On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Stevie Nicks – Edge of Seventeen (1981)
We’re leaving the UK again, dear reader, and returning to the US and on to Arizona. Our guest today became a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1975 and played a big part in their huge selling album, Rumours. When we join Stevie Nicks in 1981 she is still with the Mac but has decided to branch out and pursue a solo career alongside her band commitments. Her debut album – Bella Donna – soon came and 1001 Songs have selected the track – Edge of Seventeen.
Edge of Seventeen has an interesting history. The title came from a conversation Stevie Nicks had with Jane Petty, first wife of Tom Petty, who used the phrase “age of seventeen” but through her Southern accent, Nicks heard “edge of seventeen” and retained the title for a future song. The subject matter became something less fun than linguistic confusion. In the same week in December 1980 Nicks received the devastating news that John Lennon had been murdered and this was soon followed by the passing of her uncle from cancer. Though she did not know Lennon, Nicks was deeply affected by the loss of both men and thus Edge of Seventeen was born. The song describes emotional torment linking to Nick’s uncle passing as the song’s narrator races down a hallway looking for someone, anyone, to speak to. There are references to white doves which are metaphors for spirits leaving bodies and we also hear imagery conveyed of Lennon with “words of a poet” and “voice of a choir.” Nicks was clearly struggling to deal with her feelings at this time and the song conveys a living soul deeply lost in a trying moment.
Edge of Seventeen is a long and ambitious track, an ode to two men that clearly meant a lot to Stevie Nicks. It is testament to how individuals we don’t necessarily know – often celebrities – leave a huge void in our lives when they are gone due to the impact their art has on us. I still reel from the fact that in January 2016 David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away within 7 days of one another. That was tough. Though Nicks has continued as a member of Fleetwood Mac, Bella Donna would prove to be a huge success for her and a demonstration of her gift for songwriting which would result in many more solo albums.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)