You know that dizzy feeling you get when you stare at a bright object (a slice of pizza, the sun, a beautiful boy) and then quickly look away? How you can still see its after-image shimmering there? That’s Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Stevie Nicks sings “I took my love, I took it down” as though her love were a picture that’s been hanging on her wall for so long, she hadn’t stopped to notice that it didn’t look the same anymore. To me, “Landslide” represents precisely that moment of clarity, when you find out that it isn’t just the décor that’s different; the entire view has drifted and receded. For a few scary breaths your perspective careens like a crane shot.
This song is about the uncertainty of life and love, a theme that always makes me want to cry, so when Stevie asks, “Can I handle the seasons of my liiiiiiiiiiife?” and drags that last word up and down the scales, I do. I cry! But there’s also a reassuring flintiness in her voice that I pick up on more nowadays. If the lyric “I’ve been afraid of changing” splits me right open, then “Time makes you bolder” puts me back together again—banged up, bruised, and misshapen, but for the most part, whole. The prettiness of the guitars helps.
As with all songs that make me cry, I worry that if I listen to this one too often all the magic will rub off and its comforting, predictably cathartic power will be lost forever. What if the song that never fails to make me cry, one day fails to make me cry?! How will I define myself then? Well, I’m learning that that is OK too. It’s not necessarily a sign that “Landslide” won’t mean as much to me. Only that I will have changed in spite of myself. Maybe it means the song won’t lose its power at all, but will in fact actually do its job, that is, help me face this hard little icicle of a truth: the “you” that I’ve built my life around is the old me.
I originally wrote this piece for a compilation on Strawberry Fields Whatever. It didn't make it into the final post but the writing of it was so easy that I’m content to leave it here as a reminder that the things we need sometimes do come crazy-easy. Not every word puts up a fight.