When Fleetwood Mac released their song “Landslide” in 1975, the lyrics spoke to a generation of people who were experiencing a change in their lives. Decades later, the music continues to be a favorite among fans and has been covered by many artists. But what is the meaning behind the song? Some believe it’s about overcoming personal struggles, while others think it’s about accepting that change is a natural part of life. No one can say for sure, but the song continues to resonate with listeners because of its universal message.
«Landslide» is one of those songs by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac whose meaning is disputed, and there are several different points of view. The semantics of the song Fleetwood Mac – Landslide can be interpreted in many ways, but, undoubtedly, this track is one of the legendary ones of all time; it is a very beautiful and inspiring artwork. This is one of Fleetwood Mac’s most enduring songs, but it was merely an album cut, as Fleetwood Mac’s label, Reprise, didn’t issue it as a single (the first UK single from the album was “Warm Ways”; the first in America was “Over My Head”). However, the song garnered consistent airplay across various formats and became a staple of their setlists.
The Story of the Fleetwood Mac – Landslide song
Stevie Nicks created this work in 1975 on guitar in about 5 minutes in Aspen, Colorado. Surrounded by mountains, she thought: «Wow, all this snow could just come tumbling down around me, and there is nothing I can do about it.» As soon as she had this feeling, she went to her room and wrote down her thoughts so she could read them and ponder what she has written.
She wrote that, in a sense, during that period, her life was like a landslide, demolishing everything in its path. Nicks was hesitant about whether she should continue in school or devote herself entirely to music, and at this turning point, she wrote the song Landslide. She was dating guitarist Lindsey Buckingham at that period of life.
Stevie recalls that during this period, she had a frank conversation with her father in her parents’ house in Phoenix. Then her father supported her, seeing that she devoted a lot of time to music, and gave her a chance to be creative and, at the same time to return to school if nothing happened. Nicks is grateful to her father for this and sometimes, during the performance of Landslide, she says that she dedicates this song to him. So, Stevie was very grateful and enthusiastically pursued music further as part of Fleetwood Mac.
These emotional performances were repeated on subsequent tours, as fans were always eager to see the ex-lovers share a poignant moment, which could range in intensity to anodyne hand-holding to passionate soul-gazing. Nicks insists those are real emotions on display. She told Rolling Stone: “You can go onstage and have a bit of a love affair, and when you return to your separate dressing rooms, it’s over. But while you’re on the stage, it’s real.»
On tours, Fleetwood Mac performs «Landslide» more often than other songs because fans love it. Since Stevie joined the band, there hasn’t been a single tour that the song hasn’t been performed (only the Shake the Cage). Stevie almost always performs the composition on his live shows, as well as on television performances. «Landslide» was performed at such legendary venues as London’s Wembley Arena in 1980. The track was first included on the Fleetwood Mac 1975 album. Frontwoman also performed the song with an orchestra at the 2002 Stormy Weather benefit.
When Fleetwood Mac regrouped for The Dance tour in 1997, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sang the song alone on stage, and by the end of the performance, their eyes were filled with tears.
What does Fleetwood Mac – Landslide song mean?
Before we delve into the meaning of the text itself in more detail, let’s look at what the title of the track «Landslide» means from different points of view.
It is unlikely, but it should not be ruled out that the song is literally about an earth landslide, some kind of natural disaster from which a person cannot hide. And, therefore, also about the power of nature and its enormous strength. You can think of the meaning that a person should respect nature and not fight with it but cooperate.
Fear and love
There is such an interpretation of the meaning of the title: The song’s about a woman who climbs a mountain at the end of a love affair, sees her reflection in the mountains covered with snow, and becomes less afraid. In the text, the heroine directly asks: what is love?
Perhaps the Landslide acts here as a kind of certainty, something from which one cannot run away and which demolishes everything in its path, and we are all powerless before fate and time. It’s like you feel like you’re on top of the world, and something’s going on to remind you that we’re all just human.
New life, a new way
The song is probably about starting life from scratch and the strength not to look back into the past. And this is not weakness but the growth of a person. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham broke up a year after writing the song.
There is an opinion that the song is about loss and the ability to let go of what is inevitable, for example, the loss of parents. And this is the beauty of the art of music – it helps us get through the most challenging periods of life and, cope with our emotions, live them to the fullest.
Some music connoisseurs have a crazy but exciting opinion that the author is singing about drugs in a veiled way.
The most controversial lines of the composition
We will consider those parts of the text that make it ambiguous.
«Took this love, and I took it down» – here we cannot say we can’t say unequivocally, love for whom ended: for the father of the author or the man. Depending on this, the song takes on a completely different meaning.
«Till the landslide brought me down» – here we cannot say for sure whether the Landslide knocked the heroine down or in a figurative sense – shocked, gave the necessary shake-up, amazed.
«Well, the landslide will bring it down» – here, the avalanche acts as a huge force capable of demolishing everything and destroying it, erasing it as if it never happened. And we understand that nothing lasts forever, and an avalanche is a time of our lives.
