Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 07-19-2002, 10:31 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Stairway to Heaven IS Tolkien related!! (LONG)

Since its release in 1971, the meaning of Stairway to Heaven has been to subject to one of the greatest debates in the history of mankind. Now it is solved...

Many people have alleged that Stairway to Heaven is not about the Tolkien book The Lord of the Rings but have given no reasons or incite about what the song is actually about. If not Lord of the Rings, then what is it about?

Lets examine the facts.

FACT: Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, wrote many songs about the Tolkien mythos including: Ramble On, Over the Hills and Far Away, and Kashmir

FACT: The songs before AND after Stairway are about Lord of the Rings; Battle of Evermore and Misty Mountain Hop.

FACT: In the song Battle of Evermore, the first line is undisputedly referring to Galadriel "Queen of Light took her bow, And then she turned to go", and YET, in the VERY next song, Stairway, it is claimed that a very similar line is for some reason not referring to the elven queen, Galadriel. "There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show". In the book, it is stated on page 381, it says of Galadriel, “She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illumined her alone and left all else dark." hmm.. it makes me wonder

FACT: In the book, LotR, in the first line of a very important poem which occurs in the book several times begins with "All that is gold does not glitter"; Stairway begins with the line "theres a lady who’s sure ALL THAT GLITERS IS GOLD". hmm. it really makes me wonder

ASSUMTION: If the lady in the song is Galadriel, which it probably is, perhaps what shes buying is a heaven like state of golden youthfulness for her and for her people of Lothlorien.

ASSUMTION: In the book they say that Galadriel lived next to a river and sang the most beautiful songs of all. "In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings"

FACT: It is a common sentiment in the book to be homesick for wonderful places in the west, for Galadriel it would mean the western land of Valinor where the elves and wizards came from and where gandolf, elrond, and Galadriel eventually went. "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving."

ASSUMTION: "In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees, And the voices of those who standing looking." The rings of smoke are either referring to the smoke rings that gandolf blew or the destruction of the forests of mirkwood by sarumon. The things that stand looking are probably referring to the ents.

FACT: Aragorn was the heir to the throne of Gondor whos strength was represented by the horn of gondor who after becoming king rekindles an era of peace and reason. "And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us to reason." Which means that if they all follow Aragorn...the piper... then a new day will come. "And a new day will dawn for those who stand long And the forests will echo with laughter."

ASSUMTION: this line "Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind." is referring to how galadriel's unaging lothlorien ..heaven.. ended.

FACT: It is a reoccurring theme in LotR that greed and fear can corrupt even the best people..borimir.."And as we wind on down the road Our shadows taller than our soul."

Everything that i have heard throughout my life has gone against this theory but for no apparent reason. Now i have given you proof to substantiate my theory. So can anyone think of any objections or for that matter contributions to this theory?

thanks,
bill
#2
Old 07-19-2002, 10:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 3,680
I think you need for job responsabilities.....
#3
Old 07-19-2002, 10:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 3,680
I think you need additional job responsabilities.....
#4
Old 07-19-2002, 10:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 18
Wow bill, you really know your stuff. I too thought that it was about this and when i was researching it all i found was to the negative of the theory. this website agrees with the theory... http://auburn.edu/~speedhe/[/URL]

It interests me because not long ago (within a month from now), i looked at the site and it said that it was definatly NOT about lord of the rings...while now as you can see it has plainly changed views.


AUSTIN
#5
Old 07-19-2002, 10:38 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 3,680
Doh......
#6
Old 07-20-2002, 01:37 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Chicago
Posts: 10,031
Quote:
Originally posted by bdgr
I think you need additional job responsabilities.....
That's rude. What do YOU do with your spare time besides castigate new posters (and taking 3 posts to do it) for writing something interesting?

NewUser, don't listen to bdgr. I'm a newbie to Tolkien (thanks to the movie, which got me to read the books) but have loved Led Zep since back in the day. I find your post fascinating and I'll have it in mind the next time I hear the song.

Thank you.
#7
Old 07-20-2002, 05:51 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 338
Hmmm, very interesting. Except that Aragorn wasn't really a piper or hornblower--wasn't it Boromir who had the great horn of Gondor? The stuff about Galadriel sounds convincing, though, especially the part about looking to the West. That is a huge theme in LotR for the Elves, especially those in Lothlorien.

