Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Top Stairway

"There would be one long stairway just going up"
- Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack, "If I Were A Rich Man"

Our local station for "Classic Rock" (translated as "the music that, in saner times, used to just be called 'Rock' without need of further modifier") had their annual Thanksgiving Weekend "Top 1043 songs of all time" contest. Once again this year, as in 2006 and 2005 and every other year in living memory, the #1 song was - drum solo please - Led Zep's Stairway to Heaven.

And once again this year, I admit to being genuinely at a loss to understand this. Why does this song - one that was never even released as a single in the US - have an unbreakable hold on the top spot?

Don't get me wrong. I like StH, I truly do. It's a great song. But I can easily list 25 rock songs I personally prefer to StH, and probably at least 100 others that I like as much. I've never even met anyone whose favorite song is StH. So why does it win every single year, in every top 10xx countdown, on every (classic) rock station I've ever listened to?

Is it some kind of musical Harmonic Convergence? Does StH somehow appeal to fans of every possible sub-genre of Rock, such that even if it isn't the favorite of any one group of fans, it gets enough votes from every sector to always garner a majority?

Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy, via some kind of subconscious ballot stuffing by the collective rock-listening public?

Do the stations just automatically place StH in the top spot without regard to the actual voting? Is it the Third-World Dictator of rock music?

Is it a time paradox: Does StH always win because it always did win?

Or is it simply the title? Is the "Heaven" that the "Stairway" leads to nothing more or less than a permanent #1 slot in countdowns?

In all seriousness - does anyone have a plausible theory?


At 11/26/07, 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember several years in Baltimore the winner was usually "Layla," which I prefer to S2H.

Soccer Dad's former roommate

At 11/27/07, 2:56 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Over the years I have begun to grow a bit tired of it. Blasphemy I know, but...

At 11/27/07, 7:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STH is rock history, for sure.

Please help Melanie.
Thank you,
Jim Baldwin
Spokane WA

At 11/29/07, 12:48 AM, Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

The song has lots of the qualities that make people like Zeppelin: appealing melodies, guitar parts, licks, solos, etc., all in an unusually elaborate and sustained example of song-construction. Some of the off-putting aspects (the pretentiousness and pseudo-religiosity) probably actually earn it points with the average Joe.

At 11/29/07, 4:20 PM, Blogger LEL said...

I don't have a theory. As great a song as it is, I too have grown tired of it and there are many other Zeppelin songs that I prefer.

At 11/29/07, 10:24 PM, Blogger Elie said...

I think Yitzchak has a point. Perhaps StH is so big because it has something for fans of every genre: prog rock, arena rock, blues, ballads. It's the Titanic of rock songs.

At 12/5/07, 6:54 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I just saw this.


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