The line in the song «I was afraid to change because I built my life around you» is unlikely to be about her father because children don’t often build their lives around their parents. At least that part of the song is about someone she was in love with.
«And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills,» «Oh, mirror in the sky» – the song talks about mirrors and reflections many times, here everyone can think for themselves what it means. After all, every person in our life and every landscape is, in a sense, our reflection, and we reflect on each other.
The Meaning of the Song Fleetwood Mac – Landslide song
«Landslide» is full of doubt, uncertainty in the future, and questions to the world and the author herself. «Oh I don’t know, oh I don’t know,» – sings Nicks, and it becomes easier for the listener because these doubts on the path of life are natural, and each of us inevitably encounters them.
The song’s plot is quite understandable: the heroine climbs the mountain and watches the snow avalanche from there. She has different thoughts, which, in turn, should prompt the thoughts of listeners.
This song is mainly about a relationship between a father and daughter or two lovers. Also, this is a song about growing up, about the transition from the state of the inner child to the state of an adult. We see all this in one line: «Can the child within my heart rise above?», «I’m getting older too.» Sometimes circumstances force us to grow up abruptly; in this work, the Landslide on the top of the mountain acted as an incentive to grow up. But we understand that any storm can act as a landslide in real life: illnesses, losses, crises, and other trials of fate. So the song is very philosophical and makes you think about life.
We can say that the song is, to some extent, about addiction: from some figure that the author of the music loved. It doesn’t matter if it’s a father or a lover. She sings: «Well, I’ve been afraid of changing because I’ve built my life around you.» And this, unfortunately, is now a common situation when a woman dissolves in the object of her love and loses her individuality, lives a life that is not her own. You can never build your life around someone, and you need to be always in the first place, have your own plans and dreams, and be independent of other people. The song is also about the ability and strength to let go of the old, move on, and get rid of burdensome relationships that no longer bring joy to both participants.
Perhaps the song’s meaning is to remember the finiteness of everything that happens. An avalanche can cover us in the mountains so that death can overtake us anytime. Therefore, you cannot remain a child all your life; you need to live your life, grow up, and climb the mountain until you reach your peak. And enjoy every moment before the avalanche comes to knock us down.
Landslide is a story about change and the fear of the new. You are afraid to end the relationship because you do not know how to continue to exist. Scared to start something new, suddenly it will not work out. You are afraid to leave your parental home; suddenly, you can’t cope. But then an avalanche comes, and you are forced to act. So don’t wait for an avalanche, but start acting before things are still not so bad. We must remember that something in our life is collapsing like a landslide, but something always remains – these are mountains. In 2014, the singer shared her thoughts on writing the composition with the New York Times: «I wrote Landslide in 1973 when I was only 27, but in many ways, I already felt old. I have worked as a waitress and cleaner for many years. Fatigue constantly accompanied me. Music was my right way to change something in life».
The song has changed meaning as the band has aged, but it remained a part of their setlist throughout their career. «When Stevie wrote that, she was probably 25 or 24,» – Lindsey Buckingham told Rolling Stone in 2013. «She wasn’t exactly ‘getting older.’ Now, with age, this line takes on a deeper perspective».
Facts about Fleetwood Mac – Landslide song
If you dig deep into history, there are many curious and surprising facts about the song Fleetwood Mac – Landslide.
Interesting facts about the track:
- As of 2017, Landslide has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan;
- Nicks wrote this the night before her dad, who was the president of Greyhound Bus Lines, was operated on at the Mayo Clinic;
- «Landslide» peaked at №51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and №10 on the Adult Contemporary chart;
- In October 2009, «Landslide» was got gold for sales of over half a million copies in the USA;
- There are many covers of the song: The Smashing Pumpkins (1994), Glee Cast with Gwyneth Paltrow, Tori Amos (1996), Dixie Chicks (2002), and Venice (1999).
- Tori Amos often performed the song at her concerts;
- Dixie Chicks gave Nicks a bowl decorated with the lyrics to the song as a present;
- The Dixie Chicks performed their version at the Grammy awards in 2003. They won three awards that year, including Best Country Album;
- «Landslide» was used in a very memorable Budweiser commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2013;
- Some songs are very similar to “Landslide” in melody and arrangement, such as Haim – Hallelujah and Simon&Garfunkel – April Come She Will;
- The 2021 novel Landslide by Susan Conley is named for this track;
- Shortly before writing the song, Stevie Nicks was a poor waitress and very tired of lack of money and lack of self-realization;
- Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had relationship difficulties that also contributed to the birth of this artwork;
- Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were recording as a duo using the name Buckingham-Nicks before they were asked to join Fleetwood Mac;
- In «Live in Boston,» she dedicates the song to Lindsey: «He showed me how to play the guitar that I used to write this song, he inspired me to this song, and I wrote it about him»;
- It was the first song that Stevie wrote on guitar.
So, «Landslide» is a cult song that does not get old and will be relevant at any time and for people of any country. The general mood of the song is gentle, sad, but not hopeless, but full of hope. And this is the most important thing.