I have actually never heard this song but if I ever hear it I will listen for the Lothlorien overtones you suggest here. From my screenname I suppose you can guess that I'm a LotR fan.

Interesting.
#8
Old 07-20-2002, 08:32 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
Posts: 9,459
I've always understood that Stairway to Heaven was a hodgepodge of references to Celtic mythology, with no real cohesion or meaning. Robert Plant has said as much in interviews.

That Tolkien used similar mythos in the LotR books means that the two are going to have parallels, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Stairway is based on LotR.
#9
Old 07-20-2002, 09:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Rouen (France)
Posts: 1,072
Quote:
Originally posted by Nenya_Elizabeth
I have actually never heard this song...
#10
Old 07-20-2002, 10:36 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
Quote:
Originally posted by Nenya_Elizabeth
I have actually never heard this song but if I ever hear it I will listen for the Lothlorien overtones you suggest here. From my screenname I suppose you can guess that I'm a LotR fan.

Interesting.
Nenya - really? You have never heard Stairway to Heaven? Wow!

Check it out, you are in for a treat.
#11
Old 07-20-2002, 10:40 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
NewUser, an interesting thread. I'm not yet convinced, but it is interesting - thanks for starting it
#12
Old 07-20-2002, 10:44 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,937
It sounds to me like Robert Plant had so thoroughly absorbed Tolkien's works that it's impossible to definitively state which of his songs were influenced by him. There are songs which mention characters from Tolkien but otherwise would be unrecognizable as being influenced by him if the song hadn't used the names of the characters. There are also songs like "Stairway to Heaven" with vague references to events in Tolkien but which combine these references in ways that don't coherently fit into the plot of _The Lord of the Rings_.

Weirdly, I think Plant's knowledge of Tolkien was both superficial and deep. Deep, because Plant had apparently read Tolkien enough times that he was probably no longer certain when he was quoting Tolkien. Superficial, because he apparently didn't know much about the mythological and religious traditions that Tolkien was drawing from.
#13
Old 07-20-2002, 10:52 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 7,493
Quote:
FACT: The songs before AND after Stairway are about Lord of the Rings; Battle of Evermore and Misty Mountain Hop.
"Misty Mountain Hop" is not in any meaningful way "about" Lord of the Rings. In fact, the words "Misty Mountains" are the only connection to LOTR. The song is about San Francisco hippies.
#14
Old 07-20-2002, 01:24 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
FACT: If you follow the link that guitar guy gave, they suggest parreles between tolkien and misty mountain hip aside from the name, but at the very least the song refers to tolkienology.
#15
Old 07-20-2002, 01:28 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 7,493
I read the link. It's unconvincing regarding that song, to say the least.

Quote:
The song "Misty Mountain Hop" for example has alot more allusions to tolkien then just the last stanza. The whole song is a parallel story about a young boy in his first acid trip, and the meeting of the dwarves and Bilbo befor they begen there quest. For example the line "they asked us to stay for tea and have some fun..." this is a parallel to the tea party in Bilbo's hobbit hole. The whole song is a metaphor for the begining of "the Hobbit"
Uh . . . "tea" is slang for marijuana. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.
#16
Old 07-20-2002, 01:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
yeah the link really isnt that great. But the NAME OF THE SONG is in reference to tolkien right? A little bit?
#17
Old 07-20-2002, 01:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Anyway my third fact is almost undeniable, many times in the book Galadiel is refered to a the "Lady of light" or some such and she specifically shines white light in at least one scene and even gave a shining white light thingy so Frodo. WHO ELSE COULD IT BE?
#18
Old 07-20-2002, 01:54 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Oh and the full text of Stairway to heaven can be found here http://led-zeppelin.com/EMl4.html
#19
Old 07-20-2002, 02:10 PM
Charter Member
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 77,463
I'll certainly agree that the song has Tolienesque influences ("As I look to the West", for instance), but saying that that's what it's about? There are too many little things which don't fit, but which would if it were about LotR. First of all, there's a huge difference between "All that is gold does not glitter" and "All that glitters is gold". The latter is far too shallow a view for someone as wise as Galadriel. She knows darn well that there are many things which glitter, gold the least of them. And "buying" a stairway to Heaven? I could accept that as reffering to Lothlorien if it were "building", but not "buying". Elves aren't really all that concerned with money and the like. Usually, they're giving and receiving things as gifts, and when they do engage in commerce, it's generally trade, not buying.

