The Fleetwood Mac song ‘Sara’ is incontestably the most personal track that Stevie Nicks has ever written. The Tusk number captures the moment that the singer was left heartbroken and entirely bereft by her the infidelity of her bandmate Mick Fleetwood.
Writing a song about your lover deserting you for somebody else will always be a difficult task, a profoundly personal release of personal turmoil and one filled with raw emotion. What made Nicks’ task infinitely more difficult was that the person who had wronged her was somebody she was forced to spend time with daily. To make things even worse, he needed to assist her creativity. Rather than being overawed by the challenge at hand, Stevie Nicks had no qualms about letting Mick Fleetwood know precisely how his behaviour made her feel, and ‘Sara’ remains one of the greatest tracks she has ever penned.
Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood was never a conventional one. While the relationship itself was an affair, the drummer broke a special bond the two enjoyed, an incident which left her feeling utterly betrayed. The relationship between the pair arrived when the Fleetwood Mac singer found herself painfully lonely despite dating Don Henley. While on the surface they may have appeared as the perfect rock couple, their busy schedules meant that, actually, they weren’t much of a couple at all. The situation led to Nicks starting a cocaine-fuelled affair with her bandmate. She later opened up to Oprah about the “doomed” experience, saying they were the “last two people at a party,” and that “it was a doomed thing [that] caused pain for everybody”.
Speculation around the meaning of the song has been spreading like wildfire for decades, and Don Henley even offered his thoughts on what inspired Nicks to write ‘Sara‘. When the couple were together in the late 1970s, Nicks fell pregnant. However, as they both spent their lives primarily on tour in different corners of the globe, she decided to abort the child because the timing simply wasn’t right. Henley told GQ in 1991: “I believe to the best of my knowledge she became pregnant by me. And she named the kid Sara, and she had an abortion and then wrote the song of the same name to the spirit of the aborted baby. I was building my house at the time, and there’s a line in the song that says ‘And when you build your house, call me.'”
Nicks was rightly furious about Henley’s decision to speak so openly and blasé about such a sensitive topic. Although Henley’s comments do have a degree of truth to them – according to the woman herself – Mick was the central muse. “Sara was pretty much about Mick,” Nicks told MTV in 1988. “So, he was the ‘great dark wing’. And, ah, it was about everything that was going on at that particular time, too, but he was the reason for the beginning of it.
“I remember the night I wrote it,” she later said on The Tommy Vance Show in 1994. “I sat up with a very good friend of mine whose name is Sara, who was married to Mick Fleetwood. She likes to think it’s completely about her, but it’s really not completely about her. It’s about me, about her, about Mick, about Fleetwood Mac. It’s about all of us at that point.”
Adding: “There’s little bits about each one of us in that song and when it had all the other verses it really covered a vast bunch of people. Sara was the kind of song you could fall in love with, because I fell in love with it.”
Stevie Nicks would be the first to admit that her short-lived relationship with Mick Fleetwood was built on sand. Their time together was the result of a close friendship coupled with crippling loneliness rather than love or lust. Fleetwood would eventually go on to marry Sara Recor in 1988, and the couple would spend seven years married before divorcing.
‘Sara’ is a prime example of the incestuous life that Fleetwood Mac found themselves locked into at the height of their fame. It’s concrete proof as to why you should avoid mixing work with pleasure, even if it does result in spectacularly beautiful music and timeless records.