Rock legend Robert Plant is opening up about the poignant moment when he and the other surviving members of Led Zeppelin watched one of their most iconic songs take on a new life.
“It’s just a magnificent performance to watch and it kills me every time,” he told Vulture about the 2012 performance of “Stairway To Heaven” during the Kennedy Center Honors. “It kills me in two or three different ways. It’s just like, Oh my God.”
As Plant and bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones looked on from the balcony, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and drummer Jason Bonham ― son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham ― delivered a show-stopping rendition of the radio staple, first released on 1971′s “Led Zeppelin IV” album.
Plant had tears in his eyes:
He told Vulture in the new interview that over the years he had come to feel “estranged” from the song.
“It began intimate and vulnerable and sincere, and then the years carried on. It was no longer ours and neither should it be,” he said.
That night seemed to take the song even further from him ― but in all the right ways.
“It had its own impetus,” he said. “I watched it go. It was like a beautiful feather, balloon, or bubble. Something out of a clay pipe that had been blown with soap.”
He added: “It was a spectacular performance. I’m now a voyeur. I’m not responsible for it anymore. I’m not in guitar shops being told not to do it. I’m not going down the aisle at a wedding playing it with a flute. I love the song. It came upon me and stripped away all the years of being a part of all that. It just rubbed it right back to the bone.”
See the performance below, which also featured Shane Fontayne on guitar and the Joyce Garrett Youth Choir:
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