When Dolly Decides to Take On a World-Famous Golden Oldie Blues-Rock Song, “Stairway to Heaven”, the Crowd Goes Silent.
The thing about Dolly Parton is, either you like her or you don’t like her. Obviously now referring to her music, voice and songs. She will not mind if you don’t, as with her international fame and millions of records she sold over the past few decades, she needs no confidence boost. As matter of fact, her confidence to achieve where others have failed before was no more evident than the last song of her performance in 2002 at her “Live & Well” concert, performed at Dollywood theme park.
It is already a huge risk to cover another famous artist’s or band’s most popular hit song. So much more if the song became iconic over the past 33 years and then, just to push the risk factor far over the red zone, if you are covering something which is not even in your own genre of music. That is one crazy risky performance, which can cast a black shadow over any singer’s career, no matter how big you are in the industry when it is a failure.
The Dolly fan crowd, used to her normal kind of music, was stunned when the guitarist started playing the very familiar into to “Stairway to Heaven”, the hit song by none other than Led Zeppelin, recorded in 1969. The first thought is, “Dolly my dear, how are you going to pull this off? This is Blues-Rock baby!”. Then first in whispering voice “There’s a lady who’s sure”, and then a small notch up, “All that glitters is gold” and then breaks the unmistakably Dolly voice through, when hitting the higher notes, “and she’s buying a stairway to heaven”.
Removing the grunge and metal instrumental solos from the original, you are taken into a new dimension of this song, with Dolly guiding you through familiar lyrics, but now with a velvety tone. Listening to Dolly’s rendition one cannot help to agree with old Satchmo when he greeted Dolly and said: “I feel the room swayin, while the band’s playin’ one of our old favorite songs from way back when”. This performance was later taken up in Dolly’s album Halos & Horns.