Wednesday, August 13, 2008


[previous posts in this series of close readings of selections from Fleetwood Mac's TUSK - "Over and Over," "Save Me a Place," "Sara", "What Makes You Think You're The One," "Storms," "Sisters of the Moon"]


fleetwood mac - angel

"Angel" follows "Sisters of the Moon" (though I think maybe it's the start of the 2nd LP on the vinyl version?) and, for the first minute or so, it seems like the jaunty, country-rock, and kind of terrible polar opposite of the dark, witchily awesome post-punk of "Sisters" - as I believe Holly has remarked in the past, the cheesy sound of those first few bars can kind of keep you from taking this song seriously at first

yet! it is really fucking serious, as Stevie herself says in the video at the end of this post. the song inexorably, and indeed with painful, profound beauty, is drawn back to the same themes of nihilism and self-destruction as "Sisters," but instead of occult, Lynchian imagery, Stevie's verses anchor us in the the all-too-recognizable world of everyday heartbreak and loss, looking back to an irretrievable past -

sometimes the most beautiful thing
the most innocent thing
and many of those dreams
pass us by

keep passing me by

the second verse in particular is utterly devastating, familiar, and real -

I still look up
when you walk in the room
I've the same wide eyes
now they tell the story
I try not to reach out
when you turn around to say hello
and we both pretend
I'm no great pretender

yet, instead of this memory of love and innocence fading away, into the past, Stevie, hauntingly beautifully and basically crypto-suicidally wills herself into a ghostly future in the chorus:

so I close my eyes softly,
'till I become that part of the wind
that we all long for sometime

and to those that I love
like a ghost through a fog
like a charmed hour and a haunted song
and the angel, angel of my dreams

the line about becoming "that part of the wind that we all long for sometime" just fucking floors me every time, and God knows that I thought of it often throughout the painful month of June, I don't know if I've ever heard anything so poetic and sad and true in my whole life -

and the titular Angel, looming, wordless in the fog, so much like Stevie's dark "Sister" at the top of the stairs in the previous song - and also sooo much like the Sister, the Ghost-Angel is revealed as Stevie's own doppelganger, "that girl was me... just like a ghost through the fog" etc. but while the Angel is ostensibly good, very good, an incarnation of the innocent and beautiful things in Stevie's life where the Sister was a manifestation of the darkness, it leads her to the same personal abyss, a transcendent nothingness, those fucking winds we've discussed in several contexts in this series.

and as elsewhere, the parallels to the Twin Peaks mythology are unmistakable - if the Sister lives in the Black Lodge, the Angel lives in the White Lodge, and, as shown by the appearance of Laura Palmer's literal angel in the Black Lodge at the end of Fire Walk With Me, the two places may be "one and the same." for more on the Stevie Nicks/Laura Palmer connection and a video of the insanely heartwrenching scene with Laura and her angel, please see my previous post, also titled "Sisters of the Moon"

this is the awesome and ultra-compelling contradiction (or non-contradiction) at the heart of Stevie Nicks' profound appeal - the sunny blonde California surfer girl with the beautiful voice and wild heart (and a hopeless attraction to some of the douchiest guys in rock history) is simultaneously the gothy, scorned hag, a kind of 'white witch' in the words of one Josh Cheon. this song and this footage of its recording from the awesome yet sadly brief Fleetwood Mac "Tusk" documentary really gets to the heart of the matter - the interview with Stevie early on where she describes the song's genesis is utterly priceless, hilarious and self-serious and true, and the unearthly passion, crooked teeth, and crazy outfit she's wearing when she sings "like a ghost through the fog" makes for kind of an ultimate Stevie-y Stevie moment -

"I wanted to write a rock and roll song, so it started out being much sillier than it came out. It didn't end up being silly at all. It ended up being very serious."