I would never, ever say “Landslide” is my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Never. That’s like saying your favorite Mexican restaurant is the first Mexican restaurant you ever ate at, as a kid, the family style one, where you always ordered cheeseburgers. “Landslide” is intro Fleetwood Mac. Basic. Beginner level. This column here is so advanced in its Fleetwood Mac studies that a search of our site for the word “landslide” will come up with nothing. WE’VE NEVER EVEN WRITTEN THE WORD IN ANY CONTEXT, that’s how far beyond it we are. Am I the Dixie Chicks? The Smashing Pumpkins? Miley Cyrus? Fuck no. I’m a real fan. “Landslide” isn’t my favorite Fleetwood Mac song.
But it is pretty great. I will admit that.
“Landslide” is one of the first songs Stevie Nicks contributed on her own to Fleetwood Mac, back in 1974 (or ’73 or ’75 depending on the telling of the story) when, surprise surprise, she and Lindsey Buckingham weren’t getting along and she was deciding whether or not to keep playing music. It’s got a seductive mix of nostalgia, real concrete imagery and the charm of a young person singing about getting older that somehow translates, as Stevie gets older and continues to sing it, into the charm of an older person looking back wisely on her life. The lyrics are just vague enough that anyone with even the slightest twinge of wistfulness for something they can’t quite pin down immediately connects with it.
There’s this Portuguese word, “saudade,” that has no direct English translation, that basically means “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.”
I would make the case that “Landslide” is the English translation for saudade.
There’s about a million covers of “Landslide,” and I suggest you peruse YouTube and Spotify to find a good one. My favorite cover? When my mom sings along with Stevie Nicks on the radio. Saudade.