Category Archives: Song analysis

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – Analysis of the lyrics

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

[[Analysis of the lyrics: It strikes me that there is an analogy with the parable of the ten virgins, five wise and five foolish in Matthew 25:1-13, the latter of whom think they can buy that lamp-oil of God’s grace, that idiocy acting as a foil by which to interpret Genesis 2:4–3:24 in view of Jacob’s ladder (see Genesis 11:1-9), etc. Most probably the writer for Led Zeppelin meant something totally different, but I’m happy to have my own imagination. Lighten up. :¬) Anyway, this is a desperately melancholy ballad. And, by the way, the second of the two paintings in the video above (the one you also see before starting the video) is in the exact same style as a mural painted in my Catholic high school back in the day.]]

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold [[ In other words, a soul totally spaced out narcissistic idiot utterly given over to peripheral, unimportant, sensory overloading. ]]
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[She’s so very special in her own eyes that she’s even her own redeemer. She can buy anything, even a stairway to heaven.]]
When she gets there [[the stairway store!]] she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for. [[Sure she can! Riiiiiiggghhht!]]
Ooh ooh and she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[Soooo melancholic.]]
There’s a sign on the wall [[Iesu Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum]]
But she wants to be sure [[One can never have certainty when one remains on the level of mind games, which insist that words can have two meanings.]]
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. [[Satan, a liar and murderer from the beginning brings that about.]]

fatima lucia trinity mercy

Tree with the Fountain of Salvation with the Holy Spirit convicting us of our sin by way of offering forgiveness.

In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings, [[[The Tree of the Living Ones with the fruit of everlasting life, from whom springs living water, see John 4:14, with that songbird of the second creation at the redemption already having been mentioned at the first creation hovering over the waters, see Genesis 1:2.]]
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven. [[But even given that, we are so very weak after original sin and our thoughts become confused with nervous rationalization and attempts at self-redemption.]] 
Ooh, it makes me wonder, [[overthinking it, falling into counting on oneself?]]
Ooh, it makes me wonder. [[uh-oh… overthinking it…]]
There’s a feeling I get [[“feeling”]]
When I look to the west, [[Adam and his wife leave from from East of the Garden, in other words, they are looking toward the West in driven out.]]
And my spirit is crying for leaving. [[The Paradise aspect of the Garden.]]
In my thoughts I have seen [[perhaps now for metanoia?]]
Rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking. [[The cherubim with their sword of fire for our conversion protecting the Tree of the Living Ones amidst the other trees.]]
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder. [[So, still overthinking at this point? Falling into the mind game thing? Ready to fall? We are so weak after original sin.]]
And it’s whispered that soon, [[Adam’s sin and judgment against it.]] If we all call the tune [[We’re in control! We can “call” it! Self-redemption! Here, original sin has paved the way for our own sin.]]

