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In some live performances (e.g. from the album "The Song Remains the Same", which was recorded live in 1973), Robert Plant stated that "I think that [Stairway to Heaven] is a song of hope." Why did he say that?

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There's a facetious answer to this, which is: because that's how he felt that day.

However, it's less facetious than it first appears. Page himself has said in interview that he has little clear idea of what the lyrics mean - if they mean anything - and his interpretation of them changes frequently.

"Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way - and I wrote it"

"It’s like an orgasm at the end. It’s whatever you want it to be."

"If you absolutely hated Stairway to Heaven, nobody can blame you for that because it was so ... pompous" - Interview, Q magazine, 1988

"I struggle with some of the lyrics from particular periods of time. Maybe I was still trying to work out what I was talking about. [ . . . ] Every other f***er is." - PR event, 2012

However, we know that an artist's interpretation of their own work is only one window on to its meaning, so let's take a look at the lyrics. There's a lot of mysticism, wrapped around a fable of a woman who thinks she can buy happiness with money. There are two aspects of the song that are worth attention in this context. Here's some individual lines:

Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings ...
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving ...
Ooh, it really makes me wonder ...
Yes, there are two paths you can go by ...

These sorts of lines, together with the mystical nature of the lyrics, imply that uncertainty is a key part of living. The woman is "sure", she "knows" that she can buy her staircase and will "get what she came for", yet the tone of the song suggests she is wrong. Not only can you not buy happiness, but there is little which is certain in life.

Consider, then, some more individual lines:

There's a songbird who sings ...
When I look to the west ...
It's just a spring clean for the May queen ...
There's still time to change the road you're on ...
The piper's calling you to join him ...

There are all motifs of hope: birdsong, the west (where the sun rises), the spring, time for change, time to join. In particular the very end of the song is packed with messages of hope:

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

If we concentrate, we will find the tune - a metaphor for the a spiritual outcome - that we've been looking for. And in doing so we will become closer together - more like one - and that will bind us, cement us is place and in peace. It's significant this is the denouement of the song, since it goes out on this positive message after having wound cryptically along for much of its length.

In summary then, the song was written deliberately to invite multiple, shifting interpretations, but one of those is certainly a message of hope and comfort since that's the tone on which it concludes.

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