Contributors to this interpretation included: Hayley, Keith, Miss Scarlett and Tracy G..
To her fans, Stevie Nicks' words are beautiful, but obscure. Says Christine McVie : "Stevie's words can be pretty obscure at best...in her mind her words make complete sense and I often used to wonder what on earth she was talking about, you know?"
Yes, most of Stevie's fans DO know. Welcome to the Room, Sara, continues in her fine tradition of extremely cryptic and obscure lyrics.
This song is even more obscure without knowing about some of the background of this song. This song was written for Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night album, shortly after her Rock a Little solo tour. In 1986, Stevie's friends, family, and management company, Front Line, staged an intervention. Stevie was sent to the Betty Ford Center for 28 days for treatment for her alcohol and drug problems.
This song was written about that experience at the Betty Ford Center, where she had checked in under the pseudonym Sara Anderson.
It's not home
And it's not Tara
In fact do I know you
Have I been here before
This is a dream, right
Did I come here on my own
Oh I see
Welcome to the room Sara for Scarlett
Welcome to the choir, sir
Stevie is at one of the lowest points of her life. In the "it's not home" verse, is she describing her surroundings at the Betty Ford Center? Her room at the Center sure doesn't feel like home, and it's definitely not Tara, a palace. Or is she talking about how she feels...her situation in life...her mind has been in a different place for so long and when she is forced to change her ways, she's having a hard time recognizing where she is. She's changed. The attitude of this portion of the song sounds like she's been through this experience before. Stevie wonders if she came to the Betty Ford Center on her own, was it her choice? And even if she did, it still sounds like she did it for someone else at heart.
Well I will be different
When I get back
And you can take all of the credit
You say everything's fine baby
But sometimes at night
Where the first cut is the deepest one of all
And the second one
Well, it's a worthless thing
So take it all the way back home
Take it home
The verse starts out positive. She's saying that when she is out of the center, everything will be better. Her addiction will be over. But the way she uses the term "Missionary" in the song gives it a somewhat different twist. It's used sarcastically, like she's saying the person/people who helped her face her problem has taken the role of a missionary, proud that they have "saved her." Maybe she's telling the missionary that she will be different to please them. Stevie knows that the missionary is not necessarily helping her because he/she cares about Stevie and her life, but is still willing to go along with what they're asking her to do. Is she talking about her management company? The missionary is taking all of the credit for Stevie cleaning up. But where's the missionary at night? Is he/she there for her? When she talks about the 'first cut' she could be talking about possible withdrawal symptoms she's going through. Most likely, though, she's saying that recognizing and admitting her won problem is what hurt the most and was what was the hardest. The 'second cut,' or her actual treatment, did not sting half as much.
Ooohhh downstairs where the big old house is mine
Ohh, upstairs where the stars laugh and shine
Oh, oh well I thought that you were mine
Well, I thought that you were mine.
She's referencing two different places in her life. Downstairs is reality, the mess that she's been left to clean up, her world. She knows this world. Upstairs is her frame of mind at the clinic. She's getting better, it's a safe haven.
Welcome to the room Sara, Sara (for Scarlett)
Welcome to the choir, sir
Well of course it was a problem (for Scarlett)
Front line baby
Well you held her prisoner
And after all these years
Well as well as you knew her
In the never forgotten words of another one of your friends
In the never forgotten words of another one of your friends, baby
When you hang up that phone
Well you cease to exist
Welcome to the room Sara
Welcome to the room everyone
Her addiction was a problem for all those years, for Sara...Front Line was Stevie's management company during this time. They were fired shortly after the completion of Stevie's treatment...They used and manipulated her, Stevie feels. She's realizing cocaine held her prisoner during those successful years of her career. She knows she has spent many years as an addict and has decided it's time to know herself and let go of her safety blanket, that addiction. 'When you hang up that phone...' could be referring to something a friend of Stevie's said to her that relates to her getting past her addiction. In the line "well you cease to exist" she has succeeded. Her cocaine use is over and she has found herself...
Stevie's use of the name "Sara" is frequent. The song of the same name, 'Sara,' from Tusk, has long been considered Stevie's most mysterious song. She's admitted that her alter ego is a woman named Sara, deep inside herself. The actual phrase "Welcome to the room, Sara" could be thought of as Stevie telling herself she's starting over, everything is clear and focused...
Stevie uses the words "Scarlett" and "Tara" a lot in this song....There's a huge Gone with the Wind connection in this song. Obviously the names are from that book, but...Scarlett was a woman who was searching for money, power, success and that success constantly got in the way of her truly connecting with any one person. When she finally found her Mr. Right, she doesn't see or understand it until it's too late. This could really apply to Stevie's relationships, possibly Lindsey. And Tara is Scarlett's base. Her home, she doesn't feel the same without it, it's truly home. Stevie's alluding to how her frame of mind is "not home and it's not Tara"...She doesn't recognize herself? Once again, she is trying to find herself in the mess she's created for herself.
Ahh, would I love to be able to be in Stevie's mind now, the secrets of this song may finally be satisfied...but until that day, I guess all of our curiosity will never be satisfied...
Stevie's more recent revelations that Mick Fleetwood fell in love with her best friend, Sara, who then moved in with Mick at a time when Stevie was having a secret affair with him, meant that, as she says, she lost her lover and her best friend in one fell swoop. She also says that, as a result, Sara was banned from the recording studio. The words of this song are, like "Sara" on "Tusk", less mysterious in the light of this information.
(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.)