If you came of age during the 1980s, you might associate Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” with junior high school dances — an awkward phase of life you’d just as soon forget. For me, it’s hard to think of “Stairway to Heaven” and not cringe. But if you first heard the song in 1971 (when it was released) or soon thereafter, perhaps you have better associations. That’s what filmmaker Cameron Crowe was partly trying to get across in this deleted scene from his 2000 film Almost Famous. In the clip, a high-school boy tries to coax his mother (played by the great Frances McDormand) into letting him write for Rolling Stone. Central to his pitch is the idea that rock music is intellectual, that “Stairway to Heaven” is based on the literature of Tolkien — something that has been debated by critics and scholars. As for why the scene didn’t make it into the movie, you’d think that it’s because of the song’s length. 8 minutes is a long time for a film to go without any dialogue. But apparently it came down to permissions. Crowe told Coming Soon.Net : “Led Zeppelin had already given us four songs at a nice price but they said, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ we’re not going to give to anybody, and we had already shot a scene that was to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ so what was great was we ended up putting the scene on the DVD and saying ‘Put your record on NOW and score it yourself.'” You can try that at home and see if it changes your thoughts on “Stairway to Heaven,” for better or for worse.
Dutchman Masters the Art of Singing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” Backwards
‘Stairway to Heaven’: Watch a Moving Tribute to Led Zeppelin at The Kennedy Center
Led Zeppelin Plays One of Its Earliest Concerts (Danish TV, 1969)
Hear Led Zeppelin’s Mind-Blowing First Recorded Concert Ever (1968)
Great scene! (Patrick Fugit played the character as a high schooler)