We’re taking a look back at one of the most priceless things in the last century of rock and roll, Stevie Nicks’ effortlessly poignant vocals with Fleetwood Mac and her solo career. Aside from technical proficiency, nobody sings it quite like Stevie.
The vocal range of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in rock. Only possibly trumped by Axl Rose and the late, great Freddie Mercury, Nicks reigns supreme as the Queen of the mic. So when we found this isolated vocal of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ we stopped dead in our tracks.
The track ‘Rhiannon’ remains a clear fan favourite and still features in much of the band’s ‘best of’ sets. Written for the band’s seminal self-titled album in 1975, shortly after Nicks and her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham joined the band, it has to be one of the greatest pop songs ever written, The most perfect pop song, written about a witch.
Nicks was known to preface the song’s performance at their live dates with the words: “This song’s about an old Welsh witch” and she’s true to her word. Nicks discovered the folkloric Rhiannon in the seventies through a novel called Triad by Mary Bartlet Leader. The novel revolves around a woman named Branwen who is possessed by another wild woman named Rhiannon.
While there is mention of the Welsh legend of Rhiannon in the novel, the characters in the story bear little resemblance to their original Welsh namesakes as both Rhiannon and Branwen are major female characters in the medieval Welsh prose tales of the Mabinogion. This was a fact that Nicks found most intriguing, as she had written the song without the knowledge of the Welsh folklore but found so much of it applicable to her own musings.
After writing the song, Nicks even began work on a larger Rhiannon project based on the Welsh Goddess, writing some songs in anticipation of its completion. There are several “Rhiannon Songs” from this unfinished project including ‘Stay Away’ and ‘Maker of Birds.’ In fact, Nicks wrote the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Angel’ based on the Rhiannon story but we are yet to see any larger Rhiannon project.
With such an intrinsic connection to both the song and now the subject matter, it seems fitting that we should take a look back at Nicks’ performance of her song. It sees Nicks’ at her beguiling best, encapsulating the titular character with every breath and shining note.
It’s a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the track and Nick’s commandment of both her own instrument and the use of the space between her lyrics show that she was always destined to be a double Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The singer has always been highly regarded as a musical powerhouse and it was here that the singer made her claim.
Listen below to Stevie Nicks’ isolated vocal performance of Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 iconic track ‘Rhiannon’.