“Rhiannon,” Fleetwood Mac (1975)
I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that I get a Fleetwood Mac song or lyric buzzing around my head about once a week. I don’t even need a reason. I just like them. A lot. Even though Rumours came out the year I was born, I’d still put it in my top 20 albums of all time. Maybe even top 10. But this song, is not from that album, but from the self-titled Fleetwood Mac, released two years before when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band (and made them awesome). But there are four specific reasons this song is in my head today:
1) I came out of my bedroom last night, and almost didn’t see my grey cat lurking in the shadows. Then he streaked away, a shady blur in the black hallway. I thought of my favourite line from this song: “She is like a cat in the dark, and then she is the darkness.”
2) I recently watched Sound City, an outstanding documentary in its own right, but extra good if you’re a rock geek. Or a Foo Fighters/Dave Grohl fan. And I am surely both of those things. The film is about the legendary Sound City recording studio in Los Angeles. Nicks and Buckingham both appear in the doc and talk about how they met Mick Fleetwood at the studio, and how coming together to form a five-piece band (with Christine McVie and John McVie) happened at that very studio. The songwriting, and recording of that 1975 album unfurled magically, like one of Stevie’s twirling shawls. She wrote this song, and it’s got that mystical, white witch back-story in the lyrics. But what I love about it is her voice, which is so weird and fantastic. And Buckingham’s guitar playing, which is so groovy and cool on the recording, but takes on this crazy, chaotic and passionate quality when they do the song live. Not that I’ve seen them live, but I spend too much time watching old performance videos of the bands I dig.
3) The third reason it’s embedded in my brain today is because I’ve been catching up on American Horror Story: Coven. Of course a show about witches, created by Ryan Murphy (who had a whole episode devoted to Fleetwood Mac on his other show Glee), would have a reference – or a whole bunch of references – to Stevie Nicks. She performs this song, as herself, on one of the episodes. Hate to say it, but I don’t love her version on the show, but I still love this song. And because of the show, “Rhiannon” is getting some love from people whose parents are probably my age.
4) The last reason is that I recently met a little girl whose name is Rhiannon. Her mom actually named her after this song. Pretty cool. She was a sweet kid, and I am glad, because previous to this the only other person I had met with this name was a nutty and slightly threatening woman I worked with many years ago. I think she had the potential be like a cat in the dark, and the darkness, and not in a good way. Perhaps she just needed to chill and listen to some of Buckingham’s seductive guitar riffs.