Stairway to Heaven

I really enjoyed this video by Rick Beato; the idea is interesting and so are some of the collateral thoughts.

First off, the collateral thought: supposedly this all happened because Jimmy Page said that down in his archives he has several tapes of Stairway To Heaven with alternate guitar solos. It’s funny to think that a solo that I have listened to several thousand times is not necessarily the solo; it’s just a solo – one of multitudes. At some point, Page decided, “that’s the one” and Stairway To Heaven came into existence as we know it. Would we enjoy hearing the others? Would they sound “wrong”? I actually find this mind-blowing and it makes me realize how much I enjoy that song and Mr Page’s guitar-playing from that period.

So, Beato was thinking about that, too, and decided it’d be interesting to recreate the backing track and get a couple of different takes on the solo, i.e.: what would it sound like if Eddie Van Halen did the solo?

Cool idea. Also a bit of flex: “so I called my drummer and a couple guitar players and we recorded it…” Ah, musicians. The thing that’s cool about music is you create it out of nothing, you don’t need a bunch of steel and propane stock. Of course, the machinery for music is more portable than an anvil…

I’d like to hear the 80s Mark Knopfler cover the entire song, fwiw.

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Just got a call from the trucking company; they have 500lbs of castable refractory cement to drop off, which means that I’m going to be moving 50lb sacks around for a while. My workout for the day!


  1. says

    As someone who has done a bit of recording over the years, this concept does not seem at all odd to me. Ever since we had multi-track capabilities, redoing a solo to get just the right one has been normal operating procedure. In those days, you were limited by the number of free tracks (unless you wanted to erase) but nowadays you can do a hundred solos and pick the one you like the most. Or for that matter, stitch together pieces of three solos, or ten. The master of “stitching bits together” had to be Zappa. He recorded pretty much every concert he ever did and used the bits as needed.

    I have a remastered copy of the first ELP album. It has a version of Lucky Man on it with an alternate Moog solo that Emerson did. Can’t say that I like it, but that’s a matter of taste.

  2. DonDueed says

    The Tedeschi Trucks Band recently re-recorded the entire “Layla” album (originally Derek and the Dominoes). It’s really good — I’m a fan of TTB — but the one cut I didn’t like so well is the title track. “Layla” is so iconic that the changes to the solos are just jarring, even though Derek Trucks is a fine slide guitarist.

    On the other hand, the TTB versions of songs like “Keep On Growin'” and “Anyday” are just superb.

  3. Tethys says

    @Rob Grigjanis

    Thank you for posting that link. Robert Fripp is doing some mind blowing work with that guitar, and the bass and drums are howling back in a fractured growl that is quite menacing.

    It reminds me of the driving underlying rhythms and instrumental duet of Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull.

  4. says

    I’m looking at all that gear piled up behind each of the musicians, and thinking that an anvil might just be more portable. Also a lot less expensive.

  5. says

    True and true, PZ. But a studio is really just a combo lab/production facility. And like any lab, you don’t use all of the toys in it at once, but it’s good to have that special item when you need it.

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