Also, in your analysis, you have things like
Quote:
The rings of smoke are either referring to the smoke rings that gandolf blew or the destruction of the forests of mirkwood by sarumon.
When you can find two such completely disparate meanings to the same line, it's usually a sign that the meaning is coming from you, and not from the line you're referencing. It wouldn't make sense for the song to mean both things, so at least one of those interpretations must be from your own imagination. Given that you're capable of imagining one meaning, it's simplest to assume that you're capable of imagining both.
#20
Old 07-20-2002, 02:30 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Currently Bath, ME,
Posts: 1,463
Re: Stairway to Heaven IS Tolkien related!! (LONG)

Quote:
Originally posted by NewUser1
FACT: Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, wrote many songs about the Tolkien mythos including: Kashmir
No.

Wrong.

Not even close.

Kashmir was inspired by Plants travels in Morocco, specifically a drive across the desert at twilight/night.

Seeing as there are no deserts mentioned in LoTR's, you must now go and yourself about the head and shoulders 15 times with a wet haddock.
#21
Old 07-20-2002, 02:41 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Raiderville, TX
Posts: 10,665
Dude. You think this is weird, have you ever noticed the parallels between Lord of the Rings and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon? Start the album right when you start reading. It's freaky.

(this post not subtitled for the humor impaired)
#22
Old 07-20-2002, 02:46 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Quote:
And "buying" a stairway to Heaven? I could accept that as reffering to Lothlorien if it were "building", but not "buying". Elves aren't really all that concerned with money and the like. Usually, they're giving and receiving things as gifts, and when they do engage in commerce, it's generally trade, not buying.
That seems like too much of a superficial diagnosis to me. She isnt using money per say, but with her ring of power is "buying" the peaceful youthfulness of Lothlorien. (A reasonable "stairway to heaven") Sort of a door into summer type of thing. When The Ring is destroyed she can no longer use hers to "buy" the sort of stairway-to-heaven for Lothlorien.
#23
Old 07-20-2002, 02:51 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Quote:
Kashmir was inspired by Plants travels in Morocco, specifically a drive across the desert at twilight/night.
Again, the site which GuitarGuy gave gives a "reasonable" relation to tolkien and Kashmir, but even so, that particular fact was meant to show previous tolkien-zeppelin works. I think we can all agree that led zeppelin did some tolkien related songs.
#24
Old 07-20-2002, 03:00 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Quote:
When you can find two such completely disparate meanings to the same line, it's usually a sign that the meaning is coming from you, and not from the line you're referencing. It wouldn't make sense for the song to mean both things, so at least one of those interpretations must be from your own imagination. Given that you're capable of imagining one meaning, it's simplest to assume that you're capable of imagining both.
Yes and we can also asume that I am Robert Plant.

That's a lovely analysis but seeing as I didn't write the song there would be no way for me to be "sure" of any line, but TELL ME why the song wouldn't make sense with either one of those interpretations! It would have a slightly different meaning with either line but would not ruin my interpretaion of the song. Either Galadriel is thinking of Gandolf or she is thinking about the desturction of Mirkwood. No real change to the meaning of the song.
#25
Old 07-20-2002, 03:27 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Quote:
First of all, there's a huge difference between "All that is gold does not glitter" and "All that glitters is gold". The latter is far too shallow a view for someone as wise as Galadriel. She knows darn well that there are many things which glitter, gold the least of them.
Maybe Plant meant it in a different way than the classical, shallow sence or maybe it makes perfect sence even with Galadriel. She wasn't perfect you know, nor was the metaphor to be taken literally (As if she couldnt tell gold from other things). I still say the similarity of the all important first lines remains.

Maybe he is saying that Galadriel put too much faith in the power of the rings (Gold) with which she used to keep Lothlorien the way it was. And eventually when the power of the rings were destroyed so was their power on earth (including the heaven-like state of lothlorien) "Your stairway lies on the whispering wind"

Again, I didn't write the song, I'm just doing my best, and no one has given any "real" arguyments.

bill
#26
Old 07-20-2002, 04:06 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
here is one from that web site from someone that didn't catch the led zeppelin tie in, but I did.

