Stories Behind The Songs: Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen


You know when you're listening to someone speak, and perhaps they have a heavy acccent, or perhaps your own ears are just awful, and as a result, you completely mishear what they say? It happens a lot with lyrics too, of course; we all have that one song we sang wrong for years on end before finally, in a very embarrassing moment, we learn what the true words are. Well, that's exactly how this song's title came about.


Whilst talking to Tom Petty's then wife, Jane, she was told that Tom and Jane had met at the "age of seventeen". However, Jane had a very thick Southern accent, which led to Nicks hearing the word "edge" in place of "age". Though she was quickly corrected, Nicks adored the phrase and decided to use it for a song - specifically, a song about Tom and Jane, to whom she would award credit for the inspiration.


Unfortunately for Nicks, December 1980 then happened. John Lennon, a close friend of her then partner Jimmy Iovine, was famously murdered, and soon after her uncle Jonathan died of cancer. The title of the song was retained, but the subject was changed drastically, and the lyrics heavily altered. Many of the verses reference the emotions that preceded her uncle's death, and the iconic "white-winged dove" is symbolic of the spirit leaving the physical body upon death.


After its release, 'Edge of Seventeen' quickly became Nicks' signature song, and though it wouldn't break the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, it nonetheless became one of classic rock's most iconic songs. Proving that she didn't need Lindsey Buckingham or Fleetwood Mac to rock the house down, this single off of her debut solo album Bella Donna established Nicks as one of rock's leading ladies, with the album itself hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 and achieving platinum status within three months. It then spent three consecutive years on the Billboard 200, a remarkable feat.


Despite the morbid inspiration for the lyrics, it is one of those songs that makes you feel powerful, inspired and on top of the world. A stadium-sized rock anthem, its simplicity allows anyone to connect with it, and the use of the rock cheat code that is simply the C-D-E progression works wonders here. Fun fact: the memorable guitar riff was inspired by The Police's 'Bring On the Night', something which becomes rather evident when you hear both songs back to back.


It was Stevie Nicks' birthday recently and it was brilliant to see her trend on Twitter for this reason, with thousands of people wishing her a happy birthday nearly forty years after Bella Donna's release. Nicks has remained successful throughout the decades and her legacy continues to grow to this day, working with the likes of Harry Styles. She's never stopped, never rested on her laurels; Nicks is a powerhouse.


It's fitting, then, that her anthem is a perfect embodiment of that. A song that makes you want to sing it from the heavens, and indeed is about getting to them, 'Edge of Seventeen' is anthemic, iconic and downright amazing. Stevie Nicks: she don't need no man.