The take chosen for release on the 1977 Rumours album was reportedly recorded at 4 a.m., after a long night of attempts in the studio. Just before and during that final take, Stevie Nicks had wrapped her head (though not mouth) with a black scarf, veiling her senses and tapping genuine memories and emotions.
On the 2004 2-disc special edition release of Rumours, two demos of "Gold Dust Woman" are included, one of which features vocal melody and lyrics in its coda which would later be developed into the stand-alone single "If You Ever Did Believe" in 1997. Nicks recorded this with close friend Sheryl Crow as part of the early sessions for her 2001 Trouble in Shangri-La album, but the track was chosen as the theme song for the 1998 Warner Bros.Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock vehicle Practical Magic. To date, the track has only been available on the film soundtrack album.
When asked about the song in an interview with Courtney Love for Spin in October 1997, Nicks said:
You know what, Courtney? I don't really know what "Gold Dust Woman" is about. I know there was cocaine there and that I fancied it gold dust, somehow. I'm going to have to go back to my journals and see if I can pull something out about "Gold Dust Woman". Because I don't really know. It's weird that I'm not quite sure. It can't be all about cocaine.
In an interview for VH1's Classic Album series, Nicks offered further insight into the song's meaning:
"Gold Dust Woman" was my kind of symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship, doing a lot of drugs, and trying to make it. Trying to live. Trying to get through it.
The song was covered live in 2009 by Grace Potter and The Nocturnals as they opened for Gov't Mule, with occasional performances on the same tour by Gov't Mule with Grace Potter guesting on lead vocals. Grace Potter was a special guest with Allman Brothers in March 2012 at the Beacon theater NYC, where she shared vocals with Warren Haynes on "Gold Dust Woman".
Halestorm covered the song in their EP, ReAniMate 2.0.