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Meaning of Stairway to Heaven


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#1 Earthhuman

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 07:06 PM

I was talking about this on songmeanings.net, and I came up with an interesting theory. Nobody knows what Stairway to Heaven was really about, and while there are some good interpretations, I like mine the best. Here it is:

This isn't about going to heaven at all. This is about the time we do have to live, think, breathe, enjoy. I think the idea of an afterlife is the problem in this song, that people spend every Sunday of their lives for something that may not even exist, when they could be appreciating what they have. Take the good with the bad, learn, grow, and most importantly, don't thank god for it all. Just be thankful.

Now I'm going to dissect the lyrics, you can skip this part and take my word for it:

"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold And she's buying a stairway to heaven." Meaning that it’s not enough that it's beautiful, she wants more than she sees.

"When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed With a word she can get what she came for." Reference to when she dies- when she gets there, she can repent and she will get heaven when everyone else gets hell. “Amen”

"There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure 'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings, Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven."
The Church says its so, but eventually, no matter who you are, there will be doubt. You see the songbird by the brook, and find that you're kinda fond of what you have on earth. Paradise is already here. Maybe a thousand years of tradition was just a bunch of tortured/persecuted Christians who didn't think that boiling in a cauldron was good enough.

“There's a feeling I get when I look to the west, And my spirit is crying for leaving. In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees, And the voices of those who standing looking.” Spirit wants to enjoy the world. Sitting with a bunch of people who never question isn’t enough anymore. The last part of that is about the people who appreciate nature.

“And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us to reason. And a new day will dawn for those who stand long And the forests will echo with laughter.” When people start to realize this, we will be reasonable, throw off this dream of heaven, and the unknown wont be a problem anymore. Help me out here: “For those who stand long”- who’s that?

“If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, It's just a spring clean for the May queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run There's still time to change the road you're on.” Don’t worry about the bad things in life, like a period in this case, take them in stride and see what good things come out of it. Two paths= wasted life and appreciative life. “Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know, The piper's calling you to join him, Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.” You ignore your doubt, but it persists… you can join the world, accept it as the best we get… whispering wind is akin to Paradise on Earth.

“And as we wind on down the road Our shadows taller than our soul. There walks a lady we all know Who shines white light and wants to show How everything still turns to gold. And if you listen very hard The tune will come to you at last. When all are one and one is all To be a rock and not to roll.”
As we approach the end, we see that the world was beautiful all along, but it’s too late to go back and enjoy it. We get old. So…:

“And she's buying a stairway to heaven.” She still hopes that faith in God will get her more time, another paradise.
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What do you all think? I know it's the polar opposite of the conventionally accepted interpretation, but I think it fits really well. I know my description gets weak at the end- that's out of laziness.

#2 rage

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 11:37 PM

I always think of the Catholic Church.

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#3 auxlepli

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 08:39 AM

Just words that go well with the tune. That's what it means to me.

#4 JayUp88

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 09:53 AM

They were on so many drugs when they wrote it i'm sure even they don't know what it means.
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#5 zata40

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 12:32 PM

there is a drug paraphernalia store called stairway to heaven in Ann arbor
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#6 jaytan

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 01:06 PM

I don't really know the song, but judging from the lyrics you quoted, I'd mostly agree with your interpretation. Of course, that doesn't mean the original authors intended it that way. The beauty of poetry is that it can have a different meaning to every person and if the author doesn't reveal his actual intent (or if he doesn't remember because he was on dope or whatever), all interpretations are as valid as the arguments presented by the interpreter.

For an example, just listen to the Beatles' White Album. They're calling out to Jesus (who has been reborn and is residing in Los Angeles) because they're too lazy to cross the Atlantic and meet up with him. They know that an apocalyptic race war is on the horizon, and they are instructing Jesus where to hide out while the war rages so that he can rule when the smoke clears.

But if you don't interpret the album correctly, you miss all of those subtle clues.
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#7 Izzy24

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 04:59 PM

Robert Plant has said it means whatever you want it to mean. It's like a paint-by-numbers, he has provided the outline, you fill in the colors as you see fit.

Uh, the guy...the guy across the street is swee...sweeping his driveway and he...he...heduzzntevinow.

#8 auxlepli

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Posted 19 December 2007 - 05:51 PM

QUOTE(Izzy24 @ December 19, 2007 - 04:59PM) View Post

Robert Plant has said it means whatever you want it to mean. It's like a paint-by-numbers, he has provided the outline, you fill in the colors as you see fit.