pan

Then the piper will lead us to reason. [[Because – Hey! – the Piper (Pan, the Demon of all demons, the Ancient Dragon, Satan) can have us continue mind games of “reason” by which he was able to deceive Adam and his wife! But, of course, reason over against obedience to God in heaven is not reasonable while love in obedience to God in heaven makes it all reasonable.]]
And a new day will dawn [[the New Adam, the Redeemer promised in Genesis 3:15]]
For those who stand long [[“Stand”, that is, not following after the piper.]]
And the forests will echo with laughter. [[That’s all of us in scriptural symbolism; also, all of creation awaits with eager expectation of the revelation of the sons of God: see Romans 8:19.]]
If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, [[the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Virgin Mary.]]
Don’t be alarmed now, [[Saint Gabriel to Mary: Luke 1:29-30]]
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen. [[The Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer.]]
Yes, there are two paths you can go by [[that is, now that the Redeemer has come: that of the Tree of the Living Ones with the gift of enmity over against Satan, or that of the Tree of Knowing good admixed with evil.]]
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on. [[That’s true, avoiding presumption, or also repenting from that presumption. This announces continued belligerent sin, but, also, possibly, final repentance.]]
And it makes me wonder. [[Still overthinking it? Still subject to the consequences of original sin, particularly being subject to the mind games of Satan, still being tempted to those mind games. Thus:]]
Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know,
The piper’s calling you to join him, [[As long as we are in the world, the prince of this world, the prince of darkness, Satan is after us, enticing us with his mind games.]]
Dear lady [[not the May queen, not the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, but the soul still unfortunately looking to redeem itself.]], can you hear the wind blow, [[a wonderful reference to Genesis 3:8 when God approaches to announce judgment against Satan and also the redemption to come.]]
And did you know [[a bit of most wonderful irony is now to be stated:]]
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind. [[Again, Genesis 3:8; and the stairway is the Divine Son of the Mother of the Redeemer (see Jacob’s ladder, Genesis 28:11-22, and, directly in reference to Jesus, John 1:51); however, He is a stairway that cannot be bought.]]
And as we wind on down the road [[uh-oh… which one of the two?]]
Our shadows taller than our soul. [[The road of evil has been chosen, going away from the light, with all becoming darker. Can the soul come back: “In the long run there’s still time to change”?]]
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light [[the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer who provides her Divine Son to us with that enmity, that grace, that “white light.” But, more intense irony here:]] and wants to show
How ev’rything still turns to gold. [[“Still”, that is, not in the same way in which one started, but the redemption turning our sin into an occasion for receiving new life, heaven, as Saint Augustine says: “O felix culpa! Oh happy fault!]]
And if you listen very hard [[That is, receptive, not attempting to redeem oneself, but receiving the new heavenly music.]]
The tune will come to you at last. [[This is in utter contrast with the music of the “piper” which, instead, harasses and is seemingly inescapable: “Your head is humming and it won’t go.” This new tune, starting from that discordant note – as pointed out by Ven. Archbishop Fulton J Sheen – brings all into harmony.]]
When all are one and one is all [[see 1 Corinthians 15:28]]
To be a rock and not to roll. [[see, e.g., Numbers 20:11; Psalm 18:32, 73:26; John 7:37, 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4… Christ is the rock (ubiquitous bedrock), we are finally one with Him, so, moving down the wrong path is not the choice to make, though it can still be made.]]
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. [[Sooo melancholic. Still sin. Still thinking oneself to be in control even of one’s own redemption. This is the temptation of the soul after being tossed from the paradise aspect of the garden, thinking we can simply reach out our hand to grasp at the fruit of the Tree of the Living Ones as we think that then, by our actions, we will redeem ourselves and live forever; see Genesis 3:22. No. Doesn’t work that way. But, in this song there is hope held out to the soul if the soul will listen: “But in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.]]

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So, there we have it, my imagination about the lyrics. As I say, I enjoy having an imagination. :¬) One thing, however, which I try to avoid at all costs, is to have any imagination which it comes to the interpretation of Scripture. In that case, no novelty, nothing new, only that which is ever ancient, ever new.

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Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and terrorism victims

aerosmith dream on

Lots of terrorism going on these days. People have different responses to terrorism. For anyone who is Catholic, the setting of the above response is really creepy, however well intended by the participants. This is obviously an ex-Catholic Church perhaps in Boston and they are singing this as a kind of requiem for the victims of the terrorism of the Boston Marathon Bombing. It would be incomparably better if the requiem was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I wouldn’t watch the above video if I were you. Having said all that, there are some good things, great things even, exceptionally superb in the original song. This is the best version, with just lyrics:

Aerosmith: “Dream On” [correct lyrics below]

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way
Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay [“Dues in life” is a reference to justice in a stanza filled with honesty and humility before the consequences of sin as serious as death. Truth be told, not many are so honest, even among religious leaders. Moveover, there is a leveling out here, not one who is more or less guilty. This is very close to a description of the consequences of original sin.]

