SLSO's Stairway To Heaven

May 18, 2012
Led Zeppelin was at Powell Hall last Friday. It wasn't exactly the real Jimmy Page, Robert Plant & Co., but the stand-ins were great and greatly assisted with backing by our St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO).

I wonder if orchestra members ever received as wild a round of approval as they received after their brilliant enhancements to the songs of the Zep. A few baby boomers even took out their old Bic lighters, flicking flames of appreciation for new renditions of "Houses of the Holy," ala SLSO.

The balcony of Powell, where my gang usually sits, was sold out when we arrived to snatch up some tickets. We had to shell out more simoleons than we planned, but it was worth it to sit up close and personal for the incredible drum solo from the days of John Bonham and "Moby."

On Saturday morning after the concert, I bragged of my good fortune to a few music professors as we stood in line for Webster University's 93rd Commencement at the Muny. Some were not entirely elated to learn the music of the English rockers packed the "House on Grand" on May 11.

"It figures that you can get a crowd like that here for some warmed over rock music, but no one wants to come anymore to hear the dead German composers," said one academic.

Perhaps I am showing my low brow taste in not being more in tune with Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner and Mahler. I do like those guys. I get out my "Best Hits of the Millennium," to do up some "Moonlight Sonata" or Bach's "Cradle Song" every so often.

However, I prefer the raw energy of Zeppelin's "Marrakesh." The violins of SLSO on that little number on Friday evening were incredible. One of the reasons Zeppelin worked for me at Powell was boomer memories the blues-rock tunes conjure - sometimes referred to as "flashbacks."

There's that flashback of a dad of yore losing it when his son cranked up "Communications Breakdown" full throttle at the fast-food drive-thru. There's that mom of yore who was mystified to find the air-conditioning turned on full blast after a New Year's Eve pre-party that was accented by five rounds of "Stairway to Heaven."

My own favorite memory was of an altercation I got in with a frat boy from Chicago named John Gorski at a college dance. He wanted to play "Blue Velvet" by his beloved Polish Prince, Bobby Vinton. I insisted on playing Zep's "Whole Lotta Love."

"How can you call this music!" Gorski yelled at me. "What is this: 'You need coolin', I'm not foolin,' I'm gonna' send you back to schoolin.' This is just not music!"

Oh, but it is! And I will be back at Powell Hall on June 22 for the Beatles Classical Mystery Tour. Low brows of the world unite! If SLSO wants to slip in a few notes by those dead German composers during the intermission on June 22, that is OK by me.

Visit Don Corrigan's blog at

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