Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
You know the Fleetwood Mac story...but you don't know the story behind "Rhiannon."
"Rhiannon" was written on the piano by Stevie Nicks and her boyfriend of the time, Lindsey Buckingham (remember that Fleetwood Mac is a band with a lot of...inter-band relationships...in their past).
At the time, they were recording together as "Buckingham-Nicks."
They were about to record their second album...but joined Fleetwood Mac instead...and "Rhiannon" became a Fleetwood Mac song!
Rhiannon is the name of a Welsh goddess...and according to mythology, as the goddess of fertility and the moon...Rhiannon shuns a god, and marries a mortal man. The god then frames her for the murder of her own son...and Rhiannon is forced to stand at the gates of the city, telling everyone entering, that she killed her son.
Enough of a soap opera for you?
Stevie Nicks says that she started writing this now-famous song after reading the book "Triad" by Mary Leader. Its the story of woman who believes that she is being possessed by the spirit of a woman named Rhiannon...
Stevie says that she had no knowledge of the Welsh goddess Rhiannon until after writing the song, adding: "my story was definitely written about a celestial being," further, "I didn't know who Rhiannon was, exactly, but I knew she was not of this world."
The goddess Rhiannon rides around on a white horse...with 3 birds that have healing powers...
"Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night...and wouldn't you love to love her...takes to the sky like a bird in flight..."
And...let me guess: you're thinking of Nicks' solo song "Edge of 17" and the opening verse: "Just like the white-winged dove..."
But, I digress.
The radio-listening and record-buying public didn't need any mythological "backstory" in order to take to "Rhiannon"...under its...wing.
"Rhiannon" climbed to #11 on the Hot 100 chart in 1975!
So, how has Stevie Nicks introduced this hit over the years? In concert intros, she says "Rhiannon" is the story of a Welsh witch...but says that she is a good witch.
When singing her song in concert, Stevie has, at times, sung with such passion, that she has severely strained her voice...leading to canceled Fleetwood Mac shows...so that Nicks could rest her vocal chords!
"Rhiannon" is a consistent crowd favorite!
If you have been following Fleetwood Mac, and Stevie Nicks, over the years...its clear that "Rhiannon" has had an influence on Stevie's image...
...with the flowing shawls...flowing dresses...giving her a "mystical" look...that fans copy.
Here's a few more "Rhiannon" Fun Facts!
The lyrics contain both a simile ("She is like a cat in the dark"), and a metaphor ("And then she is the darkness").
The name Rhiannon means "night queen" or "great queen."
After the song became a hit...some new parents named their daughter Rhiannon...
In 1977, the most popular year for the name, it was ranked at #418 among girl's names...and in 1998, with a re-formed Fleetwood Mac, there was renewed Rhiannon interest...at #423!
In 2013, Stevie Nicks said of her songwriting days with Lindsey Buckingham:
"I presented my songs on a cassette, which I would leave by the coffee pot, with a note saying (to Buckingham) 'You can produce it, but don't change it.'"
To which I say: Heaven forbid!
And..CAUTION: COFFEE MAY BE HOT!