Quote:
At the end of Homeward Bound in The Return of the King, Gandalf says "I have been a stone doomed to rolling
This certainly matches the similar lyrics at the end of Stairway "To be a rock and not to roll"

Can't explain how that fits into my interpretation besides agian having to do with gandalf and the LotR, but I never had an interpreation of that line. Now that about covers every line in the text.
#27
Old 07-20-2002, 06:52 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,937
NewUser1 writes:

> Again, I didn't write the song, I'm just doing my best, and no
> one has given any "real" arguyments.

And neither have you. No one doubts that there are a number of vague Tolkien references in Led Zeppelin. Lots of lines in the song can be made to sorta, kinda refer to things in _The Lord of the Rings_. That's not good enough. Since there is no use of specific character or place names from Tolkien, what you're going to have to do if you want to show that Plant (well, actually it was Plant and Page who wrote the song) intended it to be about _The Lord of the Rings_ is to show a consistent interpretation of the entire song that relates it to the book. Interpreting one part of the song as a reference to one part of the book and another part of the song as a different and not quite consistent reference to another part of the book isn't sufficient.

As things stand, well, yes, the song does sound sorta, kinda Tolkien-like. So what?
#28
Old 07-20-2002, 06:58 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,175
Hey!!!!



That's enough!!!!!



Stop bogarting that joint, dude!!!!!!
#29
Old 07-20-2002, 08:26 PM
Charter Member
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Near Amsterdam, NL
Posts: 15,982
At least he isn't talking about Engelbert Humperdinck.
#30
Old 07-20-2002, 10:16 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: New Middletown, Ohio
Posts: 5,825
Quote:
Originally posted by Max Torque
Dude. You think this is weird, have you ever noticed the parallels between Lord of the Rings and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon? Start the album right when you start reading. It's freaky.

(this post not subtitled for the humor impaired)
You think that's freaky? You should try Dark Sode of the Moon and the the LotR movie. That's really freaky.
#31
Old 07-20-2002, 10:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 18
Quote:
I've always understood that Stairway to Heaven was a hodgepodge of references to Celtic mythology, with no real cohesion or meaning. Robert Plant has said as much in interviews.
Id like to see those interviews Rastahomie...
#32
Old 07-20-2002, 10:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 18
Quote:
And neither have you. No one doubts that there are a number of vague Tolkien references in Led Zeppelin. Lots of lines in the song can be made to sorta, kinda refer to things in _The Lord of the Rings_. That's not good enough. Since there is no use of specific character or place names from Tolkien, what you're going to have to do if you want to show that Plant (well, actually it was Plant and Page who wrote the song) intended it to be about _The Lord of the Rings_ is to show a consistent interpretation of the entire song that relates it to the book. Interpreting one part of the song as a reference to one part of the book and another part of the song as a different and not quite consistent reference to another part of the book isn't sufficient.
What do u mean there is no argument??? have you not read any of this post??? did you just skip that whole starting thread?? are you just replying with random and useless comments?? i stand with you bill to the last...stairway IS about lord of the rings
#33
Old 07-20-2002, 11:49 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
right on guitarguy

Quote:
And neither have you
What? don't make me qoute the whole OP

Quote:
Since there is no use of specific character or place names from Tolkien
Hey, YOU tell me who the "Lady who shines white light" is besides Galadriel (and still fit in with the other lines), nothing vague about it. She IS the Lady of Light. That is one of the non-vague lyrics that puts the rest in perspective.

You keep saying that my explanation is vague and some parts could be interpreted in diffrent ways without changing the overall LotR theme, but for the most part, I have explained most unvaguely what each line means.
If you wrote the most EPIC and Mystical rock song of all time, would you promote the idea that it was about A fantasty trilogy? I woulnd't. I think that Robert Plant (who wrote the LYRICS) would want us to figure out what the song meant rather than him explaining it. It leaves a wider audeince and makes it more epic and mystical (which sells records) if he doesn't go right out and tell everyone what the song means, sorta somthing for the fans to figure out. Well I have. And as a Led Zeppelin and Tolkien Fan I wanted to share that connection.

And stop saying "vague" like you know what the word means Wendell.

Bill
#34
Old 07-20-2002, 11:52 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
wait I want to make this clear, we all now agree that it is tolkien related and not celtic or some crap like that, right ?
#35
Old 07-21-2002, 07:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 7,493
Uh, NewUser and guitarguy, since you're newbies, let me offer you a little advice:

1. If you're going to debate, debate. Don't just act like typical True Believers and react to counterpoints by sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "I can't hear you!!"

