in Obsessong

It’s become obvious to me that apart from our weekly podcasts, things have grown a little stale around here at Mildly Pleased.  And since I’m in a transitional point in my life where I have a bunch of time on my hands (most people call it being woefully unemployed), I figured I’d shake things up a bit with a new feature.  Now I’m sure we’ve all had those moments in our lives where a certain song becomes intertwined with our very existence, so much so that you develop this obsession over it, and thus slowly start to form an intense personal relationship with said song.  I call these “obsessongs”, which of course is a dumb title, but so are most things when you think about it.  Anyways, today’s song comes from ‘70s pop-rock superstars, Fleetwood Mac.

Song: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
Album: Fleetwood Mac
Year: 1975
Written By: Stevie Nicks

My Relationship With This Song

“Landslide” was always one of those songs that I had heard and was casually aware of, but never truly listened to until earlier this year.  As utterly lame as it is, what brought on this more pronounced awareness of “Landslide” was a sweet little Budweiser commercial, which may or may not feature some disturbing sexual undertones.  I know a beer commercial isn’t exactly the most apt way for such a delicately beautiful song to work it’s way into your heart, but I guess there was just something about that dude and his horse.

This led me to go through somewhat of a Fleetwood Mac phase, as I spent quite a bit of time listening to their 1975 self-titled album as well as a return to their mega-blockbuster release Rumours.  I hadn’t given Rumours a good listen in a while, and for good reason: I’ve spent a lot of time in grocery stores (as a worker and customer), and I’m pretty sure every grocery store in the country is in on some conspiracy to make everyone as sick of the songs on Rumours as our parents were when they were in college in the late ‘70s.

But “Landslide” is different. I’m sure I’d heard it countless times in various Safeways and Walgreens over the course of my life, but it never really left an impact on me in the way that the songs on Rumours had.  I suppose it’s because on first listen it feels like a pretty weightless song.  But as I spent more and more time with “Landslide”, it became apparent that the sentiments behind this song are about as emotionally heavy as a ton of bricks made of solidified human tears.

And then came my last day of work just one week ago, at a job that I couldn’t have been happier to be quitting.  I had just said all my goodbyes to the fellas that I’d spent a good year or so working alongside, and then I got in my car, turned on the radio, and what do I hear?  Fuckin’ “Landslide”.  A song that almost seemed tailor-made for a transitional life-changing moment like this particular transitional life-changing moment.  So at this point it almost felt like this song was stalking me, like some coked-up high school guidance counselor that keeps telling you, “Everything’s gonna be alright”.

Reasons Why I Love This Song

That Absolutely Heartbreaking Chorus:  “I’ve been afraid of changing, ‘cause I’ve built my life around you. / But time makes you bolder.  Even children get older, and I’m getting older too.”  Holy shit, man.  How many radio-friendly pop groups have choruses to their songs that are that indicative of the entire plight of human existence?  I can’t think of many that aren’t named The Beatles.  And the thing I love about it is how utterly blunt and on-the-nose those lyrics are, and without feeling obvious or cliché.  Stevie Nicks seems like she usually tends to be pretty obtuse with her lyrics, and I’m glad she keeps the cryptic expressions to a minimum in this song.  I mean I don’t have any idea what the fuck “Gold Dust Woman” is about, but I know exactly what Miss Nicks is singing about in this song, and I think that’s why “Landslide” has a universality to it.

The cleanliness of that (those) acoustic guitar(s):  I don’t like many guitar parts that would be described as “clean”, but for some reason I’m able to easily forgive the ‘70s studio sheen of that guitar sound.  For a while, I think I just assumed that that was a 12-string acoustic, since it feels like there’s a fuller sound going on there.  Of course any idiot could tell you that it’s just two guitars playing roughly the same part, but perhaps I was too distracted by the sound of the inevitable passage of time in the face our own collective futility towards recapturing our own wasted youths.  You know, that old yarn.

Lindsey Buckingham’s Guitar Solo:  And it’s not so much a guitar solo as it is an extended whimper.  It’s hard to really imagine what was going through Buckingham’s head when he laid down this guitar part, considering the song is so obviously about him (Buckingham and Nicks had been dating since they were in high school).  So I can’t help but feel like that tender little guitar solo is some sort of musical manifestation of the man’s sorrow in response to this doomed romance.  Or he just thought it sounded kinda cool.  Either way works for me.

How Stevie Nicks sings “Take my love.  Take it down.”:  See, there’s one of those obtuse Stevie Nicks lyrics I was talking about.  “Take my love.  Take it down.” is one of those bullshit pop song lyrics that means literally nothing, and yet because of everything surrounding it, it seems downright profound.  Especially when you notice the way Nicks uses it for dramatic effect.  When she sings that line the first time, it feels fairly assured, like she’s confident that the confessional nature of this song will bring her some sort of piece of mind.  And yet, by the time she sings this line again after the second chorus, it’s much more muted.  Almost bordering on a faint whisper, as if she realized she’s said too much.

This Ain’t A Game, Yo: I think a big reason why this song remains so potent despite it’s laid back nature, is because this shit is for real.  It’s not uncommon for musicians to sing about the things they’re going through in their personal lives.  But how often do you see them singing about the guy playing guitar just a few feet away?  Not often, and I think that romantic tension just adds another layer to the emotional heft of this song.

Why I Will Continue To Love This Song

Because it’s about getting old, and who can’t relate to that?  Hell, I’m a measly 24 years old, and I already connect with this song in the way that millions of baby-boomers already have.  So I can’t even imagine what my relationship with this song will be once I’ve reached the elite status of being considered “old balls”.  And yet it’s not merely an “I’m getting too old for this shit” type of song.  I mean sure, I could easily imagine Roger Murtaug weeping into a glass of scotch as he listens to “Landslide” for the tenth time.  But most of all, it’s a song about hope.

When Stevie Nicks sings, “I’ve been afraid of changing, ‘cause I’ve built my life around you”, it takes on a greater meaning because the “you” doesn’t necessarily have to be about a lover.  The “you” could be a job, or a city, or even a state of mind, because we’ve all had those things bog us down at one point or another.  It’s just a matter of letting those things go, and learning to be just a little bit bolder.

[box type=”note”]Note: I don’t know how often I’m going to do these, since this took a lot more time (and introspection) than I thought it would.  But perhaps I’ll try to make my next “obsessong” a little more brief by choosing a song that doesn’t have so much god damn emotional baggage.[/box]

  1. You sure wrote the hell out of that song. I like the idea of the feature, I might try one of these myself one day.

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