There are very few artists as capable of evoking tangible and connective emotion as Fleetwood Mac’s extraordinary lead vocalist Stevie Nicks. Perhaps Nicks’ finest moment on record comes from a truly personal place as she delivers a scintillating performance on ‘Landslide’.
The song, often misrepresented as a love song—which isn’t really accurate—has become synonymous with Nicks’ wondrous singing voice and, below, we’ve got the isolated vocals from the song to compound that point. It’s a performance capable of shaking your very soul.
The track features on the band’s self-titled 1975 album, which along with Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s introduction, looked to truly kick start the success of Fleetwood Mac on a chart-topping scale. This beautifully rich and luxurious song is one of the mainstays of that success.
It stands among the most performed Fleetwood Mac songs and is a pivotal moment of their live show, that captures the heart and minds of their audience. Without trying to overdo it, it’s a timeless piece of music that will likely outlive us all.
The song’s emotive language and Stevie Nicks’ undeniably pure and vulnerable vocal allows the mind to wander towards this track being a love song but, in truth, the song is located in more vocational areas of the soul. Nicks wrote the material while staying in Colorado, Aspen, and while the focus of the track can feel like a lost lover, Nicks is actually pining for a career she thinks may truly be lost.
In a 2013 interview with Performing Songwriter, Nicks shared the whole tale: “It was written in 1973 at a point where Lindsey [Buckingham] and I had driven to Aspen for him to rehearse for two weeks with Don Everly. Lindsey was going to take Phil’s place. So they rehearsed and left, and I made a choice to stay in Aspen.”
Nicks and Buckingham had put their heart and soul into their debut album Buckingham Nicks and nobody had bought it, if any new project was to even start, Nicks worried it would fall flat. Instead, she decided to make her peace with her situation.
“I had been a waitress and a cleaning lady, and I didn’t mind any of this. I was perfectly delighted to work and support us so that Lindsey could produce and work and fix our songs and make our music,” she added. “But I had gotten to a point where it was like, ‘I’m not happy. I am tired. But I don’t know if we can do any better than this. If nobody likes this, then what are we going to do?’
“So during that two months, I made a decision to continue. ‘Landslide’ was the decision.”
It is this duality of determination to succeed and the vulnerability to admit that if it doesn’t succeed your life is effectively over, which marks ‘Landslide’ as one of the greatest pop songs ever written. It is also the duality that Stevie Nicks embodies in her vocal performance, at moments poignant and powerful and at others delicate and breakable.
Listen below to Stevie Nicks’ iconic isolated vocal on Fleetwood Mac’s hit ‘Landslide’.