In February, Blige recorded "Stairway To Heaven" with an all-starensemble of musicians. Travis Barker played drums. Steve Vai and ThisIs It newcomer Oranthiwere on guitar. Geffen Records chairman Ron Fair played piano, and AmericanIdol judge Randy Jackson, who assembled the band, handled bass.
Blige said she wanted to remake a Zeppelin classic as a bonus for heroverseas release. "Ron Fair and myself and my label all were brainstormingabout what is the next big rock 'n' roll record that Mary can take on for the U.K.," Blige saidin a behind-the-scenes video about the song. "I remember doing 'One' for the Breakthrough album and everyone reallyreceiving it and loving it."
Fair believes U2 lead singer Bono originally suggested the idea. "Mary J. Blige hasa lot of great friendships with musicians around the world, one of which isBono," Fair said. "They were all hanging out and the subject of Led Zeppelincame up. And I think Bono's the one who threw the gauntlet down and said, 'You've got to do 'Stairway To Heaven.'"The positive feedback Blige received for "One" made her want torelease more rock covers to appeal to new fans. Blige is not new to remakingclassic songs. She has made her own versions of Chaka Khan's"Sweet Thing," Rose Royce's "I'm Going Down," and even the19th century Christmas carol "What Child Is This" with operagreat AndreaBocelli.
When remaking a song, Blige said she does not try to emulate the originalrecording. "I just never think of what the actual artist is doing,"she told EntertainmentTonight. "I always look deep into Mary and give them what I woulddo."
Jackson saidthe song sounds amazing. "No one would ever have thought that Mary J.Blige would be doing this kind of a record, but Mary is just universal. She isjust worldwide," Jacksonsaid in the making-of video.
Blige, who first heard the song as a child, took some time to interpret thelyrics. "To me the song took on the meaning of a woman who is trying to buy herway to peacefulness," Blige said. "Sometimes, I feel like if I want a pair ofshoes, I want them for a reason. I want to feel confident. Those shoes are goingto make me feel great today. Or a shopping spree will make me feel great today.It's like buying your way to peace--which is heaven."The 1972 original, written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, was never releasedas an official single in the U.S.Still, the song was one of the most popular songs on American radio stations inthe '70s. It first appeared on Led Zeppelin's fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV.
- Stairway To Heaven
- Randy Jackson