Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.
– Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
I was never a fan of Stairway to Heaven. Matter of fact, I’ve never really cared for anything by Led Zeppelin. Well, except Fool in the Rain, but my friend Bob informed me once upon a time that it was ‘Led Zeppelin Lite’ and didn’t count. I did see Gretchen Wilson (Redneck Woman) perform a very impressive cover of Zeppelin’s Black Dog once, but that’s the wrong story here. (She was the opening act, for a concert, OK. I didn’t really see her on purpose.)
Why, as a classic rock kind of guy, did I hold such disdain for Stairway and Zeppelin? It is possible that my dislike of Stairway stems back to some youth pastor of yesteryear calling it devil’s music? Maybe, but I don’t recall a specific sermon about that. No, I’m pretty sure my dislike of of Stairway stems from the “Greatest Rock Songs of All Time” countdowns that the rock radio station in Greenville used to do.
See, every year, the station would hold a listener vote where listeners would call in and vote for their favorite songs. Every year, Stairway would beat out Freebird for the top spot. This infuriated me. I didn’t understand. How could any self respecting Southerner vote for a British band over the South’s own Skynyrd? They played their last pre-plane crash concert there in Greenville, for goodness sakes. What traitors. Must’ve been those Michigan transplants flooding the line.
So, for years, I’ve only allowed Fool in the Rain to play in my car. All other Zeppelin tunes got the dial change. Something happened recently, though. Two things, actually. First, I heard a live version of Stairway in a store somewhere. Maybe I was just beat down from a day of shopping, but that day, something about the live concert playing took hold of me and made me rethink my position. Then, second, I saw Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart do a cover of Stairway from one of the Kennedy Center Honors concerts. With the surviving members of Led Zeppelin in the audience, they blew it away. Here’s the video:
I’ve actually changed and/or mellowed my stance on a few other songs and artists over the years. Now, I try to adopt the stance of “There’s got to be one song by this guy or band I can appreciate”. So far Culture Club hasn’t broken through for me, but here, in no particular order, are some artists and their one song I now cut some slack.
1. George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go down on Me. Sure it is a cover of an Elton John song, but its a fine cover. It is also live and Elton himself joins in the last verse.
2. Soft Cell – Tainted Love. Guess it brings back fond ’80s memories.
3. Debbie Gibson – Only in My Dreams. Hey, I like the groove, and Debbie’s aging well.
4. One Direction – Story of My Life. I have a 10 year old daughter. Gotta compromise somewhere.
5. Madonna – Nope. Sorry. Going to have to put her in the Culture Club Camp.
So there you have it. An old leopard can change a few spots. How about you? Is there a song you hated in the past but now love? Let me know in the comments below.