Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ was inspired by a supernatural novel
“Rhiannon” is a Fleetwood Mac original created by Stevie Nicks. This artist mentioned that her inspiration came from a 1970s supernatural novel by Mary Bartlett Leader. Here’s what we know about that success.
What is Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’ about?
Fleetwood Mac is the rock band behind Rumorsfeaturing members Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Nicks and others.
Some songs were written by the duo of Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, others were created by Nicks. Most notably, Nicks wrote “Rhiannon” for Fleetwood Mac, later elaborating on the meaning of the song.
“She’s just a mystical woman [who] has a hard time being attached,” Nicks said during a radio interview with Jim Ladd in 1976. “What the band really does have is that wing-lifting feel. You know when you see a seagull and it gets up? Well, it’s Rhiannon. She’s moving.
“Rhiannon rings like a bell all night long,” Nicks sings. “And wouldn’t you love to love him?” Soars like a bird in flight / And who will be her lover?
The lyrics continue, saying that this character “directs his life like a bird in flight.” This could be interpreted as a reference to the literature that inspired Nicks’ song, as noted by Music Spotlight Magazine.
‘Rhiannon’ was inspired by a 1970s novel by Mary Bartlett Leader
According to Music Spotlight Magazine, this Nicks original was inspired by Mary Bartlett’s supernatural novel Leader, Triad. The horror story tells the story of Athena and her two brothers Atlas and Anders, who are shapeshifters and together the “triad”.
In the mythology, there is also a goddess of the same name that Nicks would have known only after the launch of “Rhiannon”. The character traveled with a white horse and three birds with healing powers – a white horse a fitting parallel to Nicks’ “white witch” reputation.
“It was not until 1978 that I discovered [Welsh medieval prose tales] Mabinogion and that Branwen and Rhiannon are there too, and that Rhiannon wasn’t a witch at all,” Nicks said during an interview with Mojo magazine in December 2013, according to Song Facts.
“She was a mythological queen,” the songwriter continued. “But my story was definitely written about a celestial being, I didn’t know who Rhiannon was, exactly, but I knew she was not of this world.”
Fleetwood Mac is known for songs like ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Dreams’
The rock band released hits like “Go Your Own Way”, “The Chain” and “Say You Love Me”. “Dreams” became one of Fleetwood Mac’s most popular songs and the only track to reach No. 1 in the United States.
Today, “Rhiannon” boasts over 275 million Spotify plays, making it one of Fleetwood Mac’s most popular songs. Other band originals are available on major music streaming platforms.
RELATED: Why Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham Certainly Thought Their Debut Album as a Duo Would Be a Hit (It Failed and Brought Them Down)