On Dec. 26 the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors was aired on national television for the first time on CBS. During the event, which took place at the Kennedy Center Opera House, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart performed Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" with Jason Bonham on drums.
Jack Black delivered the introduction to the Zeppelin segment, calling them “the best band ever.” This was followed by performances of Zeppelin classics by the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, and Lenny Kravitz. There was some excellent musicianship displayed, but frankly it was tough for any of the lead singers to truly come close to matching Plant’s unique singing style.
But then Ann and Nancy Wilson came on stage for the finale, an inspiring “bring down the house” version of “Stairway to Heaven”, with Jason Bonham on drums. As the song progressed, back-up singers, a string section, and the Joyce Garrett Youth Choir came on stage to help perform "Stairway to Heaven".
The choir members and Jason Bonham were wearing bowler hats, which was a tribute to the band's late drummer John Bonham. Throughout the performance lead vocalist Robert Plant was noticeably moved, and towards the end of the song he had tears in his eyes.
There's a lady who's sure All that glitters is gold And she's buying a stairway to heaven When she gets there she knows If the stores are all closed With a word she can get what she came for Oh oh oh oh and she's buying a stairway to heaven
There's a sign on the wall But she wants to be sure 'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings In a tree by the brook There's a songbird who sings Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving
Ooh, it makes me wonder Ooh, it makes me wonder
There's a feeling I get When I look to the west And my spirit is crying for leaving In my thoughts I have seen Rings of smoke through the trees And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder Ooh, it really makes me wonder
And it's whispered that soon, If we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us to reason And a new day will dawn For those who stand long And the forests will echo with laughter
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow Don't be alarmed now It's just a spring clean for the May queen Yes, there are two paths you can go by But in the long run There's still time to change the road you're on And it makes me wonder
Your head is humming and it won't go In case you don't know The piper's calling you to join him Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow And did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
And as we wind on down the road Our shadows taller than our soul There walks a lady we all know Who shines white light and wants to show How everything still turns to gold And if you listen very hard The tune will come to you at last When all are one and one is all To be a rock and not to roll And she's buying the stairway to heaven
Songwriters: Jimmy Page / Robert Plant
Stairway to Heaven lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc