This Friday’s video will be pretty easy to enjoy. It’s a musical performance from The Kennedy Center Honors, where Anne and Nancy Wilson (from the band Heart) perform the Led Zeppelin hit Stairway to Heaven. With missing member John Bonham’s son on drums, they perform before many distinguished guests, including the President and Mrs. Obama, as well as the three surviving members of the band, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant.
In a Vancouver Sun article, the writer suggested that Plant cried “tears of joy.” I do hope they were right about that. It’s an awesome song and he did a fantastic job doing the original interpretation. And I do think there’s a greater likelihood that they were correct, but to illustrate a point, I want you to consider the following:
We have no idea of the backstory behind this concert. Plant may be a very humble man and was moved by the honour. Further, he may be like many brilliant artists in that he has trouble owning his own talent. Maybe he feels lucky. Fortunate. And so when he thinks of who is in the room and what the honour means, we see tears form. Or…
Maybe he was close to Bonham in a very special way. Maybe he and Bonham’s son shared a common struggle, like an addiction, or growing up without a dad around. And so when Plant sees him performing in front of the President, he may be thinking about how the performance will cement Bonham’s father’s place as good man and worthwhile father and he knows the special meaning of that. Or…
Maybe when they got the honour they asked Led Zeppelin to perform for the President. But maybe Plant can’t hit those particular notes certainly enough for him to risk it at such an event. And so while he loves the version and is honoured, maybe he’s crying because he knows he’ll never sing it that way again.
Stories. We make them up for ourselves and for everyone else. And everyone else makes them up for us and everyone they see. It’s a giant maze of guesses and judgments. Thank God there’s music.
Enjoy. And see if you can figure out what you think he’s thinking. 😉
And if you’re interested in delving deeper into the idea of aging , I would highly recommend checking out this poignant comedy piece by Jonathan Goldman, from the CBC Radio One program, Wiretap.