I stumbled upon this:
And I wrote this in the comments:
Utterly reeking of smug, self-congratulation. And the resounding conviction that if you played it perfectly with a 5-piece band, nobody would understand just how monumentally great it is; so you load the stage with the biggest number you can get and make it a mess of layers and noise and gesture until everyone in the room realizes that yes, I have good taste because I liked this song that is reputably a classic, so everyone says. I would have replaced the entire ensemble with 4 Hawaiians with ukuleles and kazoos in a desperate quest for something fresh and interesting.
It’s very hard to tell if “Stairway to Heaven” really is a good song anymore because it has become completely encrusted with myth and grandeur and self-importance and ridicule over the years. I thought it was a pretty grand song when I was in college, after I heard it for the first time. Nice picked guitar. Nice flute. Nice big electric guitar entry. The lyrics? Suggestive of some kind of cosmic sensitivity, about selling out, about “buying” self-respect and redemption, about some “heaven” that is not defined or articulated or even really expressed. Some allusions to natural beauty. That condescending final big statement: “to be a rock and not to roll”.
A room-mate of mine who became a pastor in a Christian Reformed Church listened to it carefully one day and them solemnly pronounced, “that’s what it’s all about isn’t it Bill: ‘to be a rock… and not to roll'”. That was my first clue that the song was hopelessly mired in pretension and posturing and fake sensitivity.
I should have quoted back to him Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sit Down Young Stranger”:
The answer’s in the forest, carved upon a tree
John loves Mary,
Does anyone love me.