2. Don't level criticisms against other posters unless you have reason to beleive they are well-founded. "And stop saying 'vague' like you know what the word means Wendell," is one of the single dumbest things I have ever seen on the SDMB, for two reasons.

The first is that your own grasp of the English language seems . . . tenuous, at best.

The second is that I have have met Wendell several times in person. He is not only one of the most intelligent people I have ever met from the SDMB, he is one of the most well-educated people I've ever met, period -- the holder of several degrees, including graduate degrees, in various disciplines. One of his degrees is in the field of linguistics. I think, from that, we can assume he has at least some grasp of the meaning of the word "vague."

3. Given the degree to which Tolkien himself drew from Celtic mythology and tradition in his writings, and as a linguist whose loves included Celtic, Gaelic and Welsh, he'd probably be amused at best and horrified at worst to see you dismiss the Celts as "some crap like that."

4. Finally, luminscence being associated with royalty, or importance, or virtue, is such a standard trope in fantasy and religious literature that, absent a specific name, there's no reason to assume it refers to anyone in particular.
#36
Old 07-21-2002, 09:19 AM
Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 25,091
Nah, Stairway to Heaven is obviously about the cult of the Virgin in Catholic theology...think about it:

Quote:
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
And when she gets there she knows if the stores are closed
With a word she can get what she came for
The "lady" is the Virgin, and "all that glitters is gold" and "buying a stairway to heaven" refers to the old Catholic practice of selling indulgence. "With a word she can get what she came for", refers to her status as a saint, who pleads for the souls of believers on earth.

Quote:
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 forest will echo with laughter
The piper is Jesus, who's second coming will happen "if we all call the tune"...when the world is converted to Catholicism and start working towards a world based on Catholic ethics.

Quote:
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen
Who's the May Queen? The virgin Mary.

So, I think it's obvious that "Stairway to Heaven" is about Roman Catholicism, and specifically, the cult of the Virgin.

I've never actually heard Stairway to Heaven, or Led Zepplin, and I don't know what was going through their minds when they wrote the song. Maybe it was some sort of tribute to LOTR. However, song interpretation is a tricky thing (as is literature interpretation), and to say that it's obviously a tribute to LOTR, is being overly certain.
#37
Old 07-21-2002, 10:00 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: On the windowsill
Posts: 7,971
Moderator's Note :

Emotions in this thread seem to be running a bit high. I would ask that it be toned down a bit by our new friends before this gets into Pit territory.

Thanks,
__________________
St. Euty, H.M.S.H.
Sing We Nowell
#38
Old 07-21-2002, 10:19 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,937
O.K., let me go through the song in detail and show you what it would take to produce a consistent interpretation of the song as referring to _The Lord of the Rings_ and, in particular, as referring to Galadriel:

"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold . . ."

In what sense is Galadriel sure that all that glitters is gold? Yes, there's a poem in the book that says that "All that is gold does not glitter." But that's not said by Galadriel, and it's exactly opposite what the line in the song says.

"And she's buying a stairway to heaven."

What is the stairway? In what sense is she buying it?

"When she get there she knows, all the stores will be closed . . ."

Where is "there"? Heaven? What are the stores there? Why will they be closed? What's all the economic imagery doing in a song that's supposedly about _The Lord of the Rings_? More specifically, what's it doing in a song about Galadriel? Where is it ever implied that elves are in need of money?

"There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure, 'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings."

What is the sign on the wall? What two meanings does it have? Why should Galadriel, of all the people in _The Lord of the Rings_, be uncertain about the meaning of this sign?

"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, it's just a spring clean for the May queen."

Who is the May queen? Why are they doing a spring cleaning for her? For that matter, who is the "they" who's doing the cleaning? Why would someone need to do a spring cleaning for Galadriel? Doesn't this sound more like a reference to some goddess of the spring (from Celtic or some other mythology) than to Galadriel?

"There walks a lady we all know who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold."

In what sense do we all know Galadriel? In what sense does she want to show us that everything still turns to gold? In so far as Galadriel had any message, it was about loss. She knew that the time of the elves was coming to an end and that they would soon leave Middle Earth.

Incidentally, there are lots of ladies with white light in various religious and mythological schemes. You are aware, aren't you, that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and at the back of his mind in his picturing of Galadriel was the Virgin Mary?

"Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know, the piper's calling you to join him."

Why is someone's head humming (Galadriel's? The narrator's? The head of the person being addressed in the song?)? Who's the piper? Doesn't his sound more like drug imagery than anything derived from Tolkien? Indeed, doesn't this entire song sound like it's by someone who's used drugs who's describing the images in his head caused by the drugs? It seems like this person has at some point read Tolkien and a lot of Celtic mythology and this has affected his images, but there aren't any consistent references to Tolkien.

If this song is about _The Lord of the Rings_, who is it addressed to and who is narrating it? There are a number of uses of "you" and "I" in the song, and I don't see how they consistently fit into _The Lord of the Rings_. Doesn't this sound more like one drug user describing to another his drug images? It sounds like both of them have read Tolkien and Celtic mythology and thus both recognize a lot of vague images from those works.
#39
Old 07-21-2002, 10:24 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,937
Interesting. That was a simul-post by Captain Amazing and myself. (Yeah, I know they were an hour apart, but it took me a long time to compose the post and I was doing other things at the same time.) We both noticed that the lady with white light could be interpreted as being the Virgin Mary.
#40
Old 07-21-2002, 11:08 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: NoWA
Posts: 59,089
Whew! I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan, and while I've read LotR a few times and am inchanted by it, I'm not a TrueFan®. That is, Tolkein is not my life. Also, I am not a linguist. I've read many pieces of classic literature, but I am not as well-read as many on these boards. Anyway, here's what I think:

The first stanza refers to a shallow woman. (I'll post some lyrics, but I'm sure this post will fall under "fair use" rules.) "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold". That is, she sees the surface of a thing and not its value. She's one of these people who "knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing". She's spoiled. "When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed / With a word she can get what she came for." She gets what she wants when she wants it. "Don't be silly, darling! They'll open up for me!"

In the second stanza: "There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure / 'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings". I think she is confronted by a "closed sign" or some other obstacle. She can't conceive that she is blocked, and tries to figure out if it applies to her. Nearby, a bird (maybe her inner voice?) sings, "You're not as 'all that' as you think you are."

The third stanza seems to be along these lines: The narrator is telling us, "Sometimes I feel as if I should move on. Look at that woman. She's shallow and conceited. I'm surrounded by such people! They're burning down the forests to run their machines, and they don't realize they're destroying something beautiful. It doesn't matter to them!" I think "the ones who stand looking" are people of similar mind to the narrator. If they are looking, then perhaps they see.

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.


I think this means that in the midst of all of the consumerism, there are people who don't -- er, "buy" -- into it. Remember that when the song was written there were "Flower Children" who rejected the consumerism of their parents. So while this "lady", a superficial, conceited consumer is having her fun, the Flower Children are whispering amongst themselves that if they all band together they can make a difference. They can change old attitudes and Nature will be safe.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.


I don't know enough about the Spring festivals and traditions to really comment on the May Queen. The next lines say that there are two paths we can go down. As human beings we can choose the path of destruction or the path of salvation. It's our choice. But even if we buy into consumerism, we can still "see the light" and change the way we do things. We always have a chance of salvation if we change our ways.

Miss Superficial is starting to hear the humming in her head of the voices around her that are urging her to change. She's becoming aware that there is a greater world than the one she's living in -- the one where the point is to "see and be seen" by the "right people", and to buy the latest trend. The narrator asks this woman if she can hear the call. He tells her that the Righteous Path, the Road to Enlightenment, the Stairway to Heaven, is not based in the material world she's living in. It lies on the whispering wind and the green trees and the call of birds -- Nature.

"And as we wind on down the road / Our shadows taller than our soul." seems to refer to the "burden of sin" we supposedly all carry. Our "shadows" -- sin -- are greater than our goodness. As we walk the path of materialism we see the Superficial Lady. She has rejected materialism and her soul has become clean ("shines white light"). Although she no longer has the trappings of the Bourgeoisie, her new attitudes turn the natural things to "gold". And if you listen to her when she tells of her transformation, then you'll finally "get it". You'll understand that we are all One, and we live on one planet. You'll know that what we do to our environment, we do to ourselves. You'll see that if this Queen of Commercialism can change, then you are not beyond hope. You will become enlightened.

