Why ‘Edge Of Seventeen’ Is A Timeless Anthem
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: NEW HAVEN Photo of Stevie NICKS and FLEETWOOD MAC, Stevie Nicks in the recording studio (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)
Stevie Nicks was still with Fleetwood Mac when she successfully launched a solo career. Her debut solo studio album, Bella Donna, was a critical and commercial success. But more than the numbers, it showcased Nicks’ musical genius. One of the key features of the record was the third single, Edge of Seventeen.
The title came from a conversation she had with Tom Petty’s wife, Jane. Jane recalled that she met her future husband “at the age of seventeen”. However, her accent made it sound like “edge of seventeen”. Originally, Nicks planned to write about the couple’s meeting, but she decided on a different theme following the death of her uncle Jonathan and the murder of John Lennon.
“That was a very scary and sad moment for all of us in the rock ‘n’ roll business,” Nicks recalled Lennon’s assassination in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “It scared us all to death that some idiot could be so deranged that he would wait outside your apartment building, never having known you, and shoot you dead.”
“So the white dove was John Lennon, and peace,” she added.
“The line ‘and the days go by like a strand in the wind’, that’s how fast those days were going by during my uncle’s illness,” she explained to Rolling Stone in 1981. “He was home and my aunt had some music softly playing and it was a perfect place for the spirit to go away.”
However, even if she wrote this while processing her grief, she incorporated a grittiness and defiance that only served to take the song to the next level. With its distinctive 16th note guitar riff played by Waddy Wachtel, there’s no mistaking that this was a song that would go on to achieve classic status. And it did. Not only did it age fairly well, it also became more popular even with the younger generation. From Destiny’s Child to Miley Cyrus, Edge of Seventeen is undoubtedly one of Nicks’ most enduring compositions.
It’s an anthem that affects listeners in different ways, which is why it continues to appeal even today’s teenagers. It has rock ‘n roll, reflects raw emotion, and perfectly captures Nicks at her creative peak.