Fleetwood Mac: Gypsy

Fleetwood Mac: Gypsy


Fleetwood Mac’s streak of consecutive multi-platinum albums began in the seventies and continued in 1982 with Mirage, the follow-up to the band’s 1979 double-album, Tusk. During the summer of 1982, Mirage topped the album charts and added to the band’s already impressive canon of hits with Hold Me, Love In Store and of course, fan (and band) favourite Gypsy.

Gypsy was originally written by Stevie Nicks circa 1978-79, at a time when the band’s level of fame was skyrocketing, and was intended for her solo debut album, Bella Donna. But fortunately for Fleetwood Mac, there was not enough room on Bella Donna, so Gypsy was held back for Mirage, and in August of '82 it was released as the second single from the album.

Stevie has cited two main points of inspiration for the song – one is a daydreamy, romantic look back to a time before the fame, to an apartment in San Francisco where she lived with Lindsey Buckingham. She was playing in Buckingham Nicks and money was tight, so the couple were sleeping on a mattress on the floor:

So I'm back, to the velvet underground
Back to the floor, that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was

Velvet Underground was a clothing store in downtown San Francisco, where Stevie – with stars in her eyes – dreamed of being able to shop. Janis Joplin had bought her clothes there. It was a small “hole in the wall” with a hand-painted floor. In the eyes of the budding rock star, it was filled with beautiful things - velvet, boots, and long dresses.

“The clothes I wear... that doesn't change. I love long dresses. I love velvet. I love high boots. I never change. I love the same eye make-up. I'm not a fad person. I still have everything I had then. That's one part of me... that's where my songs come from. There's a song on the new Fleetwood Mac album [Mirage] that says, 'Going back to the velvet underground/back to the floor that I love,' because I always put my bed on the floor. 'To a room with some lace and paper flowers/ back to the gypsy that I was.' And that's San Francisco. That's the Velvet Underground. Those are the things that I can't give up.“ - Stevie Nicks, interview with The Record, 1982

The second story behind the song marks a key moment in Stevie’s life, when she lost her best friend, Robin, who she met when they were 14 or 15 at high school in Los Angeles. It’s a heartbreaking story.

“The song Gypsy isn't a real happy story. Gypsy is a lot about returning to San Francisco. And Gypsy was written when my best friend [Robin] died of Leukemia and uh ...about the fact that she wasn't going to see the rest of this: I still see your bright eyes, it was like she wasn't ...going to make it. And uh, I was like the lone gypsy... this was my best friend from when I was 15 and so I was a solo gypsy all of a sudden and it was very sad for me and that's sometimes when I write my very best songs."

"Robin had been on the road with Fleetwood Mac for five years. As my speech therapist and also management... “I still miss your bright eyes”… that's why we don't do it on stage ... it's because it's really too hard for me to sing. “Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice”... that means one time in your life you find a very good friend, and maybe if you're incredibly lucky, you might find a second. It all comes down to you, means but you have to look very hard.” - Stevie Nicks, in a 1988 video interview for Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits

After Robin passed away, in a reaction to her severe grief, Stevie married Robin’s husband, Kim. In a 1990 interview with US magazine, she explains: "Robin was one of the few women who ever got leukaemia and then got pregnant. And they had to take the baby [named Matthew] at 6 and a half months, and then she died 2 days later… I went crazy. I just went insane. And so did her husband. And we were the only two that could really understand the depth of the grief that we were going through. …it was a terrible, terrible mistake. We didn't get married because we were in love, we got married because we were grieving and it was the only way that we could feel like we were doing anything. And we got divorced 3 months later.”

So, when you listen to this fantastic and previously unreleased early version of Gypsy (player above) – taken from the upcoming Mirage Deluxe Edition releases – you may feel new emotional up's and down's from a song that is both a nostalgic tribute to San Francisco and a beautiful dedication to a lost friend.

Available on September 23, the new Mirage Deluxe Edition expands on the original album with newly remastered sound, a selection of rare and unreleased recordings, as well as the stories and pictures behind the album.

Three formats available:

  • Deluxe: Three CDs, DVD and LP. Original album remastered, plus b-sides and rarities; the original album on LP; live performances; and a 5.1 mix on DVD.
  • Expanded: Two CDs. Original album remastered, plus a disc of b-sides and rarities.
  • Remastered: Original album remastered.

Digital versions of the Deluxe and Remastered formats will also be available.

Find out more about these deluxe edition releases here.

Want a Fleetwood Mac fix right now? Here's some of their biggest and best songs in our I Like: Fleetwood Mac playlist...enjoy!

- RB

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