Title: “Stairway To Nick John” (Single)
Label: Warner Music Group
Release Date: 5/17/2019
Genre: Hard Rock
Back in September 2018, Mastodon longtime manager Nick John lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and during his funeral the band paid a tribute to their friend by covering the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway To Heaven”. The track was sung by the band’s drummer Brann Dailor and the recording of this happening made its way around the Internet before being professionally recorded and released for this years Record Store Day. Now having listened to their stunning version of the track which is called “Stairway To Nick John” in his honor, I just wanted to throw together some thoughts about their take on such a classic number during such a terrible time.
I’ll start with the funeral recording which was probably captured by someone’s mobile device during the service and while there are guitars, I believe the drumming portion was done on one of those Cajon things. Brann sounded fine on the vocals despite the occasion and was to be commended on his composure as much as his talents. The guitars of Brent, Troy and Bill showed no flaw whatsoever but that was to be expected of a band as locked in together as Mastodon. Now onto the professional recording of this seminal Rock classic and a tune that is often cited as the Greatest Song of All Time. It’s without being glib that I say this is perfection from beginning to end. Sure the band does NOT sound like Led Zeppelin but they sure came pretty close on this and didn’t take any creative liberties on the song’s melody or overall structure. Mastodon proved their skill at covering such a band with this one and I’d like to think at least an EP of Zeppelin works is in their minds after just how proper they did this one. I’d also love to hear Brann singing a lot more and I don’t say this as an offense to Troy at all. I listened three or four times before offering up some opinion and think that somewhere in the great beyond, their good friend Nick is smiling down on them. This is a must add to your digital library for sure and will only run you a couple of bucks on most of the streaming services of the day. As this also was released on Record Store Day, you might be lucky if you find a copy as all of that stuff is very limited.
While I hate to be grim on such a glowing track, it’s true that cancer has most likely touched more of us than it has not in terms of family and friends that are lost to the disease. I know that I can name several . Sometimes it’s beaten while at others the road is too dark to surpass it. Let’s live life the best we can together while we can since no one knows when the timecard needs to be punched. To close up these thoughts I add a nod of respect to the late great Nick John who clearly helped this band rise to the top of the heap. May you Rest In Peace sir
1. Stairway To Nick John
2. Stairway To Nick John (Live)
Official Website: http://www.mastodonrocks.com