The last song of Stevie Nicks' to appear on a completely new album of Fleetwood Mac's until 1997, "The Second Time" from Behind The Mask is her poignant farewell to the band. What adds to its emotion is that at the time of her writing it with Rick Vito, very few, if any, people thought that Stevie was about to leave the band. Indeed, Stevie herself did not know. The prophetic element of this song, similar to "Rose Garden" and "After the Glitter Fades", makes it possible to interpret in two ways- the first being her overall farewell to the band, and the second being her farewell to Lindsey Buckingham, three years after he had left Fleetwood Mac. Either way, the song is touching and sad, and a true gem on this often overlooked album.
Was it in my mind
Or was it true
The woman used to Hollywood living
Do you remember how
The angels sang
Stevie doubts if any of it ever really happened. She wants to know if she really was a part of Fleetwood Mac, if they really enjoyed the success they did, if she really became incredibly famous, even if she really had a relationship with Lindsey. She is looking back on her life; she wants verification that what she thinks happened really did. She is more jaded now, more comfortable in this world...it has been almost twenty years since she said that "I never thought I'd make it here in Hollywood...I never thought I'd ever want to stay..." And not only did she make it and want to stay, she became so engrossed in the Hollywood life that she can't really remember any other way of living. And Stevie assures herself mentally that it did really all happen. At the same time, she is also reminding herself of the girl she was long ago, before they hit it big. She was innocent then, and life was simpler when they were not a part of the Hollywood lifestyle. So, now sure herself of all that was, she turns her question to Lindsey..."do you remember how the angels sang?" She wants to know if he remembers it all...their love, their music, performing together on stage...they were the angels. The fact that each has referred to the other as an angel solidifies this. But they are not together in Fleetwood Mac anymore and therefore don't perform together anymore. But Stevie does not want him to forget what once was.
And your sorrows left you there
Right before the lights came up
Do you remember
You took my hand
Do you remember, my friend
In this next part, Stevie is referring to, literally, the lights coming up on the stage after a concert. She and Lindsey let it all out on that stage-all their anger, their hate, their love. But when the lights came up, the passionate emotions seemed to leave them and their relationship was sort of "bland" again-because both wanted to conceal their anger at times; at other times, they did choose to let it out. She wants to make sure he remembers everything-how they used to hold hands together; how they held hands as they took their bows at the end of a show. She calls him her "friend". In her song "Ghosts", the line "one day they were lovers/one day they were friends" implies that they're being friends was a disappointment because that was all they were. But in this line, it seems more of a positive thing-they are friends again, after all this time. What is interesting is that by all accounts, Stevie and Lindsey still were not on good speaking terms in 1990.
Another way to view this verse is in light of Stevie's departure from the band. She is asking Fleetwood Mac (particularly Mick Fleetwood) if he remembers what she brought to the band; she calls Mick her friend. The lights coming up could be her departure from the band-she is leaving her pain and hurt behind her, and moving on to devote her time to healing herself and working on her own music. Mick was the one who led her and Lindsey into the band; in a sense, she is thanking him for doing that, at the same time telling him that the Fleetwood Mac that was is just that- a memory.
Did you feel like it was
The second time with you,
That feeling of a vivid memory
Well it had to do
With a dream come true
"The second time"- that phrase has two connotations. The first is slightly negative; they are in a rut of sorts. The second is more positive- the "second time" is a chance for them to start fresh. Stevie is simultaneously asking both Lindsey and Mick if they have that sense of déjà vu that she has. When Lindsey left it was like they were breaking up all over again; when Stevie left Fleetwood Mac, it was a permanent end to the affair begun with Mick more than 10 years before. Finally, through the two departures (Lindsey's, and her's), she had closure.
All that's left now is that "vivid memory". That is all that remains of her and Lindsey's relationship; that is all that remains of her tenure with Fleetwood Mac. Both are finished. Again, closure. We have seen this idea of memories before- most notably in Mirage's "Gypsy"- "And the memory is all that is left for you now"; "the gypsy that remains." But the memory is not completely hopeless- because, after all, their dream did come true. Fleetwood Mac became one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Stevie and Lindsey were able to perform to sold out stadiums. But there was bittersweetness to that whole dream, because the whole time, you had the undercurrents of their various personal relationships pervading it.
And someone that you loved
And would always love
The second time around
She never looked back
Who is the person that Stevie will always love? Lindsey? Mick? Is the someone simply being a part of Fleetwood Mac? This is similar to "Silver Springs"- "You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you." Stevie will always haunt Lindsey; he will always haunt her. The memory of what was will always haunt Stevie- the memory of Lindsey, the memory of Fleetwood Mac. But in order for that love to be "haunting," there had to be that "second time." On "the second time around," Stevie was able to look at things more clearly. Is the second time, quite simply, her leaving Fleetwood Mac? It is the second major departure from Fleetwood Mac since they joined it in 1974. "For us"- the implication here is that they all had a second chance. Her leaving (along with Christine's) is giving Fleetwood Mac a chance to reinvent itself; it is giving her a chance to recover from that Hollywood lifestyle. But Stevie has no regrets; not about anything. She doesn't look back and yearn for what might have been. She accepts the reality and moves on.
Someone that you loved
And would always love
The second time around, for us
She never looked back
She could never look back
In this final haunting verse, we get new insight into the meaning with the addition of one word- "could." It is not merely a matter of Stevie not wanting to look back; more exactly, it is a matter of her knowledge that to look back would mean her transformation into a pillar of salt, so to speak. Stevie has often said in interviews that she has no regrets. However, those are interviews from 1997 and on...maybe, in the early '90s, when things for Fleetwood Mac in general were not as promising as they had once been, Stevie did harbor some regrets for what could have been. But again, she knows that to look back will only hurt her in the end. She doesn't long for a renewal of her relationship with Lindsey; she didn't exactly beg to rejoin Fleetwood Mac. There is an image in this final verse of a solitary Stevie Nicks, traversing the road ahead alone, never looking back over her shoulder, even if it is only for an encouraging smile and wave. She needed to do this entirely on her own.
The prophetic element of this song adds to its allure. Stevie's voice, betraying her emotions, goes straight to the heart of the listener. It is a song of regret in some aspects, a song of memories. It is a song of farewell. To whom exactly Stevie was bidding farewell-Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac, or some other entity-is not exactly clear. But the overall message of this song goes deeper than that. Just because Stevie is not looking back doesn't mean that she doesn't want to be remembered. In a way, Stevie is inviting her fans to come along with her as she continues to explore her music. This song is the final song on the "Behind The Mask" album- and overall, it gives a sense of closure to the band itself. It is as if Stevie is giving her approval for whatever Fleetwood Mac chooses to do in the future. Through this song, she is closing the door on the era that she and Lindsey dominated and leaving the door open for the next to begin.
(The interpretations to these lyrics were compiled through discussions on the message boards of the Penguin, The Ledge. It is entirely possible that the artists had something completely different in mind.)