Friday, January 4, 2013

Heart--Stairway to Heaven (2012)

     Last week the Kennedy Honors program was on CBS. It had been taped on the first week in December and this years honorees included Led Zeppelin. Normally, this kind of event does nothing for me, as I usually find them quite boring. It's not that they, or any other artist deserves/doesn't deserve such honors, but watching musicians do others' famous material isn't my idea of a good time. It's a bias of mine that I try to escape now and then, but honestly, unless a cover is done in a way that brings new or renewed life to a song, I'm generally not interested. This doesn't mean that covers are bad, but in the context of honoring someone else's music, one doesn't generally stray from the original material...which usually equals dull.
     Having said all of this, a friend of mine sent along this video from the proceedings, and was totally blown away. In fact, watching it brought tears to my eyes the first dozen or so times I viewed it. Looking back, I'm not quite sure what exactly it was that brought me to such a state. Watching Robert Plant attempting to keep his composure during a song which had long ago lost it's meaning for him? Seeing Jason Bonham channel his Dad's spirit behind the drums? Seeing the choir with their bowler hats (in honor of the deceased Zeppelin drummer? Hearing Ann Wilson absolutely nail the song with a conviction that made you think that she had been dreaming of a night like this all of her life? Perhaps all of those things, because just like the group was the definition of rock excess in every imaginable way during the 70's, the performance piled on layer after layer. As every piece of the musical cake had been performed to perfection, the choir appeared with the literal cherry on top. You could see it in the, "Oh my" uttered by Plant while Page and Jones looked on with smiles that showed total joy in watching the work performed in this way.
     Those who know the group Heart at all know that covering Zeppelin is not a shock. (listening to them perform 'The Battle of Evermore' should be on your list as well) Watching them play this however is equal to them in a PhD. interview with the head schoolmasters. The Wilson sisters have earned their entrance to the Hall of Fame on their own merits, however for one night, the woman who in her younger years wanted to BE Robert Plant, got her wish.   


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