Anyway, that's my non-expert, non-Tolkein interpretation.
__________________
'Never say "no" to adventure. Always say "yes". Otherwise you'll lead a very dull life.' -- Commander Caractacus Pott, R.N. (Retired)

'Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.' -- Lu-Tze
#41
Old 07-21-2002, 02:38 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Quote:
Emotions in this thread seem to be running a bit high. I would ask that it be toned down a bit by our new friends before this gets into Pit territory.
point taken

Now...

Captain Amazing's explanation was indeed interesting (I had thought of the Virgin Mary as a possibility for the "Lady"), and yet, even ignoring the Tolkien references in the previous song Captain's interpretation had enough problems.

In Captain's interpretation, the main line of the song is quoted as "buying a stairway to heaven", instead of referencing the Lady as buying it. Therefore, the selling indulgences makes very little sense. And given this explanation, much of the rest of the song makes little sense. Anyway how can he have not heard stairway, I think his explanation is disqualified on those grounds. J/K

Wendel: mostly read the rest of my posts?

Johnny LA's interpretation is the most fascinating interpretation that I have seen. Ignoring the specific Tolkien references in the songs previous and post. Although it negates much of what I have said, I concede to a possibility of this view. That is some good interpreting there. Only a few criticisms such as why does the last line of the song insure us again that "She is buying a stairway to heaven" It doesn't seem she has really changed. And some parts seem a stretch but I guess not more than some parts of my interpretation.
#42
Old 07-21-2002, 02:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 50
Oh sorry Wendel, there were a few unadressed things, hold on.

Such as

"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, it's just a spring clean for the May queen."

I forgot to address this, I always figured it was tom's wife who is likened to mother nature and is specificlly said to be doing Spring Cleaning or some such by Tom. again not a reference to Galadriel, just LotR

Also I always asumed that the words you and I were just neutral references that could be applied and not narrator/audience titles.
I mean the narration speakes directly to the lady as well as in third person of her.
#43
Old 07-21-2002, 04:27 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 13,937
NewUser1 writes:

> I forgot to address this, I always figured it was tom's wife who
> is likened to mother nature and is specificlly said to be doing
> Spring Cleaning or some such by Tom. again not a reference to
> Galadriel, just LotR

Where does it say that Goldberry, Tom Bombadil's wife, is like Mother Nature? I want a specific reference in _The Lord of the Rings_, not just a oh-well-you-know-it's-in-there-somewhere. Why is Galadriel the May queen, and why is Goldberry doing the spring cleaning (whatever you take that to be) particularly for her?

> Also I always asumed that the words you and I were just
> neutral references that could be applied and not
> narrator/audience titles.
> I mean the narration speakes directly to the lady as well as in
> third person of her.

That's just the vagueness I was speaking of. Sometimes in your interpretation the song seems to be addressing the lady: "Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow . . ." Sometimes the song sounds like the lady addressing the audience: "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west . . ." Sometimes it seems to be addressing a person who knows about the story: "There's a lady we all know . . ." Who's the narrator of the song? A character from Tolkien? A person retelling the story of the book?

Whose head is humming and it won't go? Who is the piper calling to join him? Those two lines are next to each other but I can't figure out any way in your interpretation they can be addressed to the same person.

You haven't answered any of my questions. To convince us, you're going to have to go line by line through the song interpreting it, and, no, you haven't done that. All you've done is interpret a few random lines, and you haven't even done it in a consistent way.
#44
Old 07-21-2002, 06:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Glass City OHIO, USA
Posts: 767
Stupid Idea #1.

"Piper Calling you to join him." Strider was pulling on a pipe when Frodo rolled under his chair in Bree.

Stupid Idea #2.
"May Queen" Who's Being preparede for. Arwen Undomiel.
Gladriel was the Morning Star... Arwen the "Evening Star" of The ElvES

Stupid Idea #3.
"Your head is humming and it won't go." Smeagol or Gollum, who's stairway to destruction, the same as Frodo's lay in the wind of Mount Doom, no doubt the whispers of the Orcs echoed.

Mind you, I ain't buying into this Tolkien stuff... No doubt JRR is giggling at us for displaying the behaviour he stated in his intro to LotR, he abhored. But in allowing a reader (or listener?) to come to thier own conclution was something he loved.

