A little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll:
April 10, 2002 9:48 AM   Subscribe

A little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll: Dolly Parton’s upcoming Halos and Horns CD features her version of “Stairway to Heaven” (and, from the other end of the rock spectrum, Bread’s wimp-rock classic “If”). Ironically, country singer Irene Kelley was kicked out of a high school Led Zeppelin cover band for suggesting they do a Dolly Parton song.
posted by kirkaracha (18 comments total)
Dolly already won a Grammy for doing a cover of Collective Soul's Shine.
posted by riffola at 9:53 AM on April 10, 2002

All hail Dolly. I saw her recently on "Austin City Limits" and she blows any contemporary female singers, country or otherwise, out the door with her sheer professionalism, great originals, energy and amiability. But the joke of incongruous performers doing "Stairway to Heaven" is tiresome and not funny. Brave Combo had Tiny Tim sing it on his last album, "Girl". Ha ha. Tiny Tim singing "Stairway to Heaven". It was neither funny nor even remotely interesting. Why does this joke, doomed to be tried over and over again for the rest of time, not work?
posted by Faze at 10:38 AM on April 10, 2002

But the joke of incongruous performers doing "Stairway to Heaven" is tiresome and not funny.

Why does this have to be a joke? Admittedly, "Stairway" is only a marginally good song, but Dolly's a great performer, so why shouldn't she get a crack at it? As riffola points out, her cover of "Shine" kicked some serious ass.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:48 AM on April 10, 2002

Well, I'll tell you... "Stairway" wasn't even funny when Robert Plant sang it. And, I'm sorry to disagree with you ChrisTN, but "Stairway" is sub-marginal. I myself don't find it entertaining on any level, even on a "boy are those guys over the top on that one!" level. It just plain blows. It drags. It divides time into tiny portions, and expands each millisecond into an painful eternity. That only good thing about "Stairway to Heaven" is that I know that after I die, every minute of my life that I've spent listening to it will be counted as one century off my time in Purgatory, in fact, I may hear St. Peter say, "Son, you're going to heaven, because you've done your time in hell. You've had to listen to 'Stairway to Heaven'." I recall how the release of "Stairway to Heaven" had the effect of bringing the whole wonderful 1960s musical renaissance to a screaming (and I mean screaming) halt. It was the end of all that was good, and decent and holy in the world, and inaugerated a reign of evil that nearly swept good music off the face of the earth. Indeed, only a few pockets of resistance remain. But how long can they survive, as long as there is even one person in the world who can actually describe "Stairway to Heaven" as a "marginally good song," when in fact it is the ur-source of all musical wretchedness everywhere?
posted by Faze at 11:09 AM on April 10, 2002

The White Stripes do a great version of Dolly's "Jolene." Of course, it was a great song when she did it too. Seek them both out.
posted by argybarg at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2002

The Rolf Harris version of Stairway To Heaven works reasonably well as a comedy record. Performed it live to great acclaim at Glastonbury Festival too.
posted by kerplunk at 12:12 PM on April 10, 2002

I may have to check out this album. I doubt very much that Dolly is treating "Stairway To Heaven" as a joke, so I'll be interested to hear the spin she puts on it. Her version of Billy Joel's "Traveling Prayer" was totally different from the original, but just as good. I don't listen to Dolly Parton a lot, but what I have heard convinces me that she's a damn good musician.
posted by tdismukes at 1:12 PM on April 10, 2002

it is the ur-source of all musical wretchedness everywhere

Wooooo!!! Free Bird!!!

*collapses in qualuude-induced stupor*
posted by groundhog at 1:28 PM on April 10, 2002

[fan mode]

You da man, kirkaracha! Despite her cheesy public image Dolly has always been the real thing. As far as the Zep cover goes, Dolly could sing raw javascript code and it would probably be worth hearing.
The version of "Shine" she did blew away Collective Soul's(still very good) original and her "I Will Always Love You" is so well done that even Whitney's decimation of it can't kill my enjoyment. Not to mention she's no slouch as a songwriter either, Like I've said here before, "Coat of Many Colors" is one of very few songs that can make me weep. I will one day make a divine pilgrimage to Dollywood.

[/fan mode]

Umm, like I said, thanks for the link.
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on April 10, 2002

And she has great big hooters.

(Well, someone would eventually have said it)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:00 PM on April 10, 2002

Faze, maybe some anger management classes will help with that Stairway hostility.

And "...wonderful 1960s musical renaissance"? That's a joke innit?.
posted by mikhail at 10:16 PM on April 10, 2002

...maybe some anger management classes will help with that Stairway hostility.
Sigh. I know. But while some people get angry about politics, I get angry about pop music. The Middle East situation leaves me unmoved. But a lousy song really gets my dander up. It's so unnecessary.
posted by Faze at 6:41 AM on April 11, 2002

Faze, your rant is pretty over the top...but I can't find one word to disagree with. Bravo!

Back in...1972? I remember one night I was hanging out in my car with two--TWO!--women I had raging crushes on, and we were getting...strange...and listening to music. It was probably "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" or something, it usually was, that song was a month long. And I was feeling pretty masterful, hanging out with these two beauties, aye, Kelly and Debbie it was. Then the opening arpeggio of "Stairway" came on and the stupid girls both started to CRY. They sat there hugging each other and crying for the sheer swellness of it all and that's when I decided I was going to join the astronaut corps. Stupid quaaludes
posted by rodii at 7:34 AM on April 11, 2002

rodii, this is sonething you may know--I remember hearing a 45 of a cover of Stairway To Heaven in 1977--oh, I'm sure it's been mentioned here before somewhere--with the lyrics of the Theme From Gilligans Island substituted for the original words, and they fit perfectly and hilariously. It was my understanding that Zeppelin sued and the record's now a costly collector's item. But who did and the story of what happened are a couple of things I've wondered about ever since, in a very desultory way.
posted by y2karl at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2002

Now I've got "Jolene" totally stuck in my head.

Ahhh. I've loved Dolly since I was a wee tot growin' up in Denton, Texas. Remember "9 to 5"? She so rocks.

Her last album, the bluegrass one, is on my Amazon wishlist. I want it so bad - Dolly + bluegrass = earworm heaven.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2002

Wasn't that "Stairway to Gilligan's Island" a Dead Milkmen song? *checks* No. I don't think Zeppelin sued over it, but I could be wrong.

The best transformation of "Stairway," of course (don't talk to me about your Dread Zeppelin) was the title of a Butthole Surfers' album: "Hairway to Steven."
posted by rodii at 9:03 AM on April 11, 2002

I seem to recall a sketch on some comedy show(possibly SCTV) that was a parody of K-Tel ads, only the album they were selling consisted of nothing but wildly incongruous "Stairway" covers, complete with fake sound bites. For some reason, the only artist I can remember from it was Buffy St.Marie.
posted by jonmc at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2002

Who was wildly incongruous in her own right. I seem to recall Gilda Radner doing an impression of her--kinda like shooting fish in a barrel with that tremelo--on SNL.
posted by y2karl at 9:42 AM on April 11, 2002

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