Robert Plant prefers "Stairway To Heaven" as an instrumental

Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 November 2019, 9:16AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Robert Plant has seemed to enjoy diving into his catalog with Led Zeppelin and as a solo artist on his Digging Deep podcast.

In doing so, the rock icon has revealed some misgivings about his own work, laying bare some of his insecurities about his competence as a musician, particularly in comparison to his Led Zeppelin band mates.

During one podcast this summer, the singer explained that there are some Led Zeppelin tunes to which he can't bare to listen, due to both to the timbre of his voice and the depth (or lack-thereof) in his lyrics. Through the years he's maintained "Stairway to Heaven" has remained close to his heart, though he hasn't made a habit of performing it live.

In a new conversation with Ultimate Classic Rock, the singer says that while he's proud of "Stairway," his relationship to the song has changed over the years.

"Of course, it was a good song," he qualified. "The construction of the song, the actual musical construction is very, very good. It's one of those moments that really can stand without a vocal — and, in fact, it will stand again without a vocals, I'm sure, because it's a fine, fine piece of music."

Plant's comments continue a theme of him downplaying the timelessness of his creative input in Led Zeppelin.

He added that "lyrically, now I can't relate to it, because it was so long ago. ...I would have no intention ever to write along those abstract lines anymore. I look at it and tip my hat to it, and I think there are parts of it that are incredible. The way that Jimmy [Page] took the music through, and the way that the drums ... almost climaxed and then continued. ...It's a very beautiful piece. But lyrically now, even vocally, I go, 'I'm not sure about that.'"

Like most singers, Plant's voice has changed over the years. He has long suggested that part of the reason he has declined opportunities to reunite Led Zeppelin is because he can't sing like he used to.

Plant has seemed to suggest often that he prefers the current range and character of his voice to what it was 50 years ago, but more curiously he's continued to wring his hands over the subject matter of his lyrics from the old days. Looking back, he says he's uncomfortable with how apolitical Led Zeppelin was during its heyday.

"My peer group were writing substantial piece of social commentary," Plant said in an interview with Planet Rock this past spring," and I was willowing along the Welsh borders thinking about Gollum."

"Stairway To Heaven" is one of the rare songs that is so iconic, it's a cliché, and the lyrics of the song have long been the subject of debate. While many people believe the song is about greed, "Stairway" is also one of the most popular rock songs to be played at funerals.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission