Contributors to this interpretation included: Lauren Leichter, Silver Springs, Erik, Carlene, Phil, CC, Leigh, Becky, Toni, Jamie and Ann S.
The ultimate break-up song. The ultimate pop song. "Go Your Own Way" has such a passionate, furious driving beat that takes you to such a climactic explosive high, only to bring you down with the realization that it's really about the heartache of ending a relationship with someone you love. This song perfectly captures these feelings of hurt and anger.
"Go Your Own Way" was written by Lindsey Buckingham during the Rumours sessions. Lindsey has said he usually does not write the lyrics to his songs first, but rather initially has the music track in place prior to adding the lyrics. Lindsey's passionate guitar playing is what brings his feelings into his songs, while the addition of the lyrics creates a delicate balance between this guitar playing and putting his feelings into words. "Go Your Own Way" is a truthful song with intense emotions of love and fury that originate from the heart.
The song reflects the feelings he had revolving around the ending of his relationship with fellow band member and romantic partner at the time, Stevie Nicks. The music and lyrics show a man plagued by anger, confusion, and disbelief. Through Lindsey's eyes, he paints quite a different picture of what breaking-up feels like than what Stevie has portrayed about the same relationship in her songs at this time (see the mysterious "Dreams" and the haunting "Silver Springs.")
"Loving you, isn't the right thing to do, how can I ever change things that I feel." Lindsey is trying to convince himself that his love for Stevie is not good for him. By doing this, he will feel comfortable with the break-up, although, in his heart, he does not entirely believe this, saying he can never change the fact that he still loves her.
"If I could, maybe I'd give you my world. How can I, when you won't take it from me." Lindsey would give anything to Stevie - his heart, his soul, in essence, his "world" - if only she would stay. But she doesn't and he acknowledges this. "Maybe" is the key word here. Lindsey is offering her his world, but not all of it. He is still saving something for himself, possibly as a way to keep control over the relationship or to keep his self-respect. Stevie wants her independence though, and for reasons best know to her, she leaves. Lindsey does not understand why Stevie does not want to be part of his world.
"You can go your own way. Go your own way. You can call it another lonely day. You can go your own way. Go your own way." Lindsey has now gone from being very upset and passionate about getting the relationship back, to acting as if he doesn't care. The sarcasm in this statement is most likely a form of protection. Lindsey knows that Stevie is leaving him, so he says, "just go - go your own way." He doesn't send her away without a warning though, that she will be lonely without him. It is as if he is crying out for her to stay by actually telling her to leave. He is trying to convince himself that he will be ok, when in reality, he will miss her and doesn't want her to go. Stevie felt the same way about her ending the relationship with Lindsey, that without her, he too would be lonely, as she wrote in the song, "Dreams" ("dreams of loneliness like a heartbeat drives you mad.") One thing they both agreed on was seeing impending loneliness as the highest point of suffering.
"Tell me why everything turned around." I don't think Lindsey ever understood why he and Stevie broke-up or saw the break-up coming. He wants to know why things between them changed. (It has been stated in several interviews that he never really got over Stevie until he left the band in 1987 and could not sort through his feelings for her until this point.) Here, he's trying to make sense of it all. This is not the first time we see these feelings through Lindsey's songs. The song "Monday Morning," on the Fleetwood Mac album, released prior to Rumours, gives an early indication that he feels Stevie is possibly leaving him, but he is not sure why - "First you love me, then you say it's wrong. I can't go on believing for long."
"Packing up, shaking up's all you want to do." The infamous line of infidelity. Originally, the line was said to read "cracking up, shacking up's all you want to do" - with "cracking up" meaning "going crazy," and Lindsey changed the first part of it to "packing up," apparently to somewhat appease Stevie, who said these words were false accusations and they infuriated her. Lindsey has said in many interviews that he felt very strongly about this line and he was really "committed" to the words and would not change them beyond the "cracking up" part. Whether they are true or not, only they know for sure. The truth most likely lies between the two stories.
"If I could, baby I'd give you my world." The word change from "maybe" from the second stanza, to "baby" in this stanza is very important. Before, Lindsey said he would "maybe" give Stevie his world, showing he still had some control left in the relationship. Now he's desperate and this is his final plea to Stevie to please stay and work things out. He doesn't want her to leave and he will give her anything she wants. He has now turned the initial anger of the song into something more romantic for her.
"Open up, everything's waiting for you." Stevie is being protective of her own feelings for Lindsey. This is probably why he never understood completely why she left. If she would just open up to him and communicate, they could work this out and stay together.
"You can go your own way, go your own way. You can call it another lonely day. You can go your own way. Go your own way." Lindsey has now realized that the relationship is over and his subtle attempts to mend it did not work. If the chorus before had an angry, sarcastic tone, followed by a stanza with a more romantic plea, this one is more sorrowful, revolving around the actual ending of the relationship. As the lyrics fade into his intensified guitar solo, Lindsey realizes the lonely day will not just be Stevie's anymore, but his as well. He acquiesces. Maybe he doesn't want the break-up, but he accepts it with deep remorse.
Stevie probably did not want to hurt or necessarily leave Lindsey, but she went her own way for reasons best known to her and that he may not have understood. The consequence of her leaving left Lindsey very hurt and confused and he lashed out at her in this song. In between the verses of anger and betrayal are ones of questioning and pain. Although the lyrics in the song are mostly acrimonious, for Lindsey, they were truthful. It is ironic that such a bitter song is really and truly a love song, shouting out final pleas for the woman he loves.
(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.)