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    Song Title »
Nightbird
    Authors »
Stevie Nicks, Sandy Stewart

    Year Written »
1983

    Lyrics »

And the summer became the fall
I was not ready for the winter
It makes no difference at all
'Cause I wear boots all summer long

My eye make up is dark and it's careless
Some circles around my eyes
Sometimes the real color of my skin
Is my eyes without any shadow

And when I call
Will you walk gently
Thru my shadow
The ones who sing at night
The ones who sing at night
The ones you dream of
The ones who walk away
Capes pulled around them tight
Cryin' for the night
Cry for the nightbird...tonite

And so the winter is really here now
And the blankets that I love
I am surrounded sometimes
By too much love

And when I call
Will you walk gently
Thru my shadow
The ones who sing at night
The ones who sing at night
The ones you dream of
The ones who walk away
Capes pulled around them tight
Cryin' for the night
Cry for the nightbird...tonite

And the darkened eyes
Thru the net of the lace
In the darkness
It's hard to see her face
Pulls back the net
And you feel the touch
Of her fingers

And you see...she turns the eyes And you see the eyes of a nightbird
The ones you dream of
Finally...the nightbird
Finally...the nightbird
Tonite

    Fan Interpretation »

Nightbird is a powerful and moving song about loss and longing and ultimately love. The entire Wild Heart album was written during some of Stevie's darkest times-- the height of her cocaine addiction, Robin dying, A failed marriage to Kim Anderson, Fleetwood Mac seemed to be falling apart, and many other things contributed to this mess as well. The dark intricate tapestries of her lyricism on this record often makes the listener's reaction something like, "God, this is real!", and it truly is because everything that inspired this and the other songs on The Wild Heart were real, and painful, and when one listens to these songs, especially Nightbird, you can empathize and relate, and let emotions flow like perhaps you never have before.

Another theory of this song that was contributed had more to do with Stevie realizing what drugs, touring and stress were finally doing to her and this was her longing for help and love, yet feeling that at the same time she didn't deserve any. This interpretation is probably just as true as the other way that it was interpreted, and often Stevie refers to more than one aspect of her life, or event that has happened, when she writes a song.

And the summer became the fall
I was not ready for the winter
It makes no difference at all
'Cause I wear boots all summer long

Summer is a season symbolic of life and happiness. Quite often summer calls to mind birds and trees and pure joy while the fall is a transitional season...the life of summer fades away from us and we must brace ourselves for the winter. In fall, the birds leave us and the trees lose their leaves and the ground freezes. The winter is usually barren, cold and lifeless. The peace and fullness of the summer has completely departed and we are left with cold, emptiness, and despair. This part seems to be about Stevie's best friend since the age of 15, Robin, slipping from health and high spirits, into a rapidly deteriorating state. The good times had drifted away and Robin left more and more each day. Stevie has also said that Robin had the worst leukemia the UCLA medical center had ever seen, and during the transition to winter, summer seems to leave all too soon and no one is ever really ready for the harsh reality of the winter.

Winter is a season which is in this song a metaphor for death. Robin is the one changing seasons and no matter what, Stevie finds that she cannot accept the death of one so close to her. She is always prepared for the worst, for the winter, she has been prepared even in happier times for it, but ready is something she never was and never could have been. Anyone who has faced that kind of loss can tell you the same. You expect death to come any day, but when it finally does all the time you wasted trying to be ready to deal with it didn't really help at all.

My eye make up is dark and it's careless
Some circles around my eyes
Sometimes the real color of my skin
Is my eyes without any shadow

She says she has been worrying about the impending winter so much that she has neglected to care for herself. She doesn't care at all for little things like make-up because it is a pretense and she is infinitely more concerned with Robin's fate than anything. Maybe she even is more worried about what is going to happen afterwards and how she will react than even Robin herself is, because she has always said how much of a fighter and incredibly brave soul Robin was. She also appears to say that the real color of her skin, the person who she really is, is seen more than ever right now because she can't hide the pain or herself at such a vulnerable time.

And when I call
Will you walk gently
Thru my shadow

She is asking Robin to just show some kind of sign that she's out there, this sign could perhaps be a warm breeze at the utterance of her name or any number of things and Stevie would know that Robin was telling her she was around.

The ones who sing at night
The ones who sing at night
The ones you dream of
The ones who walk away
Capes pulled around them tight
Cryin' for the night
Cry for the nightbird
tonite

This part is about Stevie, Sharon, and Lori. Stevie has said that they are the ones who sing at night because most concerts are at night. They are the ones you dream of because they don't have any time. The first two lines of this section can also be interpreted as the ones you dream of being those you've lost and now see only in dreams and memories, and they walk away because it's like tracking a ghost through a fog. You can search all you want but it is often impossible to find the ones who have left you sometimes even in memories. Stevie, Lori, and Sharon also are very protected....trying to hide themselves and maybe avoid the pain of loss. They are mourning, and at the same time cry for the nightbird.

The Nightingale is a bird that sings only at night, and it is the bird of sorrow. In Medieval times, birds were used as messengers to deliver important news back and forth. Also night is many times used to represent death or darkness and pain. They cry for the nightbird because they are hoping it will come and show some sign of Robin, or a message from her to let them know she's okay. Birds are also used to represent freedom, and in death Robin is free from leukemia, and sickness.

And so the winter is really here now
And the blankets that I love
I am surrounded sometimes
By too much love

Now it has really happened, Robin is gone and Stevie is still in complete disbelief. Blankets cover us when we are cold and make us feel warmth and safety, so the blankets are actually people. These are people she loves deeply who try to console her, but after such a devastating loss who would want to be happy? Most of us would much rather grieve and when people are constantly trying to make you feel better, you can't do that.That love smothers you and doesn't give you the space you need so desperately.

And the darkened eyes
Thru the net of the lace
In the darkness
It's hard to see her face
Pulls back the net
And you feel the touch
Of her fingers
And you see she turns the eyes
And you see the eyes of a nightbird
The ones you dream of
Finally the nightbird
Finally the nightbird
Tonite

This is what it is like to finally get that message, to finally see Robin once more. The lace separates them like a haze, maybe this is a dream, but Robin pulls it away and touches Stevie, this is what Stevie has been longing for since Robin passed away. She has finally seen Robin, and knows now that Robin is out there and free, and the grieving and waiting is over at last.

(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.)

    Tabs »
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    Performances »
Performance #1:
Date Performance 1983-00-00
Running Time 4:59
Performers Kenny Edwards (Bass), Waddy (Robert) Wachtel (Guitar), Ben(mont) (M.) Tench(, III) (Organ), Chet (Charles) McCracken (Drum Overdubs), David Foster (Piano), Marvin Caruso (Drums), Sandy Stewart (Synthesizer), Sandy Stewart (Vocals), Sandy Stewart (Piano Solo), Lori Perry-Nicks/Perry/Nicks (Ladies Vocals), Sharon Celani (Ladies Vocals), David/Dave Bluefield (OBX-A Drum Machine Programmed By), Jimmy Iovine (Produced By), Stevie Nicks (Lead Vocals), Sandy Stewart (Additional Background Vocals By), David/Dave Bluefield (DMX Drum Machine Programmed By), Shelly Yakus (Engineered By), Shelly Yakus (Mixed By), Greg Edward(s) (Mixed By)
CommentsRecorded at Studio 33, L.A. Mixed at Rumbo Recorders. Chart: Billboard US Hot 100 Singles Peak Position: 33 Peak Dates: Jan 28, 1984 & Feb 4, 1984 Weeks On Charts: 11
Appears On
Enchanted (1998)
Stevie Nicks
The Wild Heart (1983)
Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks: The Wild Heart (1983)
Warner Brothers Publications Inc.
The Best Of Stevie Nicks (1984)
Hal Leonard
Nightbird/Gate And Garden (1983)
Stevie Nicks
Nightbird/Nothing Ever Changes (1984)
Stevie Nicks
If Anyone Falls/Nightbird (1984)
Stevie Nicks

    Comments »

(C) 1983 Welsh Witch Music, BMI/Sweet Talk Music/Three Hearts Music, ASCAP

    Reviews »
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    Last Modified »
2007-05-29

    Discography Credits »
Interpretation prepared by Scott Boucher, Missy, Rhiannon, Anusha, Stephanie M., and Marlene.