Exactly.
I think he was trying to say that we should all live as one.
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#9 Jeremy88

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 08:58 AM

It's about heroin
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#10 lfd250

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 10:10 AM

yea, drugs. I remember being in high school in 92 and they said we couldn't use it for a class song because it was all about drugs. Lady looking for drugs, once she finds the place all see needs to do is ask and they share. Heaven is being wacked out because the birds talk to you and everything else is great no worries. Two paths is get more drugs and get clean.

I hate to break it to you but Puff the Magic Dragon is a drug song too.
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#11 Echolalia

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 06:24 PM

I think its about combining the right words to make a badass backwards song actually work

#12 Izzy24

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 06:34 PM

Y'all might find this interesting, it has forward/backward audio clips.

Uh, the guy...the guy across the street is swee...sweeping his driveway and he...he...heduzzntevinow.

#13 jaytan

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 08:35 PM

I love backmasking.

There's a rap song by Lil Wayne in which - when played backward - you hear him talk about stabbing a chick to death, making some guy OD to death, say something about Satan in a Jamaican accent and a bunch of other funny stuff. The fun part is that he says something in the forward version like, "I never killed anybody, but if you try me you'll have to play this back and rewind this track."
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#14 GMRwings1983

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 10:07 PM

QUOTE(Jeremy88 @ December 20, 2007 - 07:58AM) View Post

It's about heroin


No, you're thinking of Alice in Chains. Their songs were about heroin. As for Zeppelin, I've always loved their music, but have never been a huge fan of their lyrics. I guess there's different reasons to like a band.
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#15 Jeremy88

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Posted 21 December 2007 - 12:01 PM

QUOTE(GMRwings1983 @ December 20, 2007 - 10:07PM) View Post

No, you're thinking of Alice in Chains. Their songs were about heroin. As for Zeppelin, I've always loved their music, but have never been a huge fan of their lyrics. I guess there's different reasons to like a band.



Long live Alice in Chains, one of my favorite bands.

There's tons of different reasons to like a band. Why do you think Bob Dylan has any fans? The guy can't sing for crap, but he's one hell of a songwriter.
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#16 jaytan

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Posted 21 December 2007 - 01:07 PM

QUOTE(Jeremy88 @ December 21, 2007 - 12:01PM) View Post

Long live Alice in Chains


Aren't they already dead?

At least the singer.
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#17 Earthhuman

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Posted 21 December 2007 - 09:46 PM

QUOTE(JayUp88 @ December 19, 2007 - 09:53AM) View Post

They were on so many drugs when they wrote it i'm sure even they don't know what it means.


Thank you for your contribution.

QUOTE(Jeremy88 @ December 20, 2007 - 08:58AM) View Post

It's about heroin


You too.

#18 DetroitIan

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 09:09 PM

I think it's about their personal experiences. Therefore, no one can truly know exactly what it means unless you lived it. For all we know, the "lady" might be them. Im sure they used metaphors to sing about what the feel. All I know is, it's a beautiful song. And the great thing about Led Zeppelin is, even though Stairway to Heaven is an amazing song, they have a several songs that I like even more than Stairway. Led Zeppelin = Greatest Band of All Time.
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#19 Jeremy88

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 09:19 PM

QUOTE(DetroitIan @ December 22, 2007 - 09:09PM) View Post

I think it's about their personal experiences. Therefore, no one can truly know exactly what it means unless you lived it. For all we know, the "lady" might be them. Im sure they used metaphors to sing about what the feel. All I know is, it's a beautiful song. And the great thing about Led Zeppelin is, even though Stairway to Heaven is an amazing song, they have a several songs that I like even more than Stairway. Led Zeppelin = Greatest Band of All Time.


I agree with everything you just said there except one thing....Zep is only the 2nd greatest band of all time...The Beatles hold the #1 spot cool.gif
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#20 DetroitIan

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 10:07 PM

QUOTE(Jeremy88 @ December 22, 2007 - 09:19PM) View Post

I agree with everything you just said there except one thing....Zep is only the 2nd greatest band of all time...The Beatles hold the #1 spot cool.gif



Guess it just depends on what your taste is. As much as I fully respect the Beatles in every way, Im not really into that their style as much as I am Led Zeppelin's. Im more into the intensity and deepness, as opposed to more soft head swaying tunes. Which sometimes Im totally in the mood for. But not always. Im always in the mood to hear some Zeppelin though. Both legendary bands. And most would argue they are either number 1 or 2. Thank you England. laugh.gif

Edited by DetroitIan, 22 December 2007 - 10:09 PM.

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