When Stevie Nicks wrote “Landslide,” it was unlikely she knew it would become one of the most significant songs of her entire career. Released in 1975 after she had joined Fleetwood Mac, the song would go on to top several music charts, including ranking in the top 200 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Nicks explained the meaning behind the emotional song and how it came to be written.
Before Fleetwood Mac, Nicks worked multiple jobs
Before they became members of Fleetwood Mac, helping the band find its sense of identity and direction, both Buckingham and Nicks tried their hand at finding success in music. In 1973, they were in a relationship with one another while they were members of the folk-rock duo called Buckingham Nicks. They had signed a record deal with Polydor Records, though not much would come from this for the two.
After releasing their eponymous debut album that same year, their efforts proved futile as it garnered very little commercial success. The duo ended up getting dropped by the record label, but they didn’t lose hope. They released a second record that also saw low sales, and to supplement their income, Nicks worked several jobs.
Reflecting on that time of her life, Nicks later explained that she was 27 years old when she wrote “Landslide,” and that she “did already feel old in a lot of ways. I’d been working as a waitress and a cleaning lady for years. I was tired.” All the while, she never stopped writing songs and creating music.
The song came to her while in Aspen
While Nicks worked various jobs, Buckingham had been asked to join the Everly Brothers to play guitar with them while they toured. The tour took them to Aspen, Colorado, where Buckingham was joined by his then-girlfriend Nicks.
She explained that the song came to her while she was staring out at the mountains from the window. This is evident given the lyrics that say, “And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills / ‘Til the landslide brought me down.” From start to finish, Nicks said it only took her about five minutes to write the song. The words just flowed from her.
‘Landslide’ has many sources of inspiration
When describing the meaning behind the song, Nicks said that it came from several places. At its roots, it describes the changes and challenges of life. A more specific inspiration came from the uncertainty of her career at the time. Pursuing music was difficult, and having to pick up multiple jobs was having an effect on her.
A larger source of inspiration was her tumultuous relationship with Buckingham at the time. The different romances within the band would become the basis of a lot of smash hits from Fleetwood Mac, but even before these two joined the band their relationship was deteriorating. Nicks also said that the lyrics speak to her relationship with her business-executive father as well.
In 1975, Buckingham was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, agreeing on the condition that they take him and Nicks as a package deal. “Landslide” was released on their second titular album, and Nicks is the only one credited on the song. Besides some overdubs and a solo by Buckingham on the studio version, the song is entirely her own, and it gives an emotional look into who she was at the time.