This isn't going to be an esoteric essay on meta physical meanings. It's much more important than that.
Led Zeppelin ask judge to throw out 'Stairway to Heaven' copyright case
We've been hearing about how Jimmy Page ripped off some guy when he wrote Stairway to Heaven back in December of 1970, since at least the late 70's. "And it makes you wonder..."
Fans of Page often boast that he is one of the best guitarists of all time. What they don't say, or possible don't know, is how he got that way. Back in the 1960's prior to the formation of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a highly sought out studio musician. That's how he made his living, playing other peoples music in a recording studio to assist them in putting together their musical vision. Apparently he was good at.
One kind of music that Page said he particularly liked was American Negro Blues. He said that he enjoyed copying and reproducing that musical form with modern instruments and techniques. Incidentally you now have a fairly complete understanding of the writing process behind nearly every song on the first three albums and singles. Take a sound/style/method and reproduce it with variations and alternations that you find interesting and repackage it.
Repackaging worked! Thanks to a unique combination of musical talent Led Zep became a huge success. When they started writing Led Zeppelin IV they were already established as a band. So when they sat down to write the songs for the album, they felt they had an opportunity to experiment.
Stairway to Heaven was one of those experiments. They intentionally wanted to write a longer song with multiple time and tempo changes. At the time, longer songs and tempo changes where not common in pop music. In Gadda Da Vida (1968) was never that big a hit. America Pie was released in 1971, the same year as Stairway and Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald wasn't released until 1976. Pop music's tendency to favor shorter songs over longer ones still holds true today.
Page explains in his own words.
The studio had enough traditionally solid Zeppelin fair on the fourth album to let the boys take a shot with Stairway without endangering sales. Personally I think after having a listen they thought it was a good song. Even so, Stairway to Heaven wasn't released as a single in the United States in 1971. Fan requests for radio play what pushed the songs popularity in the US.
Back in December of 1970, when collaborating on writing the song, nobody knew that all that glitters was gold. It was something they wanted to try. Which brings us back to the question, "Did Randy California write the song?".
Here is Spirit's song Taurus
There are 4 notes that are exactly the same as Stairway to Heaven. I bet you can pick them out. Now compare that to this:
The notes that are the same, are what's known as a cord progression. Anyone picking the single notes, in order, will achieve the same results, because that's what a cord is. Musicians have been picking this cord for as long as we have had stringed instruments. Which is why you can hear the same four notes in each song, as well as in other songs that use the same cord.
Spirit used that cord to produce a nice mellow instrumental. It's not a bad bit of music in its own rite. Zeppelin used that cord as the basis of building a fast paced, up tempo, piece that crescendos into a hard rock power house. Sure 4 notes are the same, but nothing else about the music is.
It's time for Randy California's lawyers to ramble on.