Music legend Stevie Nicks turns 69 this week. We take a look at the personal stories behind five of our favorite songs she’s penned.
While Stevie Nicks‘ then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham got a gig touring with the Everly Brothers, she stayed back with her best friend in Colorado. It was 1973 and she and Lindsey had just released their first album, but a feeling of uncertainty and sadness consumed her. They were financially strapped and were at a low point in their relationship. Unsure if her singing career had a future, Stevie also felt the pressures from her family, with her father encouraging her to go back to school.
While staying at a friend’s house, she was looking out the window observing the snow and thinking of Lindsey. It was in that moment she decided she was going to try to give their relationship another try, giving birth to “Landslide.”
Shortly after, Stevie and Lindsey would get a call that would change their lives forever. Mick Fleetwood asked them to join his group, and the rest is music history.
“Dreams” was Stevie’s attempt at being philosophical about her and Lindsey’s tumultuous love affair. She loved him but he was difficult to be with. In the song she said she’d let him go his own way, but warned him he’d end up being sad and alone: “Dreams of loneliness, like a heartbeat drives you mad; in the stillness of remembering what you had and what you lost . . .and what you had…what you lost.” Whether Lindsey liked the song or not, it became Fleetwood Mac’s only No. 1 hit in the U.S.
Despite the notion that Stevie wrote “Sara” about Mick Fleetwood’s ex-wife, it was more than that. According to the artist, “Sara” was about the collective stories of what the band was going through in their relationships. “It was about Mick’s and my relationship, and it was about one I went into after Mick,” Stevie confessed. “Some songs are about a lot of things, some songs only have one or two lines that are that main thing, and then the rest of it, you’re just making a movie, writing a story around this one paragraph, that little kernel of life.”
Edge of Seventeen (1982)
Stevie wrote “Edge of Seventeen” after the emotional shock of John Lennon‘s assassination and the death of her Uncle John. She had flown down to Phoenix to see him and realized the only other person there was his son. She was holding her uncle’s hand when he died, and it left a powerful impact on her. The “white-winged dove” was a symbol of his spirit. “My Uncle John wouldn’t have wanted me to cry,” Stevie said. “He would have wanted me to write. He would have wanted me to go straight to the piano.” And so “Edge of Seventeen” came to be.
“Gypsy” was a song about bittersweet nostalgia. She wrote it based on her starving artist (pre-Fleetwood Mac) days with Buckingham. The young couple had a small apartment with not much more than a king-size mattress plopped onto the floor with a standing lamp. The “velvet underground” mentioned in the song was a downtown San Francisco clothing store where Janis Joplin and Grace Slick shopped. Stevie also said “the bright eyes” she longs to see again refers to her best friend Robin who died of leukemia and how without her, Stevie felt like a lonely gypsy.