In the video below from 7 Nov 2017, Brazilian musicians Violet Orlandi (vocals), Martin Senna (guitar), and Adrian Delgado (drums) perform “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Be sure to pay attention at 6 minutes where the guitar solo begins for a great closeup of the finger work required to play this song. Scroll down below the video to find some commentary and more information about the song. Note: This post was created on 14 Apr 2020, but has been dated 7 Nov 2017 to coincide with the date of the video.

Song Origins and History

“Stairway to Heaven” is considered by many to be one of the great classic rock songs. In 2000, the song was voted number 3 as one of the VH1 top 100 Greatest Rock Songs and it placed as number 31 on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Original Studio Recording of “Stairway to Heaven”

The original studio recording of “Starway to Heaven” (provided below) is about 8 minutes long with the first two minutes consisting of only classical guitar, flute, and vocals. Then an electric guitar accompaniment emerges with a full bodied echo and acoustic stereo symmetry of two guitars playing.

At 4m 18s into the original (when most songs would be over) a drummer joins the ballad.

At 5m 35s into the original there is a transition that lasts until 5m 55s when an electric guitar solo has a vaguely Jimmy Hendrix sound to it. Sometimes an electric guitar solo, with distortion added, sounds like someone attacking the guitar with no real purpose. That “Stairway to Heaven” guitar solo is purposeful and precise enough to hear every note.

The song progresses like the grand finale of a fireworks show with the drummer, guitarist, and vocalists giving it everything they’ve got, and then the song ends with the vocalist’s voice only. Fade, and scene.

The Guitar Solo by Martin Senna

I’ve heard the song numerous times in the decades since it was first released by Led Zeppelin back in 1971. I’ve never imagined a music video version of the song. One of the more popular live performance recordings, from Madison Square Garden in 1973, has some trippy visual effects and then shows the band from a distance. There’s not really an extended closeup of the finger work used in playing the original studio song and the recording is only 3m 23s long.

Violet Orlandi, Martin Senna, and Adrian Delgado do a great job in their cover of the song, and apparently spent months assembling the multitrack audio and video.

What impressed me most was beginning at 6 minutes with the guitar solo of Martin Senna.

The video was apparently recorded in high definition with a high frame rate so the fast finger movements are clearly visible. At moments it has the closeups and detail of an instructional video. By seeing the guitar playing closely, it’s possible to notice a variety of playing techniques. Not only does one need to know specific chords, but the sliding down strings, and stretching of guitar strings precisely to reproduce the original sound seems very intricate and difficult. At 6m 21s Martin begins the portion of the guitar solo that has a classic rock electric guitar sound to it. The playing is really quite good and he makes it look sort of effortless.

Further Reading

Lyrics

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Oh oh oh oh and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder

There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder

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

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen
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

Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow?
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

[YouTube Date: 7 Nov 2017. Posted: 14 Apr 2020.]