Stevie Nicks

The Wild Heart @ 30: ‘When I call, will you walk gently through my shadow’

“And the summer became the fall. I was not ready for the winter…”

1983-nightbird-robin-anderson-500
Stevie and Robyn

Closing Side One of The Wild Heart is the soulful “Nightbird,” a song that poignantly addresses the death of Stevie Nicks’ childhood friend Robin Anderson, who succumbed to leukemia at the end of 1982. Stevie draws parallel to her 1981 hit single “Edge of Seventeen,” borrowing the lyric “just like the white winged dove” for the song’s final refrain. An unreleased outtake of “Nightbird” contains slightly different lyrics that refer to the “eyes of the nightbird.” According to Stevie, both the white wing dove and the nightbird are metaphors for death, the spirit leaving the body.

‘A spirit calling’

Robin Anderson’s spirit served as The Wild Heart‘s main inspiration, which is reflected in album’s dedication: “This music is dedicated to Robin — for her brave, wild heart. And to the gypsies that remain.”

“This song does extend from ‘Edge of Seventeen,’ Nicks reveals. “It’s about the difficulties of female rock ‘n’ roll singers, it’s about my friend Robin, it’s about death, it’s a spirit calling. Wearing boots all summer long is like, always being ready for a flood or avalanche to happen, for the worst to happen. Because when you really look at life, all the money, material things and dreams we all search after could not save one small girl.”

Nightbird 1983
The limited-run US picture sleeve 7″ vinyl release of “Nightbird” with unique artwork remains rare and highly collectible.

Third single

“Nightbird,” featuring Stevie’s longtime collaborator Sandy Stewart on shared vocals, was the third and final single released from The Wild Heart, reaching No. 33 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and No. 32 on Mainstream Rock. Stevies gave memorable performances of the song on Saturday Night Live and Solid Gold (both clips below) but has never performed the song since. Background singer Lori Nicks sang Sandy Stewart’s parts for both of these performances.

Musicians

Bass: Kenny Edwards
Piano: David Foster
Drum overdubs: Chet McCracken
Synthesizer, vocals, and piano solo: Sandy Stewart
Organ: Benmont Tench
Guitar: Waddy Wachtel
Background vocals: Sharon Celani & Lori Perry

Produced by Jimmy Iovine. Recorded at Record Plant, New York

Billboard charts

Pop Singles: 33
Mainstream Rock: 32 (February 11, 1984)

Lyrics

And the summer became the fall
I was not ready for the winter
It makes no difference at all
‘Cause I wear boots all summer long

Eye makeup dark and it’s careless
Same circles around my eyes
Sometimes the real color of my skin
Is my eyes without any shadow

(And when I call)
(Will you walk gently through my shadow)
When I call will you walk
Gently through my show
(It’s the ones who sing at night)
Cried the nightbird
(The ones who sing at night)
(The ones you dream of)
The ones you dream of
(The ones who walk away)
The ones who run away
(With their capes around them tight)
Their capes pulled around them tight
(Cryin’ for the night)
Cry for the nightbird
Tonight

The winter is really here now
And the blankets that I love
Sometimes I am surrounded
By too much love

(And when I call)
(Will you walk gently through my shadow)
And when I call will you walk
Gently through my shadow
(It’s the ones who sing at night)
It’s the ones who sing at night
(The ones you dream of)
The ones you dream of
(The ones who walk away)
With their capes pulled around them tight
Cryin’ for the night
Cry for the nightbird
Tonight

Do-do, doo…do-do, do
Doo…do-do, doo…do-do
Doo…do-do, doo…do-do
Doo…do-do, doo…do-do
Doo…do-do, doo…do-do
Doo…do-do, doo…do-do

(And when I call)
(Will you walk gently through my shadow)
And when I call will you walk
Gently through my shadow
(It’s the ones who sing at night)
Cried the nightbird
(The ones who sing at night)
The ones who sing at night
(The ones you dream of)
The ones you dream of
(The ones who walk away)
The ones who run away
(With their capes around them tight)
Cryin’ for the night
Cry for the nightbird
Tonight

(And when I call)
(Will you walk gently through my shadow)
When I call will you walk
Gently through my shadow
(Just like the white winged dove)
(It’s the ones who sing at night)
Cry for the nightbird
(The ones who sing at night)
Ooh…

(Ooh, ooh)
Through the dark and the net of the lace
Pulls back the net and it’s hard to see her face
(Just like the white winged dove)
Feel the touch
The touch that you want so much

(Yes, when I call)
(You can walk gently through my shadow)
Through the dark and the net of the lace
And she pulls back the net
(Just like the white winged dove)
Hard to see to see her face
(Don’t be afraid)
You’ll see
(‘Cause you’ll see)

(Stevie Nicks, Sandy Stewart) © 1982 Welsh Witch Music (BMI) / Admin. by Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI) / Sweet Talk Music/Three Hearts Music (ASCAP)

Saturday Night Live performance

[vimeo 14425066 w=740]

Solid Gold performance

Stevie Nicks - With Lori Nicks - Nightbird - Live on Solid Gold - HD 1080p 3Mbit - 1983

YouTube

NEXT: Stand Back: First he took my heart then he ran ~ >

References

Modern Records. (1983). Stevie Nicks: The Wild Heart [Press release].
Whitburn, J. (2008). Joel Whitburn presents rock tracks 1981-2008. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc.

Upcoming Shows

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks will no longer be performing at five previously scheduled festivals.

Stevie Says...
If I'm not vulnerable, I won't ever wrote any more songs about vulnerability, and then what am I doing? I need to help people. I need make people believe that it's all right to be vulnerable and to be a little naive, and to be still sweet and kind and good.

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New Release

Stevie Nicks, Stand Back 1981-2017, compilation

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