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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Best arrangement ever?

I cannot endorse the lifestyle of rock stars -- hard drug use, groupie exploitation, etc -- nor is heavy metal my favorite genre. Led Zeppelin is arguably a good example of the consequences of the lifestyle, with the early death of John Bonham and the problems of Jimmy Page. But there's no denying their superb talent, exemplified by the versatility and longevity of Robert Plant. For this reason they received Kennedy Center Honors ten months ago.

Here's the video of the performance of Stairway to Heaven. I think it's magnificent. Aside from the singing of Ann Wilson who still has "the voice", I'm blown away by the production values: full choir, strings and brass, and a score that is faithful to the original without being an absolute clone. This lasts seven minutes and is worth every one.

The drummer is the son of the deceased Bonham. Plant is moved to tears; Page and John Paul Jones obviously approve. I hope the audio engineer won an award for superbly mixing so many microphones -- with no retake possible. Note that David Letterman, another honoree that night who was seated next to Page, has the decency to shift out of the camera when he knows it's on.