It’s hard to think of a band that had more expert songwriters within its ranks than Fleetwood Mac. While The Beatles could boast three stellar contributors to pop music, Fleetwood Mac had upwards of four high-class sonic constructors on the books, with Stevie Nicks acting as perhaps their most pleasing. The woman behind some of the band’s most cherished and widely beloved hits, Nicks has delivered a reem of songs that not only provide a universal sense of belonging but connect deeply and uniquely to her own personality.
Songs like ‘Sara’ and ‘Landslide’ offer up a vision of Nicks crafting her work with the utmost care, pouring her heart and soul onto the lyrics sheet and guiding the rest of the group into the groove. Elsewhere, songs like ‘Dreams’ showcase Nicks’ spontaneity. Written in “ten minutes” while escaping the hellish recording sessions of Fleetwood Mac in the comfort of Sly Stone’s bedroom, the track is arguably her finest work. In truth, Nicks has every kind of song in her locker.
Like most great writers, Nicks has a tune for every occasion, and while she may prefer to sing the ballads, dance to the rockers and find solace in the solemn moments of Fleetwood Mac’s set, there is one track that sees her searching for something simpler. ‘Gypsy’ remains one of the band’s most beloved songs and ranks highly among Stevie Nicks’ best, and it holds a special place in the singer’s heart.
When speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the track, Nicks opened up about the song’s inception and how it makes her feel: “Oh boy, I’ve never really spoken about this, so I get verklempt, and then I’ve got the story, and I start to screw it up. OK: In the old days, before Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey [Buckingham] and I had no money, so we had a king-size mattress, but we just had it on the floor. I had old vintage coverlets on it, and even though we had no money, it was still really pretty—Just that and a lamp on the floor, and that was it—there was a certain calmness about it.”
We all have those moments, don’t we? Where we feel like we can feel the ground beneath our feet and connected with our path. That’s a feeling Nicks continues to strive for: “To this day, when I’m feeling cluttered, I will take my mattress off of my beautiful bed, wherever that may be, and put it outside my bedroom, with a table and a little lamp.”
The song also notes some of the young Nicks’ heroes through a cryptic message: “That’s the words: ‘So I’m back to the velvet underground’—which is a clothing store in downtown San Francisco, where Janis Joplin got her clothes, and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, it was this little hole in the wall, amazing, beautiful stuff—’ back to the floor that I love, to a room with some lace and paper flowers, back to the gypsy that I was.'”
Released in 1982 when Fleetwood Mac were confirmed rock superstars, for Nicks, this song was about seeking the simpler times, the times before she was famous, before she was an icon, when she could shop to her heart’s content and end the evening on her mattress on the floor: “So that’s what ‘Gypsy’ means: it’s just a search for before this all happened.”