Edge of Seventeen

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"Edge of Seventeen"
Single by Stevie Nicks
from the album Bella Donna
B-side "Edge of Seventeen" (live edit)
Released February 5, 1982
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1981
Genre Hard rock
Length 4:10 (single edit)
5:28 (LP version)
Label Modern Records
Writer(s) Stevie Nicks
Producer(s) Jimmy Iovine
Stevie Nicks singles chronology
"Leather and Lace"
"Edge of Seventeen"
"After the Glitter Fades"

"Edge of Seventeen" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks. It was the third single from her 1981 solo debut album, Bella Donna.

Written by Nicks to express the grief resulting from the death of her uncle Jonathan and the murder of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980, the song features a distinctive, chugging 16th-note guitar riff, and a simple chord structure typical of Nicks' songs.

Released as the third single from Bella Donna in early 1982, it barely missed out on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 making #11 and the live version on the B-side reached #26 on Billboard '​s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The album track had previously made the Top 5 of Billboard '​s Mainstream Rock chart in 1981, peaking at number four. Despite not reaching the top ten, it became one of Nicks' most enduring and recognizable songs, and has been covered by many artists. The distinctive riff was sampled by Destiny's Child in their 2001 song "Bootylicious", with Nicks making a cameo appearance in the music video playing a guitar.[1]


According to Nicks, the title came from a conversation she had with Tom Petty's first wife, Jane, about the couple's first meeting. Jane said they met "at the age of seventeen", but her strong Southern accent made it sound like "edge of seventeen" to Nicks. The singer liked the sound of the phrase so much that she told Jane she would write a song for it and give her credit for the inspiration.[2]

Although Nicks had originally planned to use the title for a song about Tom and Jane Petty,[3] the deaths of both her uncle Jonathan and John Lennon during the same week of December 1980 inspired a new song for which Nicks used the title. Nicks's producer and friend, Jimmy Iovine, was a close friend of Lennon, and Nicks felt helpless to comfort him. Soon after, she flew home to Phoenix, Arizona, to be with her uncle Jonathan, who was dying of cancer. She remained with her uncle and his family until his death.[4]


Throughout the song a distinctive 16th note guitar riff is played by Waddy Wachtel, progressing through C, D, and E-minor chords. During the bridge, the chords alternate twice between E-minor and C. Wachtel claimed[5] that The Police's "Bring on the Night" was the inspiration for the riff. This claim is further backed up in Andy Summers memoir One Train Later when he states that after a show in L.A. in 1981 Stevie Nicks asked to meet him.[citation needed]

As is typical of Nicks' songs, the lyrics are highly symbolic. Nicks has said that the white-winged dove represents the spirit leaving the body on death, and some of the verses capture her experience of the days leading up to her uncle Jonathan's death.[6]

The part in the song that has Nicks and her back-up singers singing "ooohh baby ooohh" is meant to sound like a dove singing, similar to an owl "whoooing".[citation needed]

Perhaps appropriate for a song named for a mondegreen, "Edge of Seventeen" has been cited frequently as a source of misheard lyrics since its release. The line "Just like a white-winged dove" is sometimes misheard as "Just like a one-winged dove", "just like the one we know," "just like the world we know", "just like the wild wind does sings a song", or "just like the ones we love".[7][8][9][10][11]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1981-1982) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[12] 11
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 11
U.S. Billboard Top Rock Tracks 4


  1. ^ Video on YouTube
  2. ^ "Old Trivia Questions". Retrieved 2007-09-11. She was telling me about Tom, about when she met him, and she has an incredible Southern accent...and she said that she met him at the age of seventeen, but I thought she said 'edge,' and she said 'no... age' and I said, 'Jane, forget it, it's got to be "edge." The "Edge of Seventeen" is perfect. I'm gonna write a song, ok? And I'm gonna give you credit.' She didn't believe me, you know? She couldn't believe it when it came out on the album. 
  3. ^ "Stevie Nicks on Edge of 17". So it started out about Tom and Jane basically, who I have no idea what they were at 17, but I made it up. And, uh it went into being written about [her Uncle Jonathan and John Lennon]. 
  4. ^ "The Sun". Jimmy was absolutely best friends with John Lennon," she says. "So when that happened, a hush came over the house that was so overwhelming that there was nothing that I could do to help. There was nothing I could say, there was no way I could comfort him." Unable to help, Nicks flew home to Phoenix. "I went straight over to my uncle's house, and my uncle died that day. He died right there with me holding his hand, just me and my cousin, who's a little younger than me, sitting there on the bed and on the floor next to him. 
  5. ^ Simons, David. "Waddy Wachtel". Musician, (April 1999), "Waddy Wachtel" by David Simons. New Blue Letter Archives. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Rolling Stone". 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, and it was so upsetting to me. The part that says 'I went today... maybe I will go again... tomorrow' refers to seeing him the day before he died. He was home and my aunt had some music softly playing, and it was a perfect place for the spirit to go away. The white-winged dove in the song is a spirit that is leaving a body, and I felt a great loss at how both Johns were taken. 'I hear the call of the nightbird singing..... come away ... come away....' 
  7. ^ The Archive of Misheard Lyrics :: Stevie Nicks - Edge Of Seventeen
  8. ^ "Just like the one we know misheard lyric by Stevie Nicks". Kissthisguy.com. Humor Box Entertainment. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Am I Right - Misheard Lyrics, Edge Of Seventeen
  10. ^ Bathroom On the Right: Stevie Nicks
  11. ^ Edwards, Gavin (November 5, 1997). When a Man Loves a Walnut. Fireside Books. p. 66. ISBN 0-684-84567-9. 
  12. ^ Canadian peak

External links[edit]