Yeah. [He’s answering objections about how we know about the consequences of what? Original sin?] I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes [“it” = mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of iniquity, because it truly is a mystery, as mentioned by so many of the Fathers of the Church and in Magisterial interventions (such as with Saint John Paul II), for how can we fathom how evil was chosen over good, and how can we even begin to fathom the damage as this specter marches on in slaughter right through the ages and epochs of the full length of time]
I know it’s “Everybody sins” [That’s one incomplete but effectively correct way to put it]
You got to lose to know how to win [There you go. Very cool. Just be humble and realize what the situation is, not futilely attempting to run away from it, not denying it, but facing it, and so now ending the losing and beginning to win, as it’s only with such humility that one can turn, or better be turned to that which is right.]

Half my life
Is in books’ written pages [humanity is so similar, with other peoples’ lives acting like a mirror to our own lives, and yet we have individuality, free will, choices…]
Live and learn from fools and
From sages [as there is much more going on with each of us, the currents running deep with each of us, regardless of whether others correctly or incorrectly label us as fools or as sages, it being that we’re a little of both.]
You know it’s true, oh
All the things come back to you [Yes, we always have opportunities to reflect, to learn.]

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today [all this being reminiscent of the Preacher, Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth: there’s a time for…]
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [But have you been humble?]

Yeah, sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [Repetition: encouragement]

Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true [the dream, the aspiration, the desire, is that in being humble, that is, honest in the face of what life has become after original sin, we can hope that the Lord will take us from this vale of tears and away to heaven.]
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on, aw…

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away
Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away [I like it; I like it a lot.]

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Kansas: “Carry On Wayward Son” Catholic analysis of the lyrics

This is just my unabashedly Catholic interpretation of Kerry Allen Livgren’s Carry on Wayward Son. You’ll remember he also wrote Dust in the Wind. Kerry continues his spiritual journey as an evangelical Christian after a major stroke some years ago. I don’t know if his family has Catholic heritage to it (so to speak, though the family names speak strongly of this), but note the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the mantelpiece above the fireplace on the cover of the album. He’s thinking about it…

KANSAS: “Carry on Wayward Son”

Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more [These advisers are angels, encouraging him to stay on course, looking forward in hope to heaven, his efforts being, however, to let himself be drawn to the living truth from on high. He’s just discerning this childlike simplicity, however, and is still counting a bit too much on his own efforts, as if he was his own savior. That only brings lack of peace, frustration, weariness, tears.]

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man [Under his own efforts he did realize the vanity of his own efforts, that getting to know a negative truth doesn’t bring you positively into the peace and fulfillment of the living truth. It takes quite a bit of humility not to become so frustrated that one becomes bitterly cynical. He is encouraged once again in the fog by the angels to do what he needs to do, which is, paradoxically, not to count so much on his own efforts, but rather to let himself be taken up into the living truth:]

I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
On a stormy sea of blurry emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, [He has ignored, as we might well do, the voices of the angels and their advice, entrenching himself in chaos, thinking this will bring him to what he wants so deeply. But the angels are persistent in their advice to carry on, that is, not as he has been doing, but in such manner that his own efforts to save himself can just take a rest, in which case he no longer has to be so frustrated with himself and cry.]

but I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor [This is the turning point.]
Now your life’s no longer empty [filling ourselves with ourselves is emptiness.]
Surely heaven waits for you [because now he’s letting heaven draw him there.]

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry, don’t you cry no more, no more [Fantastic. An anti-Pelagian heresy, pro-angels theological ballad. Thanks, Kerry.]

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Buffalo Springfield For What It’s Worth. Surprise Intent of Stills’ Lyrics against tender snowflake paranoid violence.

buffalo springfield

Stephen Arthur Stills of 1960s Buffalo Springfield fame penned “For What Its Worth”. Recall that he’s Canadian and that, in pre-1982 Canada, “justices of the Peace had the authority to impose a six-month jail term on anyone carrying a handgun.” [[I’ve been corrected for that in the comments. Seems he’s American. Which only reinforces my commentary here.]] The song “For What Its Worth” has always been taken as a protest, anti-gun jingo. But it’s not. One might think from a glance of the Wikipedia article that Stills might be on the protest side of things:

“In November 1966, Stills composed his landmark song, “For What It’s Worth”, after police actions against the crowds of young people who had gathered on the Sunset Strip to protest the closing of a nightclub called Pandora’s Box (contrary to later retellings by Stills, he was not present for the riot; rather, Buffalo Springfield was playing an engagement in San Francisco at the time).”

