"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac is a timeless and iconic song that has resonated with so many people for several reasons. It's one of those accidental goldmines that puts it on the greatest written songs of all time, but why?
When I first heard the song as a teen, the lyrics and delivery from Stevie Nicks hit me hard, even though I didn't fully know what she was singing about.
It literally made my soul stir over the years, and as I got older and had tons of experience with anxiety, stress, and loss, each listen hit me like a landslide with more intensity.
The magic of it is that the song touches on universal themes of life's transitions, self-discovery, and acceptance, making it relatable to people of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences.
While this type of songwriting seems like it could only come from an old and wise soul, Stevie Nicks wrote this gem at 27.
Although the song can have a lot of different meanings for people, Stevie was particularly going through a period of being broke and unsure of what career move to make next.
Nicks said in an interview with The New York Times:
"I wrote 'Landslide' in 1973, when I was 27, and I did already feel old in a lot of ways. I'd been working as a waitress and a cleaning lady for years. I was tired."
The snowy hills referenced in the song are what Stevie saw as she wrote the lyrics in Aspen, Colorado, in about 5 minutes. That's right, 5 minutes.
I absolutely love it when musical genius just flows out in times of artistic inspiration in examples like these.
While her career path and the fact that she was financially the breadwinner in her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham was the main cause of stress, her father also added to the anxious mix of emotions displayed in the lyrics.
The night before her father, who held the position of president at Greyhound Bus Lines, underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic, Stevie Nicks penned this heartfelt song.
Nicks said in an interview, "My dad did have something to do with it, but he absolutely thinks that he was the whole complete reason it was ever written."
The lyrics are simple, haunting, and almost too relatable to the point where you will wonder if Stevie had insight into your own life when she was writing this. In the first verse, she sings:
I climbed a mountain and I turned aroundAnd I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills'Til the landslide brought me down
You automatically get a knot in your stomach when you hear these words, where the imagery brings you to a deep place and the memory of being brought down by something in your life just as you reached a goal.
In the second verse, she asks the mirror in the sky, or a representation of God:
Oh, mirror in the skyWhat is love?Can the child within my heart rise above?Can I sail through the changin' ocean tides?Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Who hasn't sat and asked themself questions like these? The child in us, the dreamer, the one who was always optimistic, slowly dies as we age.
Kids don't get anxiety like adults do, and we could all benefit from letting our childlike hearts soar in spite of how bleak, grim, and chaotic life can become.
Well, I've been afraid of changin''Cause I've built my life around youBut time makes you bolderEven children get older
While this can be interpreted in a lot of ways, too, this was likely where Nicks was considering giving up the dream of her music career completely.
The "you" that she was building her life around could have been her love for music, as well as her love for Buckingham and their dream of success.
Again, a child is mentioned here, but she's seemingly saying that kids have to get old, face the truth, be bold, and quit.
Thankfully, she didn't quit, though. Three months later, Mick Fleetwood called and asked Nicks and Buckingham to join Fleetwood Mac.
The song's lyrics express themes of introspection, self-doubt, and the passage of time. The simplicity in terms of instrumentation and melody captures a sense of vulnerability and intimacy that resonates with listeners.
Many fans can relate to the feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability that come with making life decisions and facing changes.
A lot of people who have dealt with loss in the family, particularly a parental figure, feel like this song is about being able to handle the grief of being knocked down.
The line about how she built her life around someone and children getting older can really make you tear up if you are missing a loved one.
The fact that Stevie's dad was going through a tough time with his health also makes this more relatable for people dealing with familial tragedy.
This song can also resonate extremely well with those who are trying to choose whether or not to leave a toxic relationship.
The lyric "What is love?" can speak to those who are having a hard time understanding the true intent of their partner's (often screwed up) actions.
"Well, I've been afraid of changin' 'Cause I've built my life around you" is a common thought process for those who feel like starting over after a bad relationship is a huge mountain to climb.
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