Edge of Seventeen
|"Edge of Seventeen"|
|Single by Stevie Nicks|
|from the album Bella Donna|
|B-side||"Edge of Seventeen" (Previously unreleased live version)|
|Length||5:28 (LP version)|
4:10 (Single edit)
|Stevie Nicks singles chronology|
"Edge of Seventeen" is a song by American singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks from her solo debut studio album Bella Donna (1981), released as the third single from Bella Donna on February 4, 1982. The song was 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 and features a distinctive, chugging 16th-note guitar riff, and a simple chord structure typical of Nicks' songs.
In the United States, "Edge of Seventeen" just missed out on the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number eleven. Despite not reaching the top ten, it became one of Nicks' most enduring and recognizable songs and has been covered by many artists, notably American actress and singer Lindsay Lohan on her second studio album A Little More Personal (Raw) (2005). The distinctive riff was sampled by American R&B trio Destiny's Child in their number-one song "Bootylicious" (2001), with Nicks making a cameo appearance in the "Bootylicious" music video playing a guitar.
Background and inspiration
According to Stevie 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.
Although Nicks had originally planned to use the title for a song about Tom and Jane Petty, the death of her uncle Jonathan and the death of John Lennon during the same week of December 1980 inspired a new song for which Nicks used the title. Nicks' producer and friend Jimmy Iovine was a close friend of Lennon, and Nicks felt helpless to comfort him. Soon after, Nicks 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.
Composition and lyrics
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 that The Police's "Bring on the Night" was the inspiration for the riff. This claim is backed up in Andy Summers memoir One Train Later when he states that Stevie Nicks asked to meet him after a 1981 show in Los Angeles. As is typical of Nicks' songs, the lyrics are highly symbolic. Nicks has said that the white winged dove shall represent 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. The part in the song that has Nicks and her back-up singers singing "ooh baby ooh" is meant to sound like a dove singing, similar to an owl "whooing".
Perhaps appropriately 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.
"Edge of Seventeen" peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks in April 1982. The live version on the B-side reached number 26 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. The original LP version had previously made the top five of Billboard's Top Tracks chart in 1981, peaking at number four. "Edge of Seventeen" also peaked at number 11 on the RPM singles chart in Canada.
The song was also covered on Season 9 of The Voice by Amanda Ayala and Shelby Brown. The single version of the song entered the Top 100 of the iTunes Rock Charts.
Formats and track listings
- US 7" vinyl single
- "Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)" – 4:10
- "Edge of Seventeen" (Previously unreleased live version) – 5:57
- Stevie Nicks – composition, lead vocals
- Jimmy Iovine – production
- Waddy Wachtel – guitar
- Bob Glaub – bass guitar
- Russ Kunkel – drums
- Bobbye Hall – percussion
- Benmont Tench – piano, organ
- Roy Bittan – piano
- Lori Perry – backing vocals
- Sharon Celani – backing vocals
|US Billboard Hot 100||11|
|US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)||4|
- Video on YouTube
- "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.
- "Stevie Nicks on 'Edge of Seventeen'".
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].
- "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.
- Simons, David (April 1999). "Waddy Wachtel". Musician. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- White, Timothy (September 3, 1981). "With Her New Solo Album, Fleetwood Mac's Good Fairy Tries to Balance Two Careers — and Two Personalities". 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 one-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....'
- "Just like the one we know misheard lyric by Stevie Nicks". Kissthisguy.com. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "Edge of Seventeen". Am I Right — Misheard Lyrics.
- "Stevie Nicks". Bathroom On the Right.[permanent dead link]
- Edwards, Gavin (November 5, 1997). When a Man Loves a Walnut. Fireside Books. p. 66. ISBN 0-684-84567-9.
- "Canadian peak". Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Stevie Nicks on "Edge of Seventeen" — Quotes by Nicks about the song, gathered from interviews throughout the years.