You know that feeling of going through a break up with someone you truly love. That gut-wrenching feeling when you find out that the person you want to spend eternity with no longer feels the same way about you. Stevie Nicks the lead singer/songwriter for the band Fleetwood Mac knows that feeling and wrote the song “Dreams”. Fleetwood Mac is a British-American rock band, formed in London, England on July 1967. Stevie Nicks didn’t join the band until 1974 when the band moved to the United States. Music can be interpreted in different ways; many listeners will interpret the song as them losing a loved one such as their sister or father, etc. One of the most interesting interpretations that I have read was one person felt longing and departure from adolescence into adulthood. This song could give many different people different meaning to this song. To understand “Dreams” it’s good to look at the history behind it, the meaning, and how Nicks tied ethos, logos, and pathos into it.
“Dreams” was made and released with the album “Rumours” on February 4, 1977. The song was written by Stevie Nicks in Sly Stone’s studio next door from where her band was doing technical work. Sly Stone had a big, semicircular bed with red velvet all over the walls. Nicks sat on the bed with a keyboard in front of her and wrote the song in ten minutes. She went back into her studio and said “I’ve just written the most amazing song” then proceeded to play it in the recording booth, and everyone joined in.” Dreams” is a chill, simple song, and “Nicks’ musical settings reinforce the poetic content and effect of her lyrics. This includes the use of melodic-harmonic divorce, the avoidance of tonic as a vertical harmony and the temporal relationship between a vocal line and structural patterns in an accompaniment” (Hough, 40). For example, in the beginning of the song when Nicks sings “It’s only right to play the way you feel it, but listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness” the guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, the one she broke up with, makes a weeping sound with his guitar to show he is also sad about the break up. Another example is whenever Nicks sings “Like a heartbeat” the drums come in louder, just like your heartbeat. When the band recorded the song, they kept the vocals on the first take because each time Nicks tried to redo it, it never sounded as good as the original take. The audio engineer wished that Nicks could have topped the take because the drums in the background leaked through her mic when she sang softly. Because of the drums in the background the audio engineer had to ride it up more but you could still hear the snare in the song. Nicks wrote the song because everyone in the band at that time was going through a break up; “Christine and John McVie had split up, Mick Fleetwood was divorcing his wife, and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s relationship was on the rocks” (Rolling Stone, 1). This song was written from Nicks point of view on the break up. Buckingham responded to it by writing his own song called “Go Your Own Way” with his point of view of the breakup, which was placed on the same album as Nicks song.
That feeling of having your heart broken and about losing someone you were once in a relationship with was the meaning behind the song. If you go through the lyrics of the song you will find all the little references of Nicks and Buckingham’s relationship. For example, in the very first two-line Nicks wrote “Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom well, who am I to keep you down.” At that time Nicks was fed up with Buckingham constantly threatening to leave her and that was the main reason why she broke up with him. She saw no point in stringing him along anymore. Nicks makes another reference to Buckingham in the chorus of the song by saying “players only love you when their playing.” Although when someone reads that they first think of the slang word player, but Nicks referred to Lindsey Buckingham an instrument/music player. That he only loved her when they were on stage together, but outside of that he didn’t feel the same way towards her as she did for him. In the pre-chorus of the song Nicks wrote “in the stillness of remembering what you had and what you lost and what you had and what you lost.” Meaning that when the breakup finally sinks into your brain it starts to drive you a little crazy because it is reminding you of the person you had and lost. Her interpretation on the lyric “when the rain washes you clean, you’ll know” was interesting. Nicks meant that everything will look better in the future; that when you get through the process of a heart break you will see the break up from a different angel. The same meaning also goes with the next line of the song “now here I go again, I see the crystal vision.” Stating that when you look at it, it is not all one person’s fault, but that it “takes two to tango” and that you need to see that. One of the most significant lyrics that Nicks decided to name the song after is “it’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams.” Nicks wanted to get into Buckingham’s mind, know all about him, and make the relationship work, but she felt like it was one sided. Being in a relationship with Buckingham and having it be a healthy relationship is just a dream to her. She knows that both of their lives would be better if they were no longer in a relationship together.
“Dreams” appeals directly to pathos, a little bit to ethos, and logos. Pathos appeals to the emotions that a text will give you. “Dreams” can make a person feel a lot of emotions when listening to it; mostly feelings of sadness, sorrow, grief, or even a serene/peaceful feeling. Ethos appeals to the credibility/trustworthiness of the author(s); since Fleetwood Mac has been around for fifty-two years, they have created a name for themselves and have gained many fans that trust and like the messages they give their audience. Logos appeals to the logic/facts that the text gives. This song can teach the audience life lessons such as the lyric “when the rain washes you clean, you’ll know” because Nicks is saying that you are going to be okay, you will get through this and that although it may not seem like it now in the future you will see. The same goes for the lyric “now here I go again, I see the crystal vision.” Stating to look at things from a different angel on the situation.
“Dreams” is one of the most go to heart-break songs. The song is effective to its listeners of the pathos that Nicks brings to the song. How she tries to connect with her audience and have them feel what she is feeling. This song can be interpreted in many different ways and when I first heard it, I actually felt peaceful and would listen to it when I am driving at night. This song means something to a lot of people and brings many different emotions out of people.
“Fleetwood Mac.” Rolling Stone, no. 1223, Dec. 2014, p. 90. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=99518258&site=ehost-live.
Hough, Matthew T. “Elements of Style in Three Demo Recordings by Stevie Nicks.” Music Theory Online, vol. 21, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 1–13. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=102071683&site=ehost-live.
Nicks, Stevie. “Dreams by: Fleetwood Mac.” Genius. 2017. https://genius.com/Fleetwood-mac-dreams-lyrics