Blurry White Firs and Sugar Pine trees whizzed past me as I sat in the backseat of my parents’ 2002 Lincoln Navigator, barely able to see out the window as Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” played softly in the background. It’s 2007 and life is good.
Moments like those meant virtually nothing to me at the time, but now as an adult, the painfully bittersweet sound of Stevie Nicks singing about changes brings me back to long drives with my family to Lake Tahoe during late summer. But, these memories are far off into the distance as I recently entered my 20s.
“I am pretty fearless, and you know why? Because I don’t handle fear very well; I’m not a good terrified person. I learned that a long time ago.” That’s what Stevie Nicks told fellow singer Sheryl Crow in a phone conversation for Interview Magazine in 2001.
It’s no surprise; Nicks has never shied away from being open and honest in her interviews, especially in her music. Ironically though, the most heartfelt lyric in “Landslide” is “Well I’ve been afraid of changin’.”
And it’s that lyric that gets me every time, because as I’ve grown up and left childhood innocence behind, I find myself afraid of and reluctant to change, like most people. But in this song, even amongst a tragic realization that most things must come to an end, Nicks’ offers a hint of acceptance in her voice that comes with maturity and coming of age.
Many of Nicks’ songs stem from grief and sorrow, but despite this, they somehow still make you feel invincible, especially when you’re a ten-year-old girl listening to “Edge of Seventeen”, a song about death, through your hot pink iPod Nano.
Being in the Rock n’ Roll industry, Nicks dealt with a lot of drama: drugs, alcohol, affairs (see Fleetwood Mac), death, and being a woman in a male-dominated environment. Her music, especially the songs she made when she was in Fleetwood Mac, reflected the turmoil she faced throughout her young adult life.
It is widely speculated that Stevie Nicks wrote “Sara”, released in 1979, about Don Henley, whom she dated, and the pregnancy she later terminated. It wasn’t until after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer in a women’s right to choose, died in 2020, that Nicks spoke up about her abortion and said “If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac.” To come out and speak so openly about her personal experience with abortion demonstrates just how fearlessly Nicks lives her life.
Recently, I came across the song “Gold Dust Woman” from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. Upon further research, I found out gold dust is a reference to cocaine, and the song touches on Stevie’s breakup with Lindsey Buckingham, her anger, and her drug use. Overall, it’s a pretty dark song, but the haunting melody and Nicks’ signature gruff voice kind of make you feel like a badass. It’s something I’ve noticed a lot while listening to her music; even though she admits her faults time and time again, there’s still reminisce of self-acceptance and assuredness that makes you feel not-so-bad about everything.
I think what makes Stevie Nicks so special is that she’s just so brutally honest, not only with herself but with her past loves, her friends, and her family. As women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to bear some semblance of perfection and feel bad when we can’t meet impossible standards that don’t even exist for men. But Nicks’ music makes us feel a little more human, and a little more willing to embrace the mistakes we make.
After all these years, I still find it very difficult to listen to “Landslide” without crying, or at least wallowing a little in the fact that I’ll never be able to go back to my childhood. It’s comforting, though, to remember that behind these lyrics is a woman who felt, in her own way, reluctant to change and despite everything, embraced her fears with unwavering resilience.