This was my toughest song yet and I owe it all to you guys for all the wonderful (but challenging) interpretations. Hope you enjoy it.
The lonely heartbeat driven mad in Stevie Nicks' haunting Fleetwood Mac song "Dreams," skips a beat in "Outside the Rain," a single from Nicks' first solo album, Bella Donna.
A continuation of the lullaby "Dreams," (a song that was written about Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie's feelings revolving around their break-up), "Outside the Rain," paints the way for Stevie to gain the strength to step outside the situation and establish her independence away from both Lindsey and Fleetwood Mac.
In "Dreams," the desperation and turmoil that surround the madness of the heartbeat is reminiscent of an innocent love that has been lost to a world of loneliness. The haunting cry of Lindsey's guitar that echo's Stevie's lyrics in "Dreams," is now silent in "Outside the Rain."
Here, Stevie stands away from a difficult situation to re-evaluate her feelings of bitterness and hurt, as well as acceptance and independence. In a dream, the perfect relationship can exist.
"It's only a dream...."
The power beneath the whisper of these lyrics may be the only clue as to the true meaning behind "Outside the Rain." Although Stevie has stated that the song is a continuation of her song "Dreams," she has offered no more information behind it's obscurity.
"Outside the rain
And the heart skips a beat
So you're lonely
Creature of the night
It's been almost a week
Can you love me only?"
Stevie has continuously used nature to symbolize the feelings in her relationships. The "snow covered hills" in "Landslide," the "mountains" in "Crystal," and the "rain," first in "Dreams," and now in "Outside the Rain." To Stevie, rain can symbolize something hopeful and pure, like a soft rain shower that can wash you clean, or something full of frustration and turmoil, like the power of the thunder in a storm. Here, Stevie has moved outside the turmoil of the thunder behind the rain in "Dreams," and is now able to see things more clearly. She now stands outside the rain.
As Stevie steps outside the rain, and looks at the situation around her, the heart is skipping a beat because she and Lindsey could not make the relationship work. The heart in question here may be only Stevie's, or only Lindsey's, or it may be both of theirs. To help make herself feel more at ease with this change, Stevie is reaffirming the fact that just as she warned Lindsey in "Dreams," he is now lonely without her.
Like the heart, the "creature of the night" could be anyone. It may be Stevie as the "Nightbird" or Lindsey working on his music late at night in isolation. It may also be symbolic of the only way they can have a relationship...
Lindsey has stated that they were an on-again, off-again item after they broke-up, and it's possible they may have seeked refuge in each other's arms late at night. She questions him "can you love me only?" Stevie often felt left out of the musical process in the recording studio, which was Lindsey's core. Could he love her only, above and beyond the musical process?
"Look at me, for a very long time
Long enough to know
Love is a word - I've been trying to find
Words don't matter
They don't matter at all."
The eyes are the windows to Stevie's soul. Here, she is telling Lindsey to look deeply at her so that he can really understand and connect to her. Long enough to know she is the one for him. Stevie is still trying to define "love." Although the words don't matter, (actions speak louder than words), she still wants to find the actual feeling of love. It is possible that the entire notion of love to her is not real - it's only a word, flat and uncaring without meaning.
"Maybe it's only a dream
I don't want to feel that
Well it's one more link - in the chain
I don't believe that."
"It's only a dream..." is the core of "Outside the Rain." In a dream, the perfect relationship can exist. Stevie wants to feel this in real life, not only in a dream. The echo of this line throughout the song sets the stage for the feelings behind the obscurity of the lyrics - that it is only a dream.
One more link in the chain is very symbolic and focuses the attention back to another song about breaking up on Rumours, "The Chain." The links of the chain symbolize the strength that kept the band together, kept the players together.
"Never break the chain" - in love and in life. Time has proven that the chain cannot be broken and that everything comes back in a circle. These lines were almost a prophecy for Lindsey. Although Stevie has changed the lyrics somewhat in live performances and has put the emphasis on Mick at times even, this only reiterates that the chain is her strength in Fleetwood Mac, as well as in her relationships.
"So you're still lonely
You say that it's been forever
Maybe you never knew me - Maybe you thought that
I'd never change - but
You know I'm changing
The bitterness of these words reinstate Stevie's warnings to Lindsey impending loneliness. Again, likened to "Dreams," he feels the loneliness "in the stillness of remembering what he had and what he lost." What's been forever? Their love? Intimacy? Whatever it was, Stevie insinuates that Lindsey never really knew her. He thought she would always be the same, never change, always be there for her. "Time makes you bolder" - as Stevie evolves into something more independent. Ironically, her independence away from Lindsey has been just like "dying," - the hardest thing she has ever done. "Watching you go is like dying..." from "Twisted" may also relate back to this song and those feelings. There is a price to be paid for this loss and Stevie never forgot that price.
"And it's been like dying - No love's that hard to find -And I'm tired of-
I'm tired of trying
Outside the rain
And the heart skips a beat So you're lonely"
This placement of this verse is a reality check for Stevie, enabling her to move forward. It is simply reiterating the previous lyrics. Obviously Stevie has stepped outside the situation and can look within. She sees it more clearly now. The heart skips a beat. She knows Lindsey will be lonely without her, yet, she is tired of trying to make it work. To her, again, it feels like dying.
Another song that is a tie in to this one (and also to Lindsey's song about Stevie, on Rumours, "Go Your Own Way") is Stevie's "How Still My Love," also on Bella Donna She sings "you go, your way, go on, but you don't forget me, my lonely, one." We all move on, but we never forget those that we loved the most.
"Look in my eyes. Touch my face. Baby, there's no one. That can take my place."
"Look in my eyes, touch my face. Baby there's no one that can ever replace that - heartache. Take away that heartache."
These two verses can be interpreted side-by-side, and are a very powerfully written pre-closure that is part bitterness and part realization. Again, Stevie is asking Lindsey to just look inside her, look into her soul and "touch her face," feel the warmth and comfort of someone he knows and who knows him well. Stevie continues by telling Lindsey that no one will ever be able to replace her. It is entirely possible that she truly believes this. It also may be a way for her to comfort herself. Regardless, this statement is very bold, and when you listen to her sing it, you can feel the sting in her words. Her heart still aches for him and she acknowledges this.
"Love is a word that some entertain. If you find it, You have won the game."
To entertain love and to have it are two different things. To entertain love indicates that you do not have love completely within your grasp. If you are lucky enough to have found love, to Stevie, is winning the game. "Winning" is yet another prominent theme that Stevie, as well as Lindsey have used in many of their songs. If you can find love and if you can keep it, then that is when you have won the game and you hold the prize.
"Somebody said, outside the rain..."
Outside the rain, the storms, the turmoil. If "when the rain washes you clean" you see things more clearly, then stepping outside the rain enables you to move on, to have the strength for closure. Stevie stepped "outside the rain" to let go of her previous relationship with Lindsey. Now she can be truly free to experience love again.
It is very important to acknowledge the importance of this song being on Stevie's first solo album, Bella Donna, only reinforces her need to establish her independence and not always be in someone's shadow as she often felt with her songs on the Fleetwood Mac albums. Bella Donna was Stevie's first assertion of her independence as a solo artist and many of the songs on this album only reinforce this theme. Stevie needed to write this song not only to Lindsey, but also to herself, to put her feelings of frustration, bitterness and pain behind her. To have closure. It is sad that closure would not occur for either of them for another 15 years.
Keep in mind that these words are Stevie's perspective and based on her feelings of the situation. There are two sides to every story and Lindsey's view on the relationship is just as valid.
"It's only a dream...."
In a dream the perfect relationship can exist. Outside the rain.
(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.)