crying to leave this world.

“Smoke rings through the trees”, once again, disconcerting to make the connection with the theme of the song. This is one of the reasons this song has also been referred to as a psychedelic drug experience. In reference to The Lord of the Rings, it could be the character of Gandalf, a wizard, often seen blowing smoke rings from his pipe.

Verse 3

The “Piper” in the third verse of “Stairway to Heaven” is often seen as a representation of God. Much like the story of Hamelin’s Pied Piper, God will only lead His children to salvation if subjects “set the tone” or adhere to His ways. For those who stand by his side, a better day will dawn tomorrow.

Verse 4

The verse that has been tagged as a satanic call when played backwards ironically has the heaviest religious influence on the entire song. The Queen of May is annotated as Mother Mary to whom the month of May is dedicated. It could also mean the “early spring” as Robert Plant explains.

Led Zeppelin also suggests that there is free will in the world and that one can choose whatever path seems best. But in the end, everyone will realize that there is only one right way. It could be a religious path or a Pharisaic path. But the group wants you to remember that it is never too late to correct your path.

Watch Led Zeppelin play live

Verse 5

When the right time comes, we all have to go. Above or below, we have to walk in the hereafter. This is the Piper’s call to everyone and it is a guarantee. Zeppelin speaks directly to this “greedy woman” who is the protagonist of the story but who also represents us all in this world. The singer tells her that the Heaven Staircase ticket isn’t something you buy with gold, silver, or dollars. It is something that you earn by giving all you have. This knowledge resides in the “whispering wind” which could be a reference to common knowledge. “Wind whisper” could also mean “prayer”.


In the song deck, Led Zeppelin sums up the idea of ​​the song so far.

The singer paints a picture of the last stage in a person’s life. It’s the end of the road and the sun is setting casting a longer shadow. There will (hopefully) be angels to guide us to the next dawn of our lives. And if you listen carefully enough, not to anything or anyone else, but yourself in all honesty, you will learn what is needed for this next trip. And on this path, everything turns to gold, even those that do not shine!

“When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll “

The lyrics above are perhaps some of the most creative in this song. Led Zeppelin declares that we are all one and that we are all one. If everyone thought this way, there would be no problem in this world. But this is a utopian statement like “Imagine” by John Lennon.

“To be a rock and not to roll” Not only does a rock n roll genre play on words, it also delivers a message. A rock represents something stable and strong. “Roll” must be volatile and unstable. This line is in contrast to the popular idiom “the rolling stone does not collect moss”. This is a good example to illustrate that this complex world cannot be defined or explained in an infallible statement or idiom. Everything is subjective.


The final cry of “And she buys a staircase to heaven” is as powerful as the rest of the song. Despite everything that has been said and done, this woman still keeps her habits, a bit like this world. But there is hope, as distant as it may seem.

All of this intricacy, vibe, and chaos of “Stairway to Heaven” makes it such a perfect creation to discuss its theme, which is essentially human life.

Let us know what you think of the song by leaving a comment below.

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