FWIW, I think Johnny L.A.'s explaination closest to the truth. I always figgured the song to be about a spoiled Bimbo.
#45
Old 07-21-2002, 07:13 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 888
Quote:
Originally posted by rastahomie
I've always understood that Stairway to Heaven was a hodgepodge of references to Celtic mythology, with no real cohesion or meaning. Robert Plant has said as much in interviews.

That Tolkien used similar mythos in the LotR books means that the two are going to have parallels, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Stairway is based on LotR.
I've read things very similar to this. Originally STH was supposed to be an instrumental, but when Page first played it for Plant, Plant started writing down words in a notebook, basically just making it up as he went along without putting any real thought into it. This is described in Hammer of the Gods, a book about Led Zeppelin. I tried to find this book (very interesting, and it seems accurate) to quote the relevant passages, but unfortunately the book disappeared in my last move or got ate by gremlins or something. Of course Plant had all that imagery he wrote down in his head already, so . . .

I suspect the book-song parallels are a happy coincidence.
#46
Old 07-21-2002, 09:43 PM
Charter Member
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 77,463
Even if we accept that Galadriel was using her Ring to "buy" a stairway to Heaven, she wasn't doing it with gold. Galadriel's ring was of silver, which is never mentioned in the song. And Galadriel is absolutely, positively, not the "Lady of Light" in Tolkien. I don't know who (if anyone, in particular) Page is referring to with that, but the Lady of Light in Tolkien's works is Varda. And don't get too excited about the fact that there is a lady of light in Tolkien, because there's a Lady of Light in every single piece of fantasy or mythological literature that's ever been written. Maybe it's Venus, or Titania, or Mary, or the Corn Mother, or anyone else at all.

And I independently came to the same general conclusion as Johnny L.A. and TelcontarStorm the first time I heard the song, too. I can't imagine why it's such a popular pastimes to think of less obvious explanations than "spoiled rich bitch".
#47
Old 07-21-2002, 11:24 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: over here
Posts: 1,230
What does "And there's a wino down the road" have to do with Tolkien?

As a big Zeppelin fan and someone who's not been exposed to Tolkien, I've always understood and assumed that many of Plant's lyrics were Tolkien-esque. Not necessarily about them. Both Tolkien and Plant probably drew from the same source.

Someone else mentioned this earlier. There is no right or wrong interpretation on stuff like this. That's what makes it so much fun. The idea that there is a right/wrong interpretation is what ruined many lit classes for high school students.
#48
Old 07-21-2002, 11:48 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is gone!
Posts: 26,872
Re: Stairway to Heaven IS Tolkien related!! (LONG)

Quote:
Originally posted by NewUser1
FACT: Aragorn was the heir to the throne of Gondor whos strength was represented by the horn of gondor who after becoming king rekindles an era of peace and reason. "And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us to reason." Which means that if they all follow Aragorn...the piper... then a new day will come. "And a new day will dawn for those who stand long And the forests will echo with laughter."
Ahem.

Pipes are not horns.

Pipers do not blow horns.

Horns are a primitive instrument made from, well, horn.

Pipes are a complex instrument involving double reeds, hemp, finely turned cylindrical wood, and leather bags, that are kept in working order by spit.

Horns simply make a noise.

Pipes evoke the wildness of nature, deep longing and loss, the joy of dancing, and the camaraderie of arms.

Equating a mere horn to the grandeur of the pipes is a fundamental error, sufficient in and of itself to cast doubt upon your entire allegorical construct.
#49
Old 07-22-2002, 02:20 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: in his nowhere land
Posts: 1,734
Funny, I always thought "Stairway to Heaven" was a drug-induced attempt to write the most overplayed, overinterpreted, and overestimated song of all time.

But what would I know?
#50
Old 07-22-2002, 09:41 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 840
Quote:
Originally posted by Already in Use
Funny, I always thought "Stairway to Heaven" was a drug-induced attempt to write the most overplayed, overinterpreted, and overestimated song of all time.

But what would I know?

Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner, folks!
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:43 AM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: daw prescription transformer blew walmart restaurant complete mean cassandra peterson penthouse curb feelers yeah whatever song 1800 fuck you zennies glasses pentax p30t sensitivity after orgasm is there an imdb for commercials is it legal to explore abandoned buildings my name's paul and this is between y'all lancing a hemorrhoid video what is the song mony mony about is a phd in philosophy worth it craigs list sewing machines has there ever been world peace do motorcycles have alternators how much blood do they take for blood work