Contributors of interpretations: Janet Strayer, Janice, Erik and Ann Sissom
"The Ledge," written by Lindsey Buckingham, is an outwardly upbeat song. It was written for the album Tusk, which was Lindsey's "tour de force" - his answer to Rumours. It was his way of saying, "This is who I am and fame won't ever change me. Selling millions of records won't change me. This is my music and this is my passion. Here is my soul."
"The Ledge" is a song that shows the part of the soul that is tucked away. Its only revealed when you fall in love, but if that love doesn't work out--this part of the soul is what is damaged the most. The song seems to be dealing with a relationship. His past relationship with Stevie Nicks. It's all those things he could never say to her face. Musicians tend to share their innermost feelings through their music. This is exactly what Lindsey is doing here.
Countin' on my fingers
Countin' on my toes
Slippin' thru your fingers
Watchin' how it grows.
Here we see the relationship breakdown. "Counting on my fingers / Countin' on my toes" is implying a repeat situation. "Slippin thru your fingers," shows the relationship ending, while "watchin 'how it grows," shows the relationship coming back together again. This is very suggestive of a relationship that is not permanent and something that he may loose at any time.
You can love me baby but you can't walk out Some one oughta tell you what its really all about.
Lindsey is saying he loves her and that she can love him. He will take her back, but he does not want her to leave him again. It's too hard for him. He's trying to tell her all this, yet he feels weak and that he will be in this pattern eternally.
Do you ever wonder
Do you ever hate
Six feet under
Someone who can wait.
These lines seem to be saying that she does not realize how much this is hurting Lindsey. He knows she isn't trying to kill him in the literal sense, but he wants to make her aware that she is killing him inside. "Do you ever hate?" The acts she is committing seems to be out of hatred and anger. He cannot see any love with what she's doing. It goes back and forth to him. It may kill him inside, as the line "six feet under," implies death. "Someone who can wait," implies that once his feelings are dead, there will be no problem.
You can love me baby but you can't walk out
Someone oughta tell you
Oughta tell you what its really all about
You're never gonna make it baby
Oohh you're never gonna make it baby
Oohh you're never gonna
Make it babe
Make it babe
Make it baby.
He's telling her she won't get away with this. She can't do this to him anymore. For the rest of her life, she won't make it. She needs him and he knows this. In the actual song the word "crazy" can be heard, saying she is driving him crazy. Although Lindsey is hurting for her inside, he lashes out at her to cover the pain by turning it around to her and saying she will get hurt and never make it. Someone one day will hurt her the same way she has hurt him.
Countin' on my fingers
Countin' on my toes
Slippin' thru the ringer
Watchin' how it goes.
Once again she is gone from him. He watches the relationship slowly die and can't stop it or save it. It seems he just watches. Maybe he has no control over it, or more likely no control over her.
Buy another fixture
Tell another lie
Paint another picture
See who's surprised.
Again, some think this song is about Stevie Nicks, his ex-girlfriend and band mate, and Lindsey's relationship with her. Another fixture could be about her fame and how her fame was bigger than his, she sang a song and got the adoration of millions. Even though he made that song and he may feel he made her, yet he got little recognition. So this song is about her and he's saying, "you can have all the fame, but when it comes to talent, we'll see who wins." "Tell another lie, paint another picture, see whose surprised." This could mean that she writes songs and gives them to him, then when she goes on stage, and again all adoration pours over her. But it's like a lie as he's the one who made the song. She paints the picture of her being the actual song maker, but see whose surprised when they one day find out it's him who did all the work.
The album Tusk shows a lot of interesting points regarding Lindsey's songs. Although Rumours is also about his relationship with Stevie Nicks and the pain he is going through at that time, Tusk seems to sort through these feelings with Stevie. It is after this album he is able to move on somewhat in a lyrical sense.
We see "The Ledge" that is full of anger and defeat; "Save Me a Place," that is much softer and sweet; "What Makes You Think You're the One," which is saying, "I love you, but you cant keep hurting me; "That's All For Everyone," where he's lonely again after telling her off; "Not That Funny," where he sees she is upset, and lonely too and it's not easy, yet he's getting his 'revenge'; "That's Enough For Me" where he's sick of being alone now and he's asking her back, that's enough loneliness; "I Know I'm Not Wrong," where he wants her back, but she says no, and he knows it wasn't his fault; "Walk A Thin Line, " he is now very lonely and she is no longer his. He is really feeling the pain of not having her by his side. And finally, his answer to it all is "Tusk", a powerful song about lust without love, even though the love really never leaves. If he can have her only this way, he will take it.
"The Ledge" is one facet to the many sides of Lindsey Buckingham--being the first of his songs on Tusk...it seems to be more of an introduction to a story, Lindsey's story. His struggle to find who he is without a woman and who he is as a musician and as a man.
(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.)