Author: Lionel Shriver
Music: Stairway to Heaven
Composer/Artist: Led Zeppelin
Another first. A bona fide classic rock song! A lumbering cliche!
As someone who learned to play guitar when I was about 16 and could strum a tune but was never really any good, I remember early in my college days witnessing a guy playing the intro to Stairway to Heaven at a party. My draw jopped. Or rather, my jaw dropped. I was young. I didn’t know at the time that (a) it was all the guy could bloody play and (b) just about everyone who ever picked up a guitar gets around to playing a rough approximation of Stairway to Heaven‘s distinctive intro after a while. I, however, never could get past the first few notes. I was just happy that Jimmy Page could. Of course they (Led Zeppelin) are being sued by the guy – or maybe it’s the estate of the guy – who composed the tune. I saw Robert Plant in Prospect Park in Brooklyn a couple of summers back – he still has a lot of what he had back then. Actually, I heard more than I saw. Since I was outside the fence.
As a little aside, the use of ‘bona fide’ above resulted in a bright and lively memory of my mother explaining to me years ago that in 50s and 60s Ireland, when the Catholic Church still ruled the three green fields, pubs in the state had no, or very restricted, Sunday opening hours. So, that was the way of things in the country town in which we grew up – she and my father before my siblings and me. There was a pub, as luck would have it, about five miles out the road to Dublin which was a ‘bona fide public house’ – one that was allowed to keep less restrictive hours for the ‘bona fide traveller’ – people who were legitimately on the road and needed rest and sustenance. There were many bona-fide Sunday night travellers on Irish roads half a century ago, and more.
I Googled the practice just now and the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927, in typical Irish fashion, explains what a ‘bona fide traveller’ is not, rather than what it is but, nevertheless …
“For the purposes of this section a person shall not be a bona fide traveller unless either the place where he lodged during the previous night is situate in a county borough and is at least five miles (measured by the shortest public thoroughfare) distant from the place where he demands to be supplied with intoxicating liquor, or the place where he lodged during the previous night is situate elsewhere than in a county borough and is at least three miles (similarly measured) distant from the place where he demands to be supplied with intoxicating liquor.”
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Link to streaming audio: Led Zeppelin (Spotify)