Using Fleetwood Mac's Landslide to grow up

Using Fleetwood Mac's Landslide to grow up

Can Stevie Nicks' words really resonate over 40 years later?


I've grown up listening to Magic 98, a family-friendly radio station. They play an intriguing and nostalgic mix of classic favorites and modern hits. Many of the old folk and rock songs they played pushed me toward indie rock music in middle school and later gave me the desire to listen to music that said something profound. I don't listen to Magic 98 very often but those classic favorites have stuck with me. The simplicity of the music and the complexity of the lyrics continuously draws me back in. I know in many ways this is why older generations dismiss many modern artists. I would argue, that in fact there are many modern artists that do pursue a combination of complex subject matter and beautiful artistry successfully. However, that is not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about a song I've always heard on late night drives with my mom. It's a Fleetwood Mac song that I have kept on replay, Landslide. It's a quintessential Fleetwood Mac song. Its music is simple and comforting while the lyrics are purposeful and poignant. Stevie Nicks' familiar and raw voice beautifully displays the sadness and anxiety of starting a new chapter in life. However, nothing I have written so far hasn't been said about Fleetwood Mac or this song.

I took the time as I played Landslide over and over to actually read the lyrics. This is something I love to do. I think it heightens my experience of the song and I often find little nuggets of meaning or buried innuendos that I didn't get from just listening. I didn't find any innuendos in Landslide, but I did have a strong reaction to the poetic writing of Nicks. My reaction was so strong, so emotional it surprised me. Something told me it wasn't by chance I revisited this song. The lyrics matched up perfectly with my internal conflicts about taking a gap year as well as with many of my friends' struggles in their first month of college. It was too powerful not to share.

It's the second verse in particular that I connected with and would like to share. In this verse, Nicks is questioning her ability to deal with the decisions she makes and questioning her strength to deal with new stages of life. I want to skip the first line because I can't say I know what love is nor do I want to bore you with my ramblings about young love (yet). However, the second line is especially appropriate for my situation and my friends' situations.

In the second line, Nicks asks "Can the child within my heart rise above?". I find myself and my peers in a complicated transition where we are being plunged into adulthood at varying intensities. Unfortunately for me I sometimes feel like I have taken on responsibilities I am not equipped to handle. I can get to work on time, I can feed myself, I can keep myself clean, however, I have failed to make a needed doctor's appointment, I'm never sure if I'm spending too much and I cannot keep my clothes in the closet. However, beyond that, I've come face to face with the reality that I am responsible for my own happiness. When Nicks asks if the child in her heart can rise above I feel that she is asking if she can put her own desires, her own happiness above the pressures around her.

I'm honestly unsure how to prioritize my happiness because I'm unsure of what makes a person, or me, truly happy. For so many years now, it has been my friends. It's been late nights of questionable decision making and wholesome times of lovely banter. Now, this is limited. Now I spend four days out of the week sleeping, watching T.V., eating and working like every mature adult. My time with friends is down to three nights a week which of course I love and still makes me quite happy. For the other four days, I'm unsure of what will make me feel fulfilled. It's a scary thought but I'm excited to explore my options. Organized religion has always made me irrationally uncomfortable. While I am aware and slightly envious of the positive effects religion has on many people, I've always associated it with limitation. Religion is really not something I want to pursue but I think starting with spirituality is a safe place to start.

Moving on, the last two lines of the verse ask similar questions about one's ability to handle life changes. However, the last line to me is most poignant. Nicks ask "Can I handle the seasons of my life?". I feel very much so that all my friends and I have moved on to a new season in our life. We are all in some capacity removed from our families, our home and all that is familiar to us. We are all faced with the daunting task of finding new friends and making a foreign place feel like home. Don't fret, I think we can all do it. Either because we want to or because we have to.

I know many of my friends are unhappy where they are or are questioning the decision they made to be so far from home. To those friends, I encourage you to recognize that you have never done this before. We are all in a new season in life. It may be winter for some but we can get a coat, we can get gloves, we can get a hat and we can adapt because we are strong and we are human.

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