If you wish to make the case for Stevie Nicks as the strongest American rock singer of the Seventies, right here’s your Exhibit A. Behold: This insane clip of Fleetwood Mac doing “Rhiannon” on The Midnight Special, 1976. It’s the absolute peak of Stevie-dom. Here are 17 explanation why this efficiency proves Stevie is just the coolest factor in the universe.
1. Stevie’s opening phrases: “This is a song about an old Welsh witch.” Translation: This “Rhiannon” is a very completely different beast from the clean studio model you’ve heard 1,000,000 occasions. This model is the epic.
2. Stevie’s hair. Oh, the hair. Beyond feathered. The feathers have feathers.
3. Keep in thoughts, the viewers has no concept who Stevie Nicks is. She and Lindsey simply joined Fleetwood Mac final 12 months. These folks have heard “Rhiannon” on the radio, however they don’t know Stevie’s title. They’ve by no means seen her rock. Rumours doesn’t exist but. They’re in all probability considering, “Foxy lady. I think she just said this song is about a sandwich?” They don’t know what they’re in for.
4. Sweet kimono, Lindsey. Did Stevie allow you to tie that sash your self?
5. The manner she wails the line, “You cry, but she’s gone.” So a lot hungrier and rawer than the studio model. Stevie is just not in mellow mode tonight. She’s the new lady in a long-running band, however she’s right here to blow all that historical past away. She retains pushing the music more durable, quicker, as if she’s impatient to show the new Mac is a real-savage-like rock monster, now that she’s lastly arrived.
6. Stevie takes two power-twirls — one proper earlier than the second verse (1:15), one earlier than the third (1:45). Tonight she wants solely two twirls to say all of it.
7. Oh, that Lindsey/Stevie eye contact. I’ve spent years of my life attempting to decode that have a look at 2:36. What is that smile? An erotic look between two tempestuous lovers, sharing a furtive smile of intimacy in the warmth of musical ardour? Or possibly John McVie simply knocked over any individual’s beer?
8. That Stevie/Christine split-screen duet in the third verse. Their harmonies actually make you discover how a lot “Rhiannon” appears like Nirvana’s best music, “Heart Shaped Box,” besides not even Kurt would attempt to get away with rhyming “darkness” and “darkest.”
9. The 360-degree Lindsey-cam motion at the 3:10 level — maybe the best cinematography of the 1970s to contain an upside-down bearded guitar freak in a kimono. Lindsey steps on his magic pedal and transforms right into a Welsh druid.
10. Everybody in the band will get a showcase close-up, even John McVie. As all the time, he appears to be like like he confirmed up for a barbecue and was stunned to discover a live performance happening.
11. Mick Fleetwood has a cowbell, however doesn’t bang it, as a result of while you’re as cool as Mick Fleetwood, all you want is for the cowbell to sit down there and hearken to you.
12. Lindsey’s ‘fro devours him and spits him out while he plays the Mick Taylor solo from the Rolling Stones’ “Bitch” all the manner by–twice! The Mac jam like they did in the 1960s with Peter Green, like they did in the early 1970s with Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan — besides it’s higher now, as a result of Stevie wrote the music. They nonetheless jam like this onstage in 2015, throughout Stevie’s now-legendary “Crackhead Dance.”
13. Stevie’s shawl-work throughout the jam. She doesn’t overdo it — she simply sways backward and forward, lifting her lace chiffon in the air, a black widow weaving her spiderweb. Note: This garment in all probability now has its personal nook of Stevie’s personal temperature-controlled Shawl Vault.
14. Seriously, that hair. An aviary of white-winged doves, rising out of Stevie’s head.
15. This efficiency occurred on June 11th, 1976. One week later, Blake Shelton was born. Coincidence? Probably. But you may hear a touch of Miranda Lambert in Stevie’s growl.
16. At the 4:30 level, there’s a hush and also you suppose the music is over. (The studio model fades out after barely 4 minutes.) But it’s simply starting. Stevie begins to murmur, “Dreams unwind, love’s a state of mind,” chanting it again and again, beckoning together with her fingers. The music quickens. She stares by the digicam and proper into your very soul. She’s belting now: “Take me like the wind, baby! Take me with the sky!” Lindsey backs her with a few energy strums. Total scarf/hair fusion. It’s just a little scary how intensely Stevie quakes, chanting Rhiannon’s title, and also you discover how steely she appears to be like beneath all that black lace. She virtually jumps out of her boots for that nine-second closing howl, after which — like Rhiannon—she’s gone.
17. The studio viewers have to be in shock. Seven minutes in the past, they’d by no means heard of Stevie Nicks. But tonight they’ll be seeing Welsh witches in their desires. And it’s 1976. Stevie is simply getting began on her lifelong journey of stealing rock & roll hearts. Dreams unwind. Love’s a way of thinking.
[Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published January 2015]