Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon‘s murder by Mark David Chapman. His death inspired a number of songs, including Elton John‘s “Empty Garden” and George Harrison‘s “All Those Years Ago.” But one of Stevie Nicks‘ best-known hits, 1981’s “Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White-Winged Dove),” was also inspired by Lennon’s death…at least partially.
“It was like he was the white-winged dove and he left,” Stevie says of John. “Y’know…one of the really great singer-songwriters in the biggest band in the world had died, and how unexpected and unacceptable that was and and also how scary that was.”
“That was frightening for all of us in this business,” she adds. “We all felt, if that can happen to him, it could sure as hell happen to any of us. So there was a fear thing that happened then and it scared everybody.”
“You know…why in the world does somebody do that?” she continues. “Jealousy, envy? Why would you want to take the life of somebody that we all cared about so much?”
Additionally, according to Stevie, the line in the song “the sea does not change” refers to the fact that she found out about Lennon’s death in Australia while looking out on the ocean, while the reference to “the night bird,” she says, “signified death, as opposed to the white-winged dove.”
But Stevie says the song was also about another famous rock star: Her friend Tom Petty. Specifically, she says, it was the lyric “He was no more than a baby then/Well he seemed broken-hearted/Something within him.”
“So that was really a song that kind of blended into two people for two different reasons,” Stevie says. “And I don’t really know or remember why.”
By Andrea Dresdale
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