An Anthem of Badassery | “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks

An+Anthem+of+Badassery+%7C++%22Edge+of+Seventeen%22+by+Stevie+Nicks

Anthony Cruz, Writer/Volunteer

When one talks about the 80s impactful (no pun intended) repertoire of trends, culture, and just downright amazing music, there is always one woman who is mentioned—Stevie Nicks.

 Nicks remains one of the pillars of female rock, without question. Her anthemic track, “Edge of Seventeen,” from her multi-platinum debut album, Bella Donna, is a staple in any classic rock playlist. 

 

 

“Edge of Seventeen” marks Nicks’ true debut into her long-lasting solo career. Having already reached great heights with her band, Fleetwood Mac, there was a high demand for Nicks’ own solo music. She would eventually assume this much needed role with absolute badassery. The song reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #11. Even without cracking the Top 10, the track was still nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1982. 

The track is carried by a frantic 16th-note guitar riff played by Waddy Wachtel with a piano accompaniment. This combined with Nicks’ instantly recognizable, rasp-infused vocals are captivating to any listener. 

The name of the track came about in an intriguing manner. Nicks talks about a conversation she had with Tom Petty’s wife, Jane Benyo: 

 

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?” 

 

Nicks has also mentioned how the death of her uncle and the murder of John Lennon in 1980 were also major influences on the lyrical content. Themes of grief, sadness and perseverance are touched on throughout the track.

Nicks’ clever lyricism can be heard in the ear-worm of a chorus:

 

Just like the white winged dove/

Sings a song/

Sounds like she’s singin’/

Whoo, baby, whoo, whoo/

Said, whoo

 

At first listen, the meaning behind these lyrics is not exactly clear. However, Nicks has stated how the white-winged dove represents the spirit leaving the body after death. Some of the verses capture her experience of the days leading up to her uncle Jonathan’s death, while the world was still reeling from the loss of John Lennon. 

Nicks strongly influenced the following generations. Several songs sample the iconic guitar riff from the track, including Destiny’s Child “Bootylicious,” released in 2001. Miley Cyrus has also taken influence from the rock star, even joining up with Nicks on her track “Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix)” from her 2020 album, Plastic Hearts.