Urban Myths Debunked: Landslide

Welcome to a new feature on the site that aims to dispel commonly-held and erroneous bits of folklore that attach themselves to rock music like so many ticks on a dog’s head. You told the dog not to go to the place where the ticks are, but you know what they say about dogs: They don’t understand you when you say stuff to them.

Some rumors are persistent and stick with an artist for their entire career. For example, a lot of people think Marilyn Manson actually was Paul from The Wonder Years. Some folks really think that you can hear a woman getting murdered near the recording studio in the Ohio Players classic “Love Rollercoaster.” Don’t even get me started on the growing underground movement asserting that Mick Jagger is actually twelve different people.


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As a fan of truth, generally, I thought I’d focus on one myth at a time so as to allow for maximum clarity. Tonight (it’s always night where I am) we’ll be discussing the Fleetwood Mac song, “Landslide.” Let’s get something out of the way immediately:

No, this song is not about a human woman falling in love with a mountain. 

I can see why you would think that. After all, if you’re unfamiliar with the context in which this song was written and are unaware of the intense relationship-themed drama operating within Fleetwood Mac, you might think that Stevie Nicks simply fell in love with an enormous, pretty mountain, the way one does. It’s ill-advised, but show me one case of young love that isn’t. In any event, a relationship with a massive landform is doomed to be-one sided. For one thing, it’s not as if the mountain can pack up and change locations. Wherever you meet the mountain, that’s kind of where you’re ending up. One party is almost destined to feel as though they’re putting all the effort into this relationship while the other party just sits there like a bunch of very large rocks (which is essentially what a mountain is. Rocks are portable mountains. Think about it). Stevie alludes to this when she sings “I’ve been afraid of changing/’Cause I’ve built my life around you,” she’s quite literally talking about building a house at  the foot of the mountain you are in love with and trying to make it work. But it doesn’t work. People change. Mountains don’t. Well, they do, but they might erode a little bit over the course of a thousand years.

Again, this is what I thought the song was about until someone explained it to me. Turns out that the landslide is a metaphor for life being uncontrollable and unpredictable. A landslide not only causes immediate disruption during the violent event itself, it changes the terrain in its wake. Former landmarks are buried and hidden ones are revealed as the area becomes a brand new place. “Landslide” is a song about finally letting go of a partnership that has run its course; the cataclysmic end overturns the earth, and both parties are suddenly  thrust into an alien world where they need to figure out who they are outside of the context of each other. It’s a pretty good idea for a song. Much better than a girl falling in love with a mountain. Seriously. How could you believe that? You can be pretty dumb sometimes.

Also, Happy Birthday to Stevie Nicks, who turned 69 years old this past May 26th. May she have all the scarves she can handle.

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