Blige and her mega-watt band, which also included “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson on bass and producer Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, The Pussycat Dolls) doubling up duties on piano, met for a “top secret” recording session on Tuesday night, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The destination of the track isn’t really clear at the moment, with the Times claiming it will end up on Blige’s next album and MTV.com listing its destination as the re-release of Stronger With Each Tear on March 15.
What is certain is that “Stairway” isn’t the only Zeppelin track the singer is tackling.
During an interview for a Hotstar feature on Orianthi earlier this year, her manager Stirling McIlwaine at 19 Entertainment let this tidbit slip with the proviso I keep it secret at the time: “She’s getting ready to go into the studio to cut ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with Mary J. Blige.”
McIlwaine also said that “Love” would be helmed by the man behind many of Lady Gaga’s massive hits, RedOne.
Before the screaming starts (if it hasn’t already), it should be noted that Blige does have some history on the rock front. Her performance of U2’s “One” with Bono at the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony was regarded as one of the highlights of the night. Since then, the singer has been egged on by the band’s frontman to let her rock diva out to play more often.
And Fair told the Times she definitely has the chops to cover Zeppelin.
“Some people might consider it blasphemy, but Mary’s voice really is a nice match [for the song]” Fair said. “Robert Plant’s high-pitched blues thing is right in step with Mary’s vocal range, and she brings the soul music to it, which is what Plant was going for in the first place.”
“You approach it as yourself; you don’t try to be the artist,” she told the Times.
The singer elaborated further on the challenge of living up to Plant’s vocals to Spinner.com, saying, “I think this song is not hard at all because it’s based on pure emotion.
“You gotta get lost in the rock-and-roll moment of it all, and once you get lost in the rock-and-roll moment of it, all you can do is scream to the top of your lungs or go as low as you need to go. It’s not a head thing – it’s a spirit thing.”
As for finding a meaning behind the song’s cryptic lyrics, Barker told Spinner.com he thinks Blige came up with a great interpretation.
“In a room full of people, we were all asked what we thought the song was about, and no one knew,” the drummer said. “How Mary interprets the song – she feels a stairway to heaven is how women might buy a bunch of things to make them feel like are in heaven or in peace with all these materialistic things – and then going back and looking at the words, I think she nailed it.”
For those Zeppelin fans out there warming up the tar and feathers, you should remember that there are far worse things than a Mary J. Blige cover of a Led Zeppelin song. Like this, for example.