I was born in 1960 and so I was only a little kid when this came out. What did I know about anything? But I met a USMC guy the other day, perhaps 10 years older than me, who was a teenager at the time. He thinks it’s one of the best songs ever. No peacenik, he. Perhaps a fisking of the words is in order, as this will help tender snowflakes see that the ones they hold to be their gurus, such as Stills, weren’t the tender snowflakes people thought they were. Perhaps Stills was a bit adrift at the time, but he still carried some values of reason and civility from earlier baby boomer times.

In brief, it seems this song praises police action against out of control paranoid hippie rioters who cross over the line with violence and gunfire and need rightly to be “taken away” as the song says. Perhaps Stills, still going strong, might even say that he disagrees with my assessment, but he’s the one who wrote the lyrics. Whatever he intended then or now doesn’t matter so much as what the words actually say. I like what he wrote. I like it a lot.

BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD: “For What Its Worth”

There’s something happening here. [A violent riot in reaction to the closing of a night club.]

What it is ain’t exactly clear. [Stills is not automatically on the side of the rioters, is he? No. He’s calling for reason, for analysis. Good for him.]

There’s a man with a gun over there, [We don’t know who this is yet, whether a law enforcement officer or someone in the crowd. But for him, the presence of a gun from any source is not something he wants to see, though it may be necessary. The examination of the circumstances for the gun is the point of the song.]

Telling me I got to beware. [This sounds like an encouragement of paranoia from the guy with the gun, who is being annoyed with a reasonable assessment of the situation by Stills. The encouragement of paranoia is ideological manipulation which Stills disagrees with, and says so:]

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? [He’s reprimanding the protesters (“the hippie flower tender snowflake children”), telling them to stop, as, apparently, they are O.K. not only with the brandishing of a gun but with the firing of a gun (the “sound”), thus calling them out as actually being violent bullies.]

Everybody look what’s going down. [He can’t believe that what he was expecting to be a peaceful protest almost seems —  could it be? — to be pre-planned violence? He says it frankly:]

There’s battle lines being drawn. [This is a soliloquy falling on deaf ears, but he keeps going, perhaps thinking he will do some good for someone.]
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. [He goes for the jugular, attacking Marxist dialectical ideology, whereby everyone is wrong, some less than others, but with violence for all being the only way to force any disparity into a leveled out utopia.]

Young people speaking their minds, [The Marxist Antithesis]

Getting so much resistance from behind. [The Marxist Thesis]

It’s time we stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.” [Stills is frantic. But no one cares. The violence is intended to grow.]

What a field-day for the heat:
A thousand people in the street,
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly saying, “Hooray for our side!” [He’s not saying that the police action is wrong. He is pointing out that the self-congratulatory signs are shallow ideology promoting might makes right on the part of the protesters. Mindless tender snowflakes are with all of their violence from hell.]

It’s s time we stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.” [Then, after trying to get the attention of the protesters once again, he offers this overview of what’s happening:]

Paranoia strikes deep.
Into your life it will creep.
It starts when you’re always afraid. [Stills analysis is that Marxist dialectic violence comes from the frustration of cowardice, fear, with its lockstep reaction.]

You step out of line, they come and take you away. [O.K. This clinches this interpretation. The shooting of the gun is stepping out of line, and that makes for the justified reaction of law enforcement.]

We better stop, “Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.
Stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down. [Stills is stomping his feet now in a tantrum, though well justified. Basically, he’s frustrated with the tender snowflake bullies and continues to attempt to have them use a bit of reason. But, no, they won’t do it as this violence is what they always wanted from the beginning. I agree with the USMC guy I met the other day: great song! Good for Stephen Arthur Stills.]

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