Fleetwood Mac: “Gold Dust Woman”

It’s the fifth day of Fleetwood Mac Week, and today’s selection is “Gold Dust Woman“, written and performed by Stevie Nicks. Like most of my selections, it’s from 1997’s terrific “The Dance” performance, recorded before an audience in Burbank made into a live “greatest hits” album. Reader darrelle, in a comment on this site, said that watching Fleetwood Mac perform this song live “completely drew me in, and then it blew my mind.”

Wikipedia gives some background information:

The take chosen for release on the 1977 Rumours album was reportedly recorded at 4 a.m., after a long night of attempts in the studio. Just before and during that final take, Stevie Nicks had wrapped her head (though not mouth) with a black scarf, veiling her senses and tapping genuine memories and emotions. Many unusual instruments were used in the recording, including an electric harpsichord with a jet phaser, which was marked with tape so Mick Fleetwood could play the right notes. To accentuate Stevie’s vocals, Mick broke sheets of glass. “He was wearing goggles and coveralls — it was pretty funny. He just went mad, bashing glass with this big hammer. He tried to do it on cue, but it was difficult. Eventually, we said, ‘Just break the glass,’ and we fit it all in.”

Slant critic Barry Walsh described the song as finding Nicks “at her folky (not flaky) best with one of her most poignant character studies”.

When asked about the song in an interview with Courtney Love for Spin in October 1997, Nicks said:

“You know what, Courtney? I don’t really know what “Gold Dust Woman” is about. I know there was cocaine there and that I fancied it gold dust, somehow. I’m going to have to go back to my journals and see if I can pull something out about “Gold Dust Woman”. Because I don’t really know. It’s weird that I’m not quite sure. It can’t be all about cocaine.”

In an interview for VH1’s Classic Album series, Nicks offered further insight into the song’s meaning:

“‘Gold Dust Woman’ was my kind of symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship, doing a lot of drugs, and trying to make it. Trying to live. Trying to get through it.”

I couldn’t help but notice that Nicks and Buckingham were staring at each other through most of this song, and I don’t think that’s just to keep the music on track. They of course had a tumultuous romance that broke up before “Rumours” was issued, and Buckingham has said recently that their relationship is “still a work in progress.” You see more of this poignant behavior on “Landslide” on Thursday.

4 Comments

  1. Posted March 7, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    If anyone wants to see more of the onstage sparks between Buckingham and Nix, watch this:

  2. HaggisForBrains
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    At times in “Gold Dust Woman” you can almost see the atmosphere crackle between Stevie and Lindsey. The complex relationships within the group surely gave rise to some of the greatest music of the era. I’m loving this Fleetwood Mac Week.

  3. darrelle
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Rock on Ancient Queen . . .

    I’ve got no problems imagining a drug induced fugue being central to the creation of this song. When it gets down to it, it is an artist (or a group of artists) genuinely expressing strongly experienced emotions, out there at the edge of the envelope, and that also happens to sound good. I think that is the key to any art intended to move people who experience it.

    The studio version of this song is good, but this is one of those songs that I much prefer a couple of the live recordings, especially with video rather than just sound.

  4. frednotfaith2
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I love this song. Like A Day in the Life, one of the greatest closing tracks to a great album.


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