thatguyaz's current selection is:
Stairway to Heaven (Live at Kennedy Center Honors)
by Heart
Picking up an idea that first surfaced on a post by @drumnbass last month:

This is a cover of the Led Zeppelin classic as performed by Heart at the Kennedy Center Honors on December 2, 2012, with Jason Bonham making a guest appearance on drums.

For non-Americans who aren't familiar, the Kennedy Center was first envisioned by Eleanor Roosevelt as a national cultural center - a place where American art could be displayed in the nation's capital to visitors from across the world. President Eisenhower got behind the idea and in 1958 got Congress to appropriate startup funds for the project. A series of fundraising events helped fully pay for the construction of the $70 million building which sits on the Potomac River adjacent to the infamous Watergate complex. Wikipedia says: Foreign countries provided gifts to the Kennedy Center, including a gift of 3,700 tons of Carrara marble from Italy (worth $1.5 million) from the Italian government, which was used in the building's construction. You see the finished building at the start of this video.

President Kennedy had been a champion of the project, and in the wake of his death the building was named after him. President Johnson was there when the project broke ground in 1964. The building houses several theaters and performance halls, as well as a beautiful elevated patio with sweeping views of both Washington and the Virginia suburbs across the Potomac. Not-so-fun fact: I once got engaged there, but thankfully I dodged that relationship bullet. (See story on my post of Marc Cohn's "True Companion" if you want more info.)

Since 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors have been awarded annually by the Center's Board of Trustees. Each year, five artists or groups are honored for their lifetime contributions to American culture and the performing arts, including dance, music, theater, opera, film, and television. Those artists are honored at a gala performance (which for many years was hosted by President Kennedy's daughter, Caroline) in early December, which is taped, edited, and then broadcast on CBS during the winter primetime broadcast TV doldrums. The President and First Lady were always guests of honor, at least until the Trump administration - Trump and his wife have avoided the ceremony altogether the past two years. For musical inductees like we have here, there is usually a brief documentary outlining the significance, history and major achievements of the artist, spaced out with live performances from other artists who admire their work and want to pay tribute to the inductee.

I was a bit amused by the award to Led Zeppelin in 2012, because of course they're a British band - but hey, they certainly contributed to American culture. (The Who were inducted a few years earlier, so there was a precedent.) Seeing John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant there in the balcony during the performance wearing the multicolor award medallions was pretty heart-melting (no pun intended) because their faces are so readable, and their emotions at the performance so visible.

Ann and Nancy Wilson and friends do amazing work here and carve out a faithful tribute, but at the 4:55 mark this version launches into orbit. Whoever decided to bring in a full choir needs a raise, and maybe some sort of award in their own right. This is a timeless performance that fully equals the brilliance of the original. A YouTube commenter said this: "You know you've reached the top of your game when you can perform 'Stairway To Heaven' in front of Led Zeppelin and get a standing ovation from them."

You need to watch this one. Trust me.

I've probably watched or listened to it a dozen times since it first aired, and it *STILL* makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Every time.
2012 - From "The Kennedy Center Honors"
Posted: 9th September 2019
He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman. I've turned off most of the notifications from here, so if you want me to see your post please tag me @thatguyaz
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