Dolly Parton: Stairway to Heaven
Of course, the original Stairway to Heaven started with a folk feel, and then erupted into rock, with Robert Plant going from his calmer lower pitch singing to the screaming almost-falsetto for which he was best known. At the same time, the acoustic guitars vanish, overwhelmed by the roar of the electric ones. Result: rock classic. Dolly Parton reimagines the whole thing, and does it entirely with acoustic instruments. Now the song begins as a bluegrass ballad, and swells with arrival of a gospel choir and some intense fiddle. Parton also adds drums for the song’s climax.
For me, these different approaches yield different meanings. The Led Zeppelin original comes off as an example of mystical seventies rock. But Dolly Parton makes the song an affirmation of faith, Southern style. For sheer volume, Zep wins hands down. But for power, my vote goes to the Parton version.
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