Song of the Year: ‘Soldier’s Angel’

Saluting Stevie Nicks’ “Soldier’s Angel”

Years from now, 2011 may be remembered as the year postfeminism produced poster girls for the status quo. Female-fronted hits such as the movie Bridesmaids and the TV show New Girl were hailed as breakthroughs, despite their unremarkable content. (Bridesmaids even showed up on some confused critics’ year-end best lists.)

Ironically, inordinate media attention turned this distaff escapist trend into a genuine threat to women’s cultural advancement. The “women in comedy” hype carries the suggestion that lucrative half-truths are the best female artists can hope to achieve; risking personal expression turns funny chicks into Debbie Downers.

My choice for best pop song of last year, Stevie Nicks’ “Soldier’s Angel,” points the way out of hype. As if responding to Bridesmaids and New Girl, Nicks shows us how 21st-century pop artists can speak truth and navigate politics.

In “Soldier’s Angel,” Nicks tells how her visits with wounded veterans at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital unsettled her as a woman, citizen and icon. Lindsey Buckingham’s resonant guitar notes ensure that the song is threaded through with dread in the face of mortality. Against this stirring backdrop, Nicks’ voice—scarred and pitted by time and trouble—expresses a veteran artist’s perseverance for inspiration.

Imagining how the soldiers to whom she ministers must see her, Nicks sings, “I am a soldier’s girlfriend as I look upon their faces/ They make me remember my first love/ Goin’ out to dances.” Buckingham’s presence as guitarist and background vocalist connects her romantic recollection to our collective Fleetwood Mac memories. As “smart” pop critics might say, Nicks “implicates the audience” in her healing mission.

The refrain of “Solder’s Angel” speaks of the “war of words between worlds” within which Nicks’ mission is enmeshed. This must refer to the partisan scapegoating that has infected American political discourse. While Hollywood entertainment like Bridesmaids and New Girl promises escape from political conflict, Nicks elevates the discourse to a philosophical, even spiritual plane.

“Soldier’s Angel” was a 2011 highlight, but it may resonate even more profoundly in this election year. As Nicks warns: “No one walks away from this battle.”

Ben Kessler / City Arts / Tuesday, January 17, 2012

For What It’s Worth (2022)

TWO ICONS ONE NIGHT

Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks

March 10, 2023
Los Angeles, CA
SoFi Stadium

April 10, 2023
Arlington, TX
AT&T Stadium

May 19, 2023
Nissan Stadium
Nashville, TN

August 5, 2023
Ohio Stadium
Columbus, OH

August 19, 2023
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, MO

Presented by Live Nation

2022 Tour

Stevie Nicks

Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Snowmass, CO
Labor Day 2022

Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
September 8, 2022
September 10, 2022

Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
September 13, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sea Hear Now Festival
Asbury, NJ
September 17, 2022

Xfinity Center
Mansfield, MA
September 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Maine Savings Amphitheatre
Bangor, ME
September 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sound on Sound Festival
Bridgeport, CT
September 24-25, 2022

Ohana Festival
Dana Point, CA
September 30, 2022

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA
October 3, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

POSTPONED
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Phoenix, AZ
October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

POSTPONED
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The Woodlands, TX
October 9, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Alpharetta, GA
October 12, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ascend Amphitheater
Nashville, TN
October 16, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Credit One Stadium
Charleston, SC
October 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

PNC Music Pavilion
Charlotte, NC
October 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
October 25, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
West Palm Beach, FL
October 28, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Orion Amphitheatre
Huntsville, AL
October 31, 2022

RESCHEDULED SHOWS

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Woodlands, TX
November 2, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion
Phoenix, AZ
November 5, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

 

Today in Stevie History

Milestone
1945

On November 26, 1945, John Graham McVie was born in Ealing, Middlesex, England.

Edge of Midnight (2020)

Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (2017)

New Release

Stevie Nicks, Stand Back 1981-2017, compilation

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