I consider this song an epic. Stevie's voice rings of passion--as you listen, it breaks through all the barriers, right to the heart. The title, "Sleeping Angel," does seem to imply that it's herself that she's singing about- or it is thought to be about Lindsey...he is the angel. She refers to angels a lot, and has said many times that she believes in angels-that there is an angel watching over her.
Take me if you need me
But never hold me down
You're asking me to trust you
Well there's little of that around
"Take me if you need me...but never hold me down" she seems to be talking to someone: some think she's talking to Lindsey..some think that she's talking about her music, the whole package of rock and roll..take her--but she needs her freedom. The ability to write was a gift to her..don't take that away. " You're asking me to trust you..well there's little of that around"..I believe she is talking about rock and roll..the business. She can't trust the system; she trusts in herself now. This is also a time when Robin, her best friend of many years, was sick, and in months would die.
This whole experience changed her- it caused Stevie to rethink life--she knows its brevity, and does not want to live for anyone else now. Her solo career is strong. One of her other songs, "Fireflies," says " I'm trying to believe"--this was about Fleetwood Mac--trying to believe that they would never die- now maybe she's trying to believe that her spirit will never die. Those four verses are also reminiscent to Dreams..about freedom. In Dreams, it's someone else who wants their freedom-- but now it's her.
I'm trying to believe you
And I'm learning all the time
The flower and the vine
I'm trying to believe you..and I'm learning all the time"..this could have been worded 'I'm trying to believe you BUT I'm learning all the time'...she wants to believe, but she's learning belief in anything is almost pointless.
Disappointment causes one to learn, and she's learning. Also she could be trying to believe that her inner child is still there, and that living hadn't taken that away. "Two-part personality..the flower and the vine"..she's a Gemini--the sign of two personalities, woman/child, the innocence of a child, the struggle of womanhood--she knows too much, and can't enjoy life like she did. Also, Beauty and the Beast comes to mind-who is the beauty, who is the beast, who is the child, who is the woman. You cannot have one without the other...to be a woman, you need to have been a child-- two parts to everything: to her life, to her songs, to her beliefs.
Take me sleeping angel
Catch me when you can
Real love affairs are heavy spells
For a woman and a man
"Take me sleeping angel ... catch me when you can" she's lost her innocence..but that angel lies deep within her, and she's telling herself that she never wants to lose that innocence. She begs it to stay--it's tucked so deep within her now. "Real love affairs are heavy spells..for a woman and a man"...One thing that she has learned is that relationships are hard--she loved men..but they go away.
By 1982 she had many affairs, many loves..and it's almost as if she is under their spell. Once the relationship is over, she finds that she lost more of herself with that man, and now she doesn't want that to happen anymore. No longer does she want to lose herself; she calls to her inner angel to protect her.
Well someday when we're older
And my hair is silver gray
Unbraid with all the love that you have
Like a soft silver chain
Age plays a big part in Stevie's songs...it is obvious age scares her; maybe death scares her. She didn't want to turn 50--she probably didn't want to turn 40-- but life keeps going and you can't stop it...she knows she cant stop it. She begs:"unbraid with all that the love that you have" Unbraid is releasing: when you unbraid hair, it flows out, it's free. "Gold and Braid..." --don't hide, as if braids hide the true beauty. "Like a soft silver chain"...she refers to gold many times, but in this song she chooses silver to reflect old age..she is "golden" now, but in time she will turn silver--but sturdy. Chains are sturdy. So when she gets "old" she plans to be sturdy--but free...unbraiding all this lost innocence. She is trying to embrace old age, embrace death.
Oh, take me sleeping angel
Oh, catch me when you can
And unbraid with all the love that you have
Like a soft silver chain
These verses summarize....when she gets older, when these days are gone, when she is no longer in rock and roll, she begs her inner angel to wake up and take over her, and to let out all this love that she has, all this innocence--she's not going to lose it. She's going to tuck it away, deep within her, until she gets older.
This song gets louder..by the end you feel the emotion ripping out of her. Stevie has a way of taking life and making them into complicated puzzles known as her songs. Christine McVie commented that she rarely knew what Stevie was talking about. It's because Stevie talks in code; everything has a symbol. The sleeping angel is basically her innocence...those days when she was young, living on nothing but love...maybe her days with Lindsey, her days as a child, when she wrote about rose gardens. She knew from the beginning that life would turn out the way it did--those rose gardens would surround her loneliness..and she decided to learn the hard way--giving herself to men, to music. It's now her choice to take things slower, and not to lose herself so quickly.
In 1982, she was still in the beginning of her solo career, and still had years left with Fleetwood Mac and more relationships. I think that this song now holds its true meaning. I waited to write this until I saw her live..and I wanted to see if she would sing the song differently. She ends the song not in a cry--like she does originally--but saying "like a soft silver chain". She's that chain now: sturdy, letting her sleeping angel wake up. Stevie is a woman of prophesy--fully aware of who she is and her capabilities...and I believe she doesn't regret one thing that happened to her. Now she can stand tall and as a survivor...her sleeping angel has awakened.
(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.)