Great Moments in Badass Rock History: Stevie Nicks and "Silver Springs"

The best revenge is a hit song about what a jerk your ex was.

Sep 13, 2011 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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In 1997, drama-addled 70s rock icons Fleetwood Mac reunited, in spite of decades of turmoil that would make even former Real World castmembers wring their hands with aghast horror. This was the line-up that I remember best from my own childhood, the one that consisted of Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and, of course, Stevie Nicks.

The performance was called “The Dance”, and it was recorded by MTV to be aired as a special. Both the performance and the live album would be enormously successful, spawning two new charting hits for the band, both of them songs written by Stevie Nicks.

“Landslide” continues to be popular, and was recently featured on an episode of "Glee," but it’s “Silver Springs” I want to talk about.

As the story goes, Nicks wrote “Silver Springs” about Buckingham. For many, many years, the two of them were in a  notoriously on-again off-again relationship to damn them all, and the song reflects it.

"Silver Springs" was originally recorded to be included on the 1977 album “Rumours”, but the band pulled it at the last second, in a move that Nicks has called “probably one of the most devastating things anybody has ever done to me in my life... Silver Springs was all about me and Lindsey, you know, and all- I mean…. I mean, he didn’t write beautiful love songs about me, but I did write some beautiful love songs about him.”

It’s fair to say Nicks has a bit of emotional attachment to this song, yes? It is a great breakup song, one of the best, lyrically: “Time cast a spell on you, but you won't forget me/I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me/I'll follow you down til' the sound of my voice will haunt you/You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.”

Stevie Nicks is an INTENSE LADY. So when, about four minutes into the live performance, Nicks turns to Buckingham and sings directly to him, the tension is freaking palpable. And wonderful.

It's almost as if she’s forgotten there’s an audience there at all. To anyone who’s ever doubted that middle-aged women were capable of as much rage and passion as their younger counterparts, I challenge you to watch that exchange and not be moved.

Later, when asked what she hoped to communicate to Buckingham with the song, Nicks said of “Silver Springs”: “I’m so angry with you. You will listen to me on the radio for the rest of your life, and it will bug you. I hope it bugs you.” At the time “The Dance” was filmed, it was literally 20 years later, and she is vehement as ever.

You gotta love a righteously angry wronged woman like that. When I grow up, I’ll be happy if I can be half as badass